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10-06-2008

Another Victory for Team Trimite: Snetterton Race Rounds 7 & 8

Friday Testing:
On Friday morning, Team Trimite fired up the re-built Dodge Viper to defend their lead of the championship. Now accustomed to the torrential summer weather, James took the wheel on a set of Avon wets for the first hour long session. With a very good wet set-up still on the car from Rockingham there was very little fine tuning to do and the session was spent letting Jon & James get accustomed to the fast Norfolk circuit. A time of 1:19.44 put the Viper 2nd overall.

In the second session the car was running well despite the relentless rain, until Jon radioed in, reporting a puncture following a collision with a GT4 Ginetta. Jon limped the car up the pit lane with a buckled off-side rear wheel. The remainder of the afternoon was spent checking the rear quarter for signs of damage and straightening out alignment issues.

Saturday Morning Free Practice:
Saturday was the first opportunity to check the car on track after Friday's incident, as expected the car ran straight and true. A time of 1:22.90 put the team in 9th place with the car struggling on a fresh set on wet tyres.


Qualifying One:
James took to the track for the "B" driver session in severe weather conditions. Despite a fresh set of wet tyres, James was desperately struggling for grip but managed to put the car 9th with a 1:21.27. Frustrated with his performance, James handed the car over to Jon for session two.

Qualifying Two:
Conditions continued to deteriorate to the extent that the team couldn't see the car from the pit wall for spray. The standing water was making it difficult for Jon to get temperature in the tyres. As Jon exited Coram, approaching Russell's the mighty Viper snapped sideways. In full view of the team on the pit wall Jon fought the momentum of the car as it weaved left to right. With one wheel on the sodden grass the car spun, pitching Jon toward the beckoning barrier. Jon collected the spin and returned the car to the tarmac without any damage and went on to set a 1:20.44 to put the Team Trimite car 14th.

Race One:
From 9th place on a wet grid, the team knew this race would be a hard fight to score some points and keep the championship fight alive. Hopes were for a 6th place or higher to keep the points tally up. Due to the adverse conditions, two Aston Martins withdrew from the grid due to a lack of confidence in the integrity of their tyres. James and Jon had experienced the same problems, but with the championship at stake, there was no choice other than to race.

A further complication to proceedings was the presence of the Matech Ford GT, making a one-off appearance to the series with 2007 champions Alex Mortimer and Bradley Ellis at the wheel. The Ford had been blisteringly quick throughout warm-up and qualifying and was eligible to score championship points.

On the first lap James moved from 9th to 6th and set about reeling in the leading pack. By lap 10 the Trimite car was running 4th and chasing the lead three cars when the safety car was deployed for an accident in the GT4 field. With the pit window opened after two laps behind the safety car, the majority of the field filed into the pit lane, James included. An impeccable pit stop saw Jon emerge as the 4th car out of the pits.

Once the safety car was in and the pit stops had been made the order settled down and Jon was running 4th with two Ferraris and a Viper ahead. The charging Ford GT which had been leading dropped to 14th due to their 30 second pit stop penalty for running two "A" drivers. With the Viper of Bryant and Ferrari of Cullen quickly dispatched, Jon set about catching Hines in the lead car with a 9 second lead to overcome.

A succession of blistering laps from Jon brought him up to the tail of Hines' car, and with GT4 traffic ahead Jon seized the opportunity to take the lead of the race. With only minutes left of the race, Jon built up a considerable lead over the Ferrari, but from the pit wall it was clear the Ford GT was soon going to be causing a problem. Having caught and passed Hines for 2nd, Ellis in the Ford was chasing Jon hard for the lead. As the pair approached the last corner, Ellis braked late and lunged down the inside, however with a neater line, Jon exited the corner still in the lead and held off Ellis to take an emphatic win by just 0.6 seconds.


Sunday Warm-up:
When the garage shutters were rolled up on Sunday morning, the team were greeted with the unexpected sight of a warm, dry track! A quick change to slick tyres and Jon took the ten minute session to bed in new rubber and brake pads. A 1:10.24 put the car 8th fastest with more pace to come.


Race Two:
A dry track and 14th place on the grid would make race two a very hard fight, buoyed by Saturday's victory however, nothing was impossible. On the opening lap, Jon dragged the Trimite Viper from 14th to 9th, on to the tail of a train of cars led by Adam Wilcox in 5th whilst Bradley Ellis in the Ford GT led the race with a further two Ferraris and a Lamborghini behind him.

Battling with Jonny Cocker in the #9 Lamborghini Jon moved up to 8th still nose to tail with four cars when the safety car was deployed while some debris was cleared from the circuit. With the pit window not yet open Jon had to sit in the traffic, however the safety car did negate the lead of Ellis in the Ford.

Once racing was underway again, Wilcox in the #12 Ferrari at the front of the train of cars ran wide at Sears and was collected by Hines in the #16 CRS car. Jon picked off the casualties to move up to 5th. With the pit window open, the team called Jon in to get him out of the heavy traffic ahead that was impeding him. James took the wheel in a typically faultless stop and returned to the track. Whilst the team waited for the order to clear up after the pit stops, James set a blistering pace and emerged running 3rd with Alex Mortimer in the Ford GT and Hector Lestor in a Ferrari ahead.

As Lestor's pace dropped off James made the move for 2nd place and was catching Mortimer at 0.5 seconds a lap. James depleted the Ford's lead to just two seconds, and with nine laps remaining the two cars were catching traffic. James was held up behind a Ginetta and Mortimer stretched the gap to 4.1 seconds. With only three laps remaining and marginal fuel levels due to running the mighty 8.3 litre V10 unrestricted, James backed off to consolidate his 2nd place.

With massive haul of 18 points, James and Jon now hold a commanding lead of the British GT Championship with 47 points and a 16 point gap to second place. The team now eagerly look forward to our first "home" race of the year, Thruxton on the 28th & 29th June