Mike Simpson and Steve Tandy kicked off Team LNT’s British GT season in style at Oulton Park today (April 6) after finishing second overall in the second of the Bank Holiday Easter encounters.
After the opening race saw both cars enjoy top 10 results with Simpson crossing the line in P7 and Oliphant in P9 in spite of a drive through penalty, the hopes were high for top five results in race two.
With the pro drivers starting the second encounter, Simpson lined the #32 car up on fifth place, before he utilised his wealth of experience behind the wheel of the Ginetta G55 GT3 to power through the field over the opening laps, finding himself in third place by lap 15 and the mandatory pit stop.
A slick stop by the Team LNT mechanics saw Tandy rejoin the race in second, and although two places slipped away over the ensuing laps, drive through penalties for the cars ahead saw him promoted into second position.
With just under 10 minutes left to run, Tandy held his own - despite multiple challenges from the recovering cars behind him - to deliver the first British GT podium result for the Ginetta G55 GT3 car.
Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson said; “Absolutely fantastic result for Team LNT, it’s certainly been a long time coming, but we knew the car was strong and it’s great to finally be able to show what it can do. Mike, Steve and the Ginetta team did a fantastic job, and it’s great to be taking some Silverware back to Leeds.”
Mike Simpson commented; “It’s very emotional to me after three years of development with the Ginetta G55 GT3 to enjoy a podium finish. Coming here with the factory Team LNT and proving to everyone that we manufacture world class cars is fantastic. Personal thanks to Steve Tandy and Lawrence Tomlinson for giving me the opportunity to show what I can do behind the wheel.”
Steve Tandy added; “I am extremely pleased with the weekend after a difficult start to the GT programme. I am very pleased with Lawrence and the whole Ginetta team – we have now proven that the Ginetta is a great, strong car, now that it is run by a proper factory team, and we hope this result is the foundation to build upon for a very strong year.”
In race one, the team qualified eighth and fourteenth with AM drivers Parfitt and Tandy taking the start in their respective cars, with Parfitt picking up a position on the opening lap before a short safety car period to recover a few stricken cars from the gravel.
As the race unfolded, Parfitt climbed to sixth position over the opening five laps which saw him challenge the #27 car for a handful of laps, before he made a move stick to take the place on lap 12, the momentum was good and he had picked off another position by lap 13 to take him into third, before ultimately handing over the car to Oliphant from the race lead.
In the #32 car, an opening lap spin for Tandy left him with work to do as he dropped to P20. He charge onwards and recovered to his starting position of fourteenth by lap 12. Picking up one more place before he handed over to Simpson, the team were looking strong for a top 10 finish.
The pit lane window opened in sync with the second safety car period of the 60 minute race, and as a result much of the pack headed for their mandatory driver change, resulting in a heavily congested pit lane.
Rejoining under safety car, Simpson emerged in P6 and Oliphant in P9 and after five laps were released to go racing again with 16 minutes left on the clock. A small error on the restart for both cars however, saw each driver handed a drive through penalty with a few minutes of the race remaining.
Setting the fastest lap of the race from fifth place on lap 23, Simpson began to reel in fourth place whilst Oliphant held firm in ninth, although the implementation of the drive through penalty on the penultimate lap saw Simpson drop to seventh as the flag fell, whilst Oliphant secured ninth.
The focus now turns to round two at Rockingham Motor Speedway next month, but before then, Team LNT will be out in force at Silverstone next weekend (10-12 March) with their pair of LMP3 cars, which will make their debut in the European Le Mans Series.