Jamie Orton was once again on fine form in his HHC Motorsport run Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup at Donington Park this weekend, as a trio of podium results – including one overall win – saw him extend his championship lead over teammate Carl Breeze.
Brands Hatch double race winner Orton once again qualified on pole position for the weekend opener at, and following a lights to flag victory from the same position a fortnight ago, was hoping for more of the same.
A start line incident for White and Hale led to the deployment of the safety car on lap one, but not before Breeze and Oliphant jumped Orton to take first and second place respectively and Jackson climbed from tenth to sixth.
Racing recommenced on lap five, with the top four running nose to tail as Orton tried his upmost to find a route around Oliphant in second, whilst still defending from Burns behind. Orton found his moment on lap 12, as Oliphant made a move on Breeze to take the race lead, with the #71 car following him through, thus demoting the 2012 champion to third place, with the order remaining the same to the flag.
Following race one, winner Oliphant said;“Donington is a really good track for me, I won both times here last year and I really like the track. That said, it was a difficult race, Jamie [Orton] and Carl [Breeze] drove really well, but I held out for an opportunity and once I got the lead, I could just focus on defending for the remaining three laps. With the grid based on the result of this race, it’s a great position to be in for the start of race two.”
Despite his best intentions for race two, Oliphant found himself in a Orton / Breeze sandwich as the cars headed into Redgate for the first time on Sunday, and it was the #3 car who emerged in the lead with Oliphant behind – albeit for a short time, as Orton made a move with Burns in his wake, shuffling Oliphant down into fourth.
A great battle between the three HHC Motorsport cars and Century’s Oliphant left the fans around the circuits on tenterhooks as the foursome traded paintwork, thus allowing Caine to catch the pack in his Amigos Tequila Flavoured Beer livered Ginetta G55, who swiftly capitalised on a mistake by Oliphant when he left the door open for fourth.
After a few nudges between Orton and Burns, the latter ran wide at the Old Hairpin, dropping him to fifth, and in the ensuing shuffle allowed Breeze to pull away out front, although Orton was keen to challenge for the win, and reeled in his teammate with the fastest lap of the race. Elsewhere, Smith, Boston and White enjoyed a fantastic fight over eighth place, with White the eventual victor from Boston after Smith retired with a few laps to go.
After 16 high intensity laps of the Donington Park circuit, Breeze managed to hold onto the lead to claim the race win, crossing the line half a second ahead of Orton, with Oliphant following them in third. White’s strong drive afforded him the AM class win from Kawashima and Ingram.
Following race two, Breeze said;“It’s fair to say I am really pleased with the win, the race was all about using my race craft to maximise my position on the circuit. The points keeps things interesting for the championship top three and it’s a fantastic result for the team to take a 1-2 finish. The last race is always a lottery and we need to try and take home as many points as we can.”
Orton – who was tied on points with Breeze following the second race -added; “Great result again. Carl really is the benchmark, if you beat him, you know you’ve done a good job, and I do have the stronger pace this weekend, so I am looking forward to the next race and hoping for a good result in race three!”
Orton’s hopes were rewarded as the reverse grid draw saw Caine pulled for the pole position slot, but as the lights went out, a lightening start for Orton from third saw him take the lead into the first corner, whilst teammate Burns leapfrogged from fifth to third.
The race soon settled into a pair of fierce battles as Caine, Breeze and Oliphant fought over third place, whilst Jackson, Somerfield, Wrigley and White fought over sixth a little further down the road.
In the first of the squabbles, a great move by Oliphant to pass Breeze at the halfway point saw him move up to fourth – just behind Caine – but try as he might to unsettle the former British GT ace, pole-sitter Caine held firm and retained third place at the flag.
Following the quintet over the line, Somerfield managed to climb to a comfortable sixth, leaving Wrigley, White, Smith, Jackson and Rob Boston to race for seventh. Smith got the job done on lap 13, passing White and taking Boston and Jackson through with him. In the AM class, an opening lap incident for Ingram and Kawashima saw both cars retired in the gravel track, leaving White to run an almost unchallenged class race with Fraser Robertson.
At the end of a trio of exciting races, Orton leads the championship as the focus moves to Thruxton Circuit in Hampshire in a few weeks’ time. Speaking after the race he said;“What an incredible race – and indeed weekend! It’s been a great start to the year for me, considering I’ve probably only had seven podiums in the past three years of racing, this is a very different year for me! I am finally able to learn and relax, and the team –HHC Motorsport – have brought me on masses, and now I can just get better (I hope)!”
The Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup returns to the track on May 9/10 at Thruxton.