Tom Oliphant roared into the lead of the Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup with a double win at Snetterton this weekend (08/09 August), whilst there was an emotional maiden victory for Tom Wrigley to cap a difficult week leading up to the Norfolk meeting.
Oliphant’s move to the head of the standings came after the Century Motorsport driver took full advantage of a troublesome weekend former leader Carl Breeze, who slipped to third in the standings after taking a sole podium finish at his home event.
Wrigley’s maiden win was made even more poignant after a fire at his family business left him without a race car just days before the track action began. Helped onto the grid by Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson and Rob Boston Racing, he rewarded their efforts with a lights-to-flag victory.
Oliphant’s blistering pace throughout testing and qualifying afforded him pole position for the opening race, and a lightening start saw him enjoy an untroubled victory, setting a new lap record along the way.
Behind was a very different story. Breeze got the jump on teammate Will Burns off the line, pushing his nose out into Richies for the first time and snatching second place from the front row starter. The battle between the pair raged throughout the opening laps, whilst Jamie Orton sat pretty behind, waiting for either to make a mistake.
That they did, a problem for Breeze running out of Agostini saw the pair make contact, with both cars forced to retire. This handed Orton second position, and ultimately, the interim championship lead.
In the AM class, there was a similar lights-to-flag victory for series newcomer Will Moore. He managed to fend off Flick Haigh and Colin White to claim the opening win of the weekend, and was joined by Ade Barwick on the podium.
In race two, another textbook start for Oliphant saw him secure a second untroubled race victory, whilst Orton sailed home in second, despite struggling with his tyres. Smith held third for much of the race - and momentarily took second Oggies - but went into Brundle too hot, ran wide and dropped to fourth, the action promoting Caine into third.
Starting from the back of the grid and with a championship title to battle for, Breeze powered up to eighth over the opening lap. With Jackson up ahead, the former championship leader tried his upmost to get around the Century Motorsport car, but failed to make a move stick.
With Burns hot on his heels – setting a new lap record along the way - Breeze was forced to defend, allowing Jackson to pull away and challenge Wrigley for fifth. Whilst a move wasn’t made, the pair took the flag just one second apart, with Wrigley claiming pole position in the reverse grid draw.
In the AM class, Moore was once again on top form, enjoying a lights-to-flag victory which saw him beat championship leader Colin White to the top step. Ade Barwick completed the podium despite an opening lap spin following a tangle with Somerfield. The latter was penalised by the stewards and given a grid penalty for the final race.
Making the most of his promotion up the grid, Wrigley was determined to bring his loaned Ginetta G55 GT4 car across the line in a podium position, and he did so in fine style. Ticking the boxes on the start, he streamed into Richies for the first time in the lead.
Caine got the jump on Smith to take second after the latter went backwards. Burns and Breeze swept into third and fourth respectively, with Burns immediately hassling Caine for second. The trio’s battle allowed Wrigley to pull a 2.1s gap after two laps.
Oliphant was soon into fifth, with Jackson, Smith and Orton filling his mirrors as the foursome latched onto the back of Breeze. After running door handle to door handle for much of the lap, Jackson and Smith’s fight ended in contact and a damaged wheel for Jackson, forcing him into retirement.
Breeze succumbed to Oliphant’s advances as the race entered its final stages, and the latter was soon onto the tail of the Caine/Burns skirmish. Running side-by-side with Burns through Bombhole, Oliphant moved into third on lap seven before reeling in Caine.
On the final lap, Oliphant, Caine and Burns were reminded that ‘three into one don’t go’ as they made contact at Montreal. Caine lost out, dropping to 11th, whilst Oliphant escaped marginally unscathed and held onto second with Burns finishing third.
After the race, Burns was penalised and put behind Caine in the results, putting them 11thand 10threspectively. This promoted Breeze into a podium position, his first of the weekend. Further enquiries excluded Smith and Jackson for their wheel-to-wheel contact, which Moore was put behind White for their coming together.
In the AM class, Barwick took his first victory of the weekend, adding to the same result at Oulton Park in June. Will Moore managed to recover to second after an opening lap excursion whilst Osamu Kawashima completed the podium.
The result was enough to hand Oliphant the championship lead, whilst a strong weekend for Orton promoted him to second overall with Breeze in third. As the championship heads North to Knockhill in a fortnight’s time, it’s going to be an unmissable fight when the drivers meet again.
Provisional Michelin Ginetta GT4 SuperCup Top 10 after Round 17
GT4 SUPERCUP PRO CLASS TABLE
OLIPHANT, Tom 457
ORTON, Jamie 448
BREEZE, Carl 432
CAINE, Michael 363
SOMERFIELD, Reece 298
BURNS, Will 294
WRIGLEY, Tom 274
JACKSON, Ollie 254
SMITH, Bradley 236
HALE, Mitchell 124
GT4 SUPERCUP AM CLASS TABLE
WHITE, Colin 436
KAWASHIMA, Osamu 426
ROBERTSON, Fraser 329
INGRAM, Chris 230
BARWICK, Ade 154
MOORE, Will 95
WHITE, Keith 70
ROBERTS, Richard 68
FINN, Connaire 53
MONAHON, Paul 0