Ginetta cars customer team Simpson Motorsport completed an incredible comeback drive against all odds to win the opening round of the 2017 VdeV Championship with its #52 Ginetta G57-P2 at Circuit de Catalunya.
British drivers Sennan Fielding, Charlie Robertson and Colin White steered the team’s #52 G57-P2 from 20th place and multiple laps down to the lead in the final hour, after an early off into the gravel forced the team to adopt a new strategy mid-race. The result capped off a successful weekend for the 2016 PFV class champion, in which it qualified on pole position, scored the fastest lap and won the race.
French outfit Pegasus Racing also had a reliable run to the finish in its first ever race with Ginetta in prototype racing. Its #29 G57-P2 of Julien Schell and Stephane Raffin came home third in the PFV class after a steady run to the finish with no issues.
“It was a real rollercoaster,” said Robertson after taking the win. “The team worked so hard all weekend and we had the speed to win, but we had to really push to get back into it. Luckily when the car went off the Safety Car came out so we only lost a few laps.
“But it was still an almost impossible task. After Colin (White) climbed out of the car and handed it over to Sennan (Fielding) it was game on. He did an incredible job with his double stint in the middle of the race, taking the car from P20 to P3.
“From there it was all down to me, I had to conserve fuel but also battle to take the lead. I knew I had to make the move at the end, and thankfully I made it stick and made it home with only a few drops left in the tank. It’s a great win for the team, and one of the strangest races I’ve ever been a part of.”
Early in the race it was a Ginetta 1-2-3, with Pegasus Racing leading the way, but the mandatory drive-through penalties for the teams resulted in the running order changing lap after lap for much of the middle stint.
With an hour to go though, Pegasus Racing’s #57 G57-P2 of Mike Simpson, Neale Muston and Jordan Sanders looked to set for the win, leading by two laps as Muston handed over to Simpson following an ironman-like stint. But a mechanical issue forced the team to retire the car shortly after it left the pit lane.
This left the window open for the hard-charging Simpson G57-P2 to take the lead following an impressive debut stint by 21-year-old Fielding which saw him slalom through the pack ahead.
“It was crazy really,” Fielding commented. “It was hard to remain calm and over drive, I knew that everyone I came up behind, I had to get past to climb the order, so I just went from it.
“The car felt great though, and had no issues all race long. I had to manage the tyre, but I really felt I could push hard. It was a really memorable drive and an incredible race. I felt like it had a season’s-worth of drama in just four hours. That’s what endurance racing is all about!”
In the final hour, Robertson took the wheel and climbed the podium-paying spots, taking the lead with less than 20 minutes to go while trying to save fuel. He crossed the line just 3.1 seconds ahead of the second-place runner to score his maiden overall VdeV victory.
“It was a real team effort,” said White. “Charlie and Sennan did a great job, which made the team rally and ensure we had a good enough strategy to take the win at the end. A very impressive performance all round.”
The second round of the 2017 VdeV Series season is set to take place at the Algarve International Circuit in Portugal on the 28-30 April.