Bridgman wins Carrera Cup GB title at Brands Hatch
Tim Bridgman claimed the Porsche Carrera Cup GB Championship title in the final round of the season at Brands Hatch on Sunday (4 October 2009). With victory in the 20th race of the season, Bridgman won the title by just four points from James Sutton.
Glynn Geddie was victorious in Pro-Am1 in both races to take title at the end of a great season and with Glenn McMenamin already secure as Pro-Am2 Champion, Karl Leonard won Pro-Am2 in round 20 with a monster drive from a pit lane start.
At the head of the opening race of the weekend, Bridgman (Stansted) was peerless and converted pole position into an immediate lead. Twice the 911 Carrera 4S Safety Car was deployed while cars were retrieved from the gravel traps, but both times Bridgman was able to quickly re-assert his authority at the head of the race. He built his lead over James Sutton (Barnet) with some stunningly quick laps and took the championship lead by a single point heading for the final race.
“I’m very, very determined this weekend,” said Bridgman after this first win of the day. “We haven’t done the job yet, but I’m going out to win race two. The team has done a fantastic job and I get the best out of myself under pressure.” Sutton always ran second, but had to contend with a gearbox problem as well as a determined challenge from third placed Glynn Geddie (Aberdeen). “I could still get third gear but downshifting into it was difficult. I was also trying to short shift on the way up the ‘box,” said Sutton.
With a superb drive to hold third overall throughout, Geddie dominated Pro-Am1 and was even able to challenge Sutton after the second Safety Car period when Sutton’s gearbox problem meant he was slow into the re-start. “That was what we needed,” said Geddie. “The car was really good.”
Fourth, and making it three Team Parker Racing cars in the top four, was Tom Bradshaw (Blackburn) with one of his best drives of the season. He had to withstand constant pressure from Tim Harvey (Oxford), but the youngster drove a fine race to fend off the 2008 champion, who consequently went into the final race just behind Bridgman and Sutton on points. “That was mega,” said a delighted Bradshaw. “But I always had to be on my guard,” he added after race-long pressure from Harvey. Right behind Harvey, Michael Caine (Newmarket) completed the top six.
The fight for seventh overall and second in Pro-Am1 included up to five cars and delivered some great racing as Derek Pierce (West Kilbride) fended off his team-mate Robert Lawson (Richmond, North Yorkshire), Lewis Hopkins (Basingstoke), Ollie Jackson (Attleborough) and Michael Leonard (Ireland). That was how they finished as Pierce and Lawson completed the Po-Am1 podium. “That was fantastic,” said Pierce. “The best podium of the season!”
Karl Leonard (Ireland) set the Pro-Am2 pace and ran in the battle for seventh, before spinning into the gravel at Paddock Hill Bend. Instead, Paul Mace (London) moved ahead for an excellent Pro-Am2 win. “The first lap was pretty hectic and I was pleased to run with the Pro-Am1 cars,” said Mace. Paul Hogarth (Knutsford) ran a secure second, but third in Pro-Am2 was enough to secure the category title for Glenn McMenamin (Milton Keynes). “It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said McMenamin. “The race was perfect, and I knew I could run third and take the title.”
Bridgman went into the race knowing that he had to win to be certain of the title and he got the jump at the start to head the field into Paddock Hill Bend. Initially, Bridgman edged a few yards clear of Sutton as Harvey battled through to third. But it all nearly went wrong for Bridgman on lap six as he braked for Sheene Curve. “I hit the brakes as usual and it snatched the rears; there must have been something on the track,” said Bridgman. He ran wide onto the grass and had to defend hard into Stirlings to keep Sutton at bay.
After that moment, the top three cars ran in close formation all the way to an early finish when the cars of Pierce and Tony Gilham (Dartford) touched and spun off at Hawthorns, bringing out the red flag after 14 laps. The result gave Bridgman the title by four points from Sutton, with Harvey a further four points back in third.
“To win the championship with two wins today; it’s hard to describe. I’m ecstatic,” said Bridgman. “It was a tough target, but I really wanted to win this. It’s what you dream about.”
Behind Sutton and Harvey, Geddie once more drove a great race to take fourth overall, win Pro-Am1 in the race and clinch the Pro-Am1 championship title. “It’s been a really up and down season, but we got there,” said Geddie, who ended the season clear of Lawson in Pro-Am1.
Lawson finished seventh, behind Bradshaw as Bradshaw wrapped up an excellent weekend with sixth place. Bradshaw had run ahead of Geddie in the early laps, but ran wide at Sheene and lost the place. Jackson clinched the final podium place in Pro-Am1 to become the only driver to finish all 20 races this season.
Pro-am2 victory was just reward for a great drive from Karl Leonard after he started from the pit road with concerns about his gearbox. But all was well and he charged through to victory from Mace and McMenamin. “I just got as far up the field as I could,” said Leonard, after finishing tenth overall, right behind his brother Michael.
Three-time British Rally Champion, Mark Higgins, made his debut in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB with a pair of solid finishes on Sunday – an achievement made all the more remarkable considering he also won the Colin McRae Stages Rally in Scotland on Saturday!
The achievement by Tom Bradshaw in scoring his first podium at Brands Hatch demonstrates perfectly the success of the Porsche Carrera Cup Scholarship programme, which was rolled out for the first time in 2009. Bradshaw, and his fellow Scholar, Lewis Hopkins, each received a £50,000 bursary from Porsche Cars GB towards their year in Carrera Cup GB and both drivers have showed both speed and commitment in their debut season driving the 911 GT3 Cup race cars. News regarding the Porsche Carrera Cup Scholarship for 2010 will be announced soon.