Mark Davies produced his most consistently competitive showing of the 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup season at Oulton Park Island Circuit over the weekend, 8th/9th June, with a pair of fantastic podium finishes for Total Control Racing.
Leading the Wednesbury team’s charge in each of the event’s encounters, rounds 10 and 11, Davies moved up into the championship top five thanks to his second and third podiums of the year while TCR team-mate Carl Breeze consolidated second in the standings with a brace of fourth places.
Jamie Orton, who was fifth in the championship prior to the weekend, slipped to sixth behind Davies after finishing fifth in each of the races while championship newcomer David Dickenson, getting his first experience of a rear-wheel drive Ginetta G55, impressed with a best result of 11th place.
“It’s been a good weekend for Mark, two podiums is fantastic and especially as the competition was so hard this weekend”, said TCR team principal Lee Brookes, “It’s nice to see Mark back where we know he should be. David has been impressive on his first weekend, he’s gone quicker and quicker and although this is a one-off for him hopefully he’ll be back out with us at some time in the future.”
“We’re not sure yet why Carl seemed to struggle a bit, two fourths is good for the championship though, and Jamie had a strong weekend as well. They’re all so closely matched and the competition is fierce. It’s not been as good as we wanted but still a strong weekend.”
Expanding to a four-car entry in the Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup for the first time in the team’s history, with the addition of Eurocup Clio series regular Dickenson to the squad, TCR started the Oulton Park weekend very competitively with Orton setting the pace in the opening practice session and Davies doing the same in the second outing.
In qualifying though, Breeze was the best of the TCR drivers with the third fastest time, just 0.067 seconds faster than Davies, with Orton a close fifth and Dickenson 12th quickest on his debut in a Ginetta G55.
At the beginning of round 10 on Saturday afternoon, Davies made a better launch away from the line than Breeze to take third and he latched onto the tail of Tom Ingram. Swarming all over the back of the second placed car, Davies tried absolutely everything in the book to find a way past but Ingram held firm and so the TCR racer ended the outing in third but just 0.1 seconds shy.
Breeze held fourth throughout but during the closing stages he came under mounting pressure from Orton, who had slipped to seventh at mid-distance, although the reigning champion held firm to the flag. Dickenson slipped to 15th from his starting slot of 12th place and despite an unfortunate moment on lap three, dropping him to 16th position, he battled back into the top 12.
In Sunday’s 11th round, Davies ran in third throughout and really started to challenge the two leaders into the final third of the race. With overtaking at a premium though, he had to settle for his second top three of the weekend. Breeze and Orton each held their grid slots of fourth and fifth to the finish with the latter just 0.4 seconds adrift of his team-mate at the chequered flag.
Dickenson, meanwhile, made good progress through the order and lapped 0.7 seconds faster than he managed in the first race as he gained experience and confidence. The Irishman eventually finished in 11th place to cap a strong debut.
Smith sees off Clio title challenger with superb Oulton performance
In the two Renault UK Clio Cup races at Oulton Park, TCR’s Rob Smith starred with a pair of highly notable performances and the second year racer ended the weekend with a best finish of ninth place, fifth in the Graduate Cup class, during round eight.
Rapid from the start of the event, Smith qualified within just 0.2 seconds of pole position but such was the incredible competitiveness during the session he had to be satisfied with ninth position overall on the grid for round seven.
Although bumped back to 10th place, the Telford driver reclaimed ninth on lap two when rival Ant Whorton-Eales clipped the tyre stack at Knickerbrook Chicane. Unfortunately though, Smith ran over the resulting debris and this eventually led to a right-front puncture which cost him a certain top 10.
Initially keeping the chasing pack behind very impressively, Smith had no option but to succumb as the damaged tyre worsened and he took the chequered flag on lap 15 ninth in the Graduate Cup class and 15th position overall.
During Sunday’s race, screened live on ITV4, he delivered a tremendous performance to fend off the dogged challenge of multiple Renault UK Clio Cup podium finisher, and Eurocup Clio race winner, Josh Files.
Starting in ninth place, Smith pressured Whorton-Eales for eighth during the opening laps but after a mid-race Safety Car period the TCR man had to concentrate more on the threat from Files. His rival almost managed to get alongside at the Island Hairpin on lap 11 but Smith had better drive out of the turn and held onto ninth over Hill Top and down to the chicane.
Fending off Files all the way to the finish, Smith secured his fourth overall top 10 result of the season and his second highest Graduate Cup result of the year with fifth place. Notably, his fastest lap of the race was a mere 0.2 seconds shy of race winner Stefan Hodgetts’ best.
“Ninth might not look a brilliant result but when you look at the competition around Rob, a driver like Josh Files who has won Eurocup and then you beat him, the result is like a win really”, said Brookes, “The first race was disappointing with the puncture but race two was great and to turn it around after Thruxton is good for Rob. We should be even stronger at Croft.”
Total Control Racing’s Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Renault UK Clio Cup teams will be back in action two weeks from now at Croft in North Yorkshire on 22nd/23rd June. Before then, TCR will visit Snetterton in Norfolk for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge next weekend, 15th/16th June.
Provisional 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Driver Standings (after Rd11):
2nd Carl Breeze, 270pts; 5th Mark Davies, 204pts; 6th Jamie Orton, 196pts; 18th David Dickenson, 19pts
Provisional 2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Team Standings (after Rd11):
2nd Total Control Racing, 521pts
Provisional 2013 Renault UK Clio Cup Driver Standings (after Rd8):
13th Rob Smith, 72pts