The fight for the Michelin Ginetta GT SuperCup crown is back on, thanks to an official’s pit lane mix-up at rainswept Knockhill on Sunday.
The seventh round of the 2012 Michelin Ginetta GT SuperCup season marked a challenging weekend for VCARS’ driver Tom Sharp. Race 18, 19 and 20 saw him recording finishes of seventh, fourth and fifth – that, however, tells only a small part of the weekend’s story.
Sharp’s problems began in Saturday’s pre-race qualifying. He commented:
“I made a big mistake on my first quick lap in qualifying by just taking too much of the curb and that left me in the gravel with no time set.”
Starting at the back of the grid for Race 18, Sharp tore through the field to record an ultimately respectable seventh.
He told vcars.co.uk:
“I could hardly see a thing, the rain was torrential and the circumstances really tough. Finishing seventh from the back of the grid is something I have to be positive about.”
In Race 19, in slightly drier conditions, Tom went from seventh to fourth but it was in Race 20 that the drama really unfolded.
Race 20 saw, due to the reverse grid process, Tom start on pole position. Driving more aggressively, Tom made an outstanding start while behind him third placed Tom Ingram stalled and was crashed into. It was a collision so serious a red flag was raised.
The Knowledge – The solid red flag is displayed when conditions are too dangerous to continue the session. Depending on the series, the cars are directed to proceed to pit road, or to stop at a specific spot. Also depending on the series, any repair work in the pits or garage area may not be done under red flag conditions.
Ingram needed medical attention which meant the third Ginetta race was postponed until after the final British Touring Car Championship. Just as the postponement was announced, Sharp was told by race officials that his rear brake lights were not working and had to be fixed in time for the restart (around 45 minutes later).
Tom takes up the story:
“I couldn’t believe my luck. I’d raced from the rear of the field over the course of the weekend to earn pole position only to see that red flag! Then being told by ToCA scrutinisers that it is against regulations to drive without working break lights. We had just 45 minutes to identify the problem and get the car back on the track. We originally thought it was just a plug but it was actually far more complicated than that. I won’t go into the details but to identify the problem and get the brake lights working (including bleeding the brake system) against the clock was a superhuman effort by my garage.
We missed the start of the race by two minutes which meant me coming out last again. With cold tyres, we managed to race to fifth and earn valuable points. However, I actually passed a car without brake lights which made me really quite angry. When I returned to the garage, I discovered the officials were mistaken – I didn’t need to have working rear brake lights to race! Talk about a frustrating weekend. In all honesty, we should have known the regulations more accurately but in the heat of the moment and racing against the clock to get the car back on the track, you don’t think objectively. That won’t happen again.”
The weekend saw second placed Carl Breeze close up on Tom at the top of the Ginetta GT Leaderboard. The gap between drivers is currently 53 points with three rounds of racing left – Rockingham, Silverstone and Brands Hatch. Rockingham circuit near Corby hosts Races 21, 22 and 23 on September 22nd & 23rd September.
The drama continues.