MONDAY 25 APRIL 2011
BUSY INTERNATIONAL WEEKEND NETS STRONG BGT RESULT
This was one weekend to rack up frequent flyer miles and one that Allan Simonsen could not afford one tiny transportation hickup. Monte Carlo to London. Drive to Oulton Park. Race a Ferrari 430. Get back to the airport and fly to Paris, France. Drive 8 hours in a Ferrai 458 GTE. Back to Oulton Park for another race.

Had enough yet? That's Allan's weekend. Of course there's the Nordschcliffe next weekend too!

With so many new teams and a much wider variety of cars for 2011, British GT is set to be a stellar year.

Twenty six cars would line up at the opener and up to 35 could be expected mid year, thanks to the SRO and brand new variants arriving, like the Ferrari 458.

Finally the Championship appears to be shedding its 'Pro-Am' status – Allan knew he'd have to work hard for a podium this year and for the coveted 'Autosport Driver of the Year' – an accolade he has won five years in a row (see media section).

Yet despite the hard work Stephane Ratel's organisation has been doing, there are still weird parity descions being made, ones that would effect Allan and Hector.


Despite the Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3 now having been superceded by the 458 Italia, the powers-to-be deemed that 25kg ballast be added along with an increase in ride height of 10mm. No car likes that type of baggage and it is rather strange that at both the start of a season and a car that has never yet won the championship!


Saturday practice went well using the time to get a great qualifying setup – P1 in P1 and P5 in P2, effectively the Q setup.

Allan put everything into qualifying, but that was still 0.6 seconds off pole, from Richard Westbrook in his 'factory' Porsche 997 GT3 - that is a clear message to the SRO that parity needs tuning and quickly.

With Q done, it was time to jump in the 'renta' and head to Manchester airport for a flight to Paris for the LM24 Test Day. Arriving at 10pm, it was almost 1am before Allan's head hit the pillow for what would be a stellar day (see other story).

After the test, Allan was lucky enough to hitch a private flight back with Paul Daniels, Hollywood style. A well earnt ride!

Hector started race one and did a solid job, returning the now aging Ferrari, at the 23 minute mark, in 7th place.

It was an uphill battle for Allan, as he attacked the deficit – the ballast/ride height rubbish rearing itself.

Ahead, in 3rd place was his only blockage to the podium, an Aston Martin. But wait, its slowing. Yes! It's blown up – David Richards pride and joy rolled to a stop...10 metres past the line. Damn, that was close, but deep down Allan knew that there was a lot of foxing going on. These new spc racecars were nowhere near their potential and it was only the first race.

For those true racers reading, you'll know that its actually easier to drive closer to the limit or bth skill and adhesion. Doing so ensures the mind is sharp and focussed, rather than slightly off the boil. Sure, the new cars are fast, but we'll have to see whether the new pilots have the skill to drive them at the pointy end, as Allan does at every opportunity. That's not to say he can't drive at eight tenths – a true professional can modulate the requirement for feedback as the situation dictates.

The second race would enjoy a front row start. Allan pushed Westbrook's almost GT2-like GT3 to the limit, yet the Germanic rear-engined car happily romped away.

Behind, pressure was mounting from a 458 GT3. Alan held his second place position until the pitstop and Hector took his turn. It was a timely stop, the rest of the field pitting. Thanks to the efficient nature of the Rosso Verde/UBC/Santander Team, the Irishman grabbed the race lead.

Being a pro-am event, Westbrook had swapped out for Ashburn, who took off after Hector.

At the last corner, Hector revised his Christmas card list – Ashburn uncerimoniously punting him off and into a wild spin. It was 12th before he could rejoin the track, moving up to 8th for the flag, gaining some valuable points in the championship.

For those who punt, you'll find dear reader, a driver has a very long memory...