RACE 11 : 9 October 2010
report by Nicky Paul-Barron
An excellent entry of twenty Ferraris for the last Open race of the year was most encouraging. The seven 355s were joined by six 430s, five 360s, a 550 and a 456. Since opening up the field to include ‘modern’ Ferraris such as 360s and 430s, rather than limiting it to 355s, the potential has increased enormously. Next season there should be a multitude of 430 GT3 cars becoming available from national racing when the 458 GT3 hits the tracks, and our Open series will provide an excellent home for all these cars.
Best qualifiers in each class were Derek Johnson (pole position in his 430/Ch), Mick Dwane (360 GT2), Craig Milner (355/Ch) with Paul Brooks (456) getting the better of Paul Unsworth’s 550 amongst the V12s.
The formation lap leading to the rolling start was lead by a circuit car but the pace was far too slow, and given just one lap all cars started the race with cold tyres. Pole sitter Johnston had already spun on the pace lap. There was a further spin at Redgate on lap 1 when Gary Eastwood, in second at the time, dropped his 430/Ch in front of all the others. There were massive avoidances, none seemed to touch, but it dropped him and Ian Hartley (430/Ch) and Mick Dwane down the field and seriously shuffled the pack. Eastwood dropped to second from last and had a tough time ahead of him to catch up.
At the end of the first lap Johnston was way out in the lead, having been ahead of the first lap kerfuffle, but in second was Dave Tomlin in his newly acquired 430/Ch which had only recently arrived from Holland. Robert Macfarlane (360/Ch), having qualified 7th, was up to third ahead of the 355/Ch of Milner who had benefited hugely from the first lap spin and was up to fourth!
But then the 355s of Jim Cartwright and Mike Reeder got together at the chicane and the Safety Car came out whilst the stranded 355 of Jim was retrieved. Reeder was able to continue but it was not until lap 7 that the SC pulled in and racing continued, with just 9½ mins of the 20 minute race remaining.
Thereafter our leader Johnson got down into the 1.12s and was never challenged. Dave Tomlin had an excellent day, keeping out of trouble and coming home 2nd in the 430. With more experience in the car next year he will be challenging for wins. Arwyn Williams (430 GT3)held third throughout but was losing some 2 seconds per lap on Tomlin, and he was equally clear of Macfarlane in the quickest of the 360/Chs. Dave Hathaway (360/Ch) pressed him hard, finishing just over a second behind in a tight bunch that also included Paul Bailey (430/Ch) and Sean Winder (360/Ch).
After his first lap mishap Gary Eastwood gave game chase but, with so many laps under the Safety Car, was limited in the amount of time he had to catch up, and he only managed to get up to 8th by the finish. Nevertheless he set the fastest time, a 1:12.0 which compares with the winner’s 1:12.6.
Amongst the 355s Wayne Marrs was the quickest ahead of Mark I’Anson, and these two, along with the 355s of Vance Kearney and Craig Milner, all set excellent lap times in the 1:18s. Marrs finished ninth overall in this ultra-competitive field.
The Open grid is a great sight. There will always be a large spread of performance, as the various cars are so diverse. This first year has been tentative, but there are some good signs of what may lay ahead. A few tweaks here and there, a good set of dates and venues, and who knows 2011 could be a year to really celebrate a successful series.