It’s fair to say that the races are coming thick and fast for the drivers competing in the Simsport Racing GT4 Season 3 Championship. It’s hard to believe, but we are now four races into the season, where this week the field will tackle the high-octane home of British motorsport – the mighty Silverstone.
So far, the opening three races have shown the depth and talent within the field having yielded three different winners – with Stephen Haley, Karol Sipavicius and Jannik Moller all taking the honours at Monza, Suzuka and the Nurburgring respectively. In terms of the Championship battle, there is still all to play for with Stephen Haley’s title defence going to plan so far and continuing to lead the standings, but the reigning champion will certainly be looking over his shoulder with Aiden Browe and Sipavicius not too far behind and posing a threat. Further down, the likes of Moller, Reegan Mitchell, Charlie Crossland and Aaron Walker will be looking for a good race and a good haul of points to challenge the top three as the season begins to head towards it’s conclusion, with just three races remaining.
As ever, the grid for this Championship is once again formed using the top 15 from the previous race reversed. In Pole position was Tim Fullbrook in the Porsche with Richard Emery’s BMW joining him on the front row. Aaron Walker would have certainly had one eye on challenging for the win starting the race from fifth, whilst the likes of Sipavicius, Haley, Crossland and Browe were well aware that they would have to be at their best to despatch of the stubborn and wily Stijn Paspont, Oli Jeal and Gerard de Baar if they were to get anywhere near the front and take the ever-important race win.
As the cars completed their formation laps and the lights went green, it was GO GO GO. Pole sitter Fullbrook got the jump on his rivals and pulled away as Emery and Angus Martin battled it out for second throughout the opening corners of the famous Northamptonshire circuit. This battle would be shortlived for Emery however, as by the time the cars streamed down the Hanger Straight, his BMW was swamped by Hedges and had to do his best to hold the advancing Aaron Walker at bay.
The first lap action did not stop there as Angus Martin reigned in the fast starting Fullbrook and took the lead of the race with a well executed dive down the inside of his rival as they turned into Abbey. While Hedges moved into the podium positions in third place, Walker made his way past Emery to take fourth and was soon hot on the heels of Hedge’s Maserati as the cars crossed the line to complete lap one.
The first-ten minutes were certainly action-packed with cars throughout the field battling it out as the faster cars tried to manoeuvre their way through the pack with others squabbling for position towards the back with a few unfortunate casualties. Emery’s woes continued, with the BMW driver slipping all the way back down to 28th, whilst the Championship protagonists were beginning to work their way through the field with Haley in eighth and holding off his main rival Aiden Browe, while Karol Sipavicius’ Porsche had a bit to do running in 16th place.
At the front, Angus Martin seemed to be settling in well at the front, only to lose out to the recovering Tim Fullbrook who inherited the lead as the dual made its way through Copse. Just behind, Dave Hedges had Aaron Walker for close company as the KTM looked to find a way through, although the time spent battling meant Gerard de Baar was able to get on the back of them to become another contender for a podium position, eventually making his way past the KTM with an excellent move as the cars exited Woodcote.
By the half-way stage, all was certainly still to play for – particularly in the battle for the title. There was intense drama as Championship leader Stephen Haley was tagged by Moller and found himself in the gravel, which put him right back down to 17th place, giving the championship advantage to Aiden Browe, who was sitting in seventh position and on the back of Dave Hedges who was starting to fall back down the order. In the same sequence of events, Moller and Walker also made contact, with both drivers also falling further down the field and in Walker’s case, eventually out of the race. In a very worthwhile mention, Kieran Vidago was running in fifth following a stunning race so far having started way back in 33rd.
And as the race entered it’s closing stages, it got even better for the the undoubted driver of the day Vidago, as he made his way past Reegan Mitchell’s Maserati into third position – something which even he would have doubted was possible at the start of the race.
Once again, the lead changed hands with Angus Martin again getting past Tim Fullbrook and extending his lead to one second. Vidago was holding onto third place, while Charlie Crossland had gone somewhat unnoticed and found his way to fourth. Aiden Browe was certainly not settling on his laurels and was involved in a fantastic battle for sixth with de Baar as they diced it out through Maggots and Becketts in a show of brilliant, clean driving from the pair. It was ultimately Browe who came out on top to take the position, whilst Haley was still running in 17th and struggling to make his way back into some kind of contention. The tide was certainly turning in Browe’s favour.
With just five minutes left on the clock, things were developing at the front once again, with Vidago and Crossland both moving in on the leading pair of Martin and Fullbrook, promising another blockbuster ending to the race. In another fantastic piece of driving and skill, as Vidago made his way past Angus Martin, they were both trumped by the fast advancing Crossland who pulled off probably the move of the race to move past both and into second and in hot pursuit of Fullbrook for the race win.
As expected, the final lap was a barn stormer, with Fullbrook, Crossland and Vidago all in with a chance of winning the race. They all ran almost door to door at times as Crossland failed to get past the stubborn Porsche of Fullbrook through Maggots and Becketts, but took the lead with a great move through the Vale Chicane. It was then all about defending from Fullbrook who did a great job of holding Vidago at bay at Abbey, only to unfortunately lose out as the pair entered the final corner of Luffield as they followed Crossland home to the chequered flag.
It was a great win for Crossland after all his promise so far this season, although this win was subsequently taken away from him following a stewards investigation, leaving Vidago to take the victory and cap off a fine race which was certainly a very strong contender for drive of the season. Tim Fullbrook once again put in a dogged display to take second, while Angus Martin was promoted into third to round out the podium positions. Elsewhere, there were brilliant drives by de Baar, Haffendon, Kalsi and Raddenbury who all picked up some good points.
However, in a twist in the battle for the title, Aiden Browe lost out to Karol Sipavicius for sixth, losing his advantage as Sipavicius moved into the Championship lead. In another blow for the unfortunate Browe, Haley had managed to get into 15th and with it Pole Position for the next round, also bunting Browe down to third in the standings in the process. This meant all three drivers were just six points apart with just two rounds remaining.
With Spa and the finale at Brands Hatch still to come, you certainly won’t want to take your eyes off the action with all to play for as the Championship battle continues to heat up.
See you all at Spa.