Team Abba Racing Do the Double as WPI Motorsport hits Trouble

0
143
The duo of Richard and Sam Neary were the class of the GT Cup Championship field for Team Abba Racing. © Ian Cutting Photography

Team Abba Racing claimed their second GT Cup win of the weekend at Donington Park, after WPI Motorsport encountered problems.

Saturday Practice – Tilley sets down the Gauntlet

Ahead of the 15 minute practice session, the teams focused on setting up their cars for qualifying.

The weather conditions at Donington Park were bright and dry, albeit a bit chilly.

At the start, Team Abba Racing’s Sam Neary who flew around the circuit in the #88 Mercedes AMG GT3.

Having gone purple in sectors one and two, Nearly initially went fastest with a time of 1:08.544.

Though, his time at the top doesn’t last long as Michael Igoe in the #18 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 goes faster with a 1:07.142.

However, it was Grahame Tilley’s #4 Nissan Nismo GTR GT3 that was in a league of its own.

Tilley managed to shatter the morale and was almost two seconds clear with a lap of 1:05.390.

On their second attempts, Neary could only manage a 1:06.300 and lost second Igoe’s time of 1:05.784.

John Seale in the #55 Lamborghini was tenths adrift of Neary in fourth, ahead of the Lucky Khera in the #247 Lamborghini.

Elsewhere, Richard Chamberlain’s #5 Porsche was struggling, and would eventually finish the session four seconds adrift in tenth.

Seale then headed out on his second run to improve to go third with a 1:06.032.

Then, out of nowhere, Igoe’s final lap dethroned Tilley at the top of timesheets.

After going fastest overall in sector two, a lap time of 1:05.124 left Igoe two tenths clear of Tilley’s Nissan.

Top Ten: Igoe, Tilley, Seale, Neary , Khera, Dhillon, Kemp, Burgess, S.Proctor,  Chamberlain

  • Race Control: Lap times will be removed for track limit infringements during qualifying.

Qualifying – One Lap Enough for Neary To Take Sprint Race Pole

First out on track is Seale’s Lamborghini, setting the first time of 1:06.769. The #36 McLaren of Stewart Proctor slotted into second with a 1:07.143, with Chamberlain a further second behind in third.

Next over the line was Lucky Khera in the Simon Green Motorsport #247 Lamborghini. A 1:08.951 was good enough for fourth, ahead of Topcats Racing’s Warren Gilbert in the #9 Lamborghini.

Soon, the track temperature started to improve. Igoe took advantage to go third with a 1:07.148, whilst Tilley’s 1:07.996 was good enough for fifth place.

Shortly after, Tilley went quickest with a time of 1:06.284, only to pipped to provisional pole by Khera’s time of 1:06.235.

Team Abba in Control as Track Limits Violation Costs Igoe

Then, in the final ten minutes, Richard Neary’s sole run in the #88 Mercedes was more than good enough. A time of 1:05.030 put Team Abba eight tenths clear at the top of the time-sheets.

With seven minutes to go, John Dhillon’s #61 Lamborghini moved up one place into fifth with a 1:06.621.

Then, in the latter stages of qualifying, Igoe pushed as he set personal best sector times. Despite this, Igoe’s time of 1:05.710 was only good enough for second.

Elsewhere, Chamberlain’s 1:06.001 saw him finish in fourth, while the #7 Radical of Steve Burgess took seventh on a 1:06.418.

In the dying stages, Khera moved into second with a time of 1:05.693, only to beaten at the death by Igoe’s 1:05.463.

However, after the session, the stewards deleted Igoe’s time for a track limits infringement. Consequently, the WPI Motorsport driver dropped to third behind Khera for the Sprint Race.

Sprint Race – Igoe Punishes Khera’s Early Mistake

The Sprint Race saw a great start for Sam Neary in the #88 Mercedes to lead the pack into Turn 1. Behind him, Lucky Khera’s #247 Lamborghini held onto second ahead of Michael Igoe in the #18 Lamborghini of Michael Igoe.

As the field approached Redgate, Khera ran slightly wide, which allowed Igoe through to slip into second place.

Neary started to pull at the front, setting consecutive fastest laps, with the latter being a 1:05.083.

Further down the pack, Topcats Racing’s Warren Gilbert had moved up to ninth after a difficult qualifying, and battled hard with the #7 Radical of Ben Dimmack.

As Khera struggled to get up to speed after his track excursion, he began to lose touch with Igoe. At this point, Neary continued to go quicker, setting a new fastest lap of 1:04.938.

Matthew Lewis is the first retiree of the race, after pulling at Starky’s Bridge in the #52 Aston Martin with suspension failure.

Dimmick also has a moment Schwantz Curve, going off track and filling his Radical’s radiator grills and intakes with grass.

Technical Problems Bring Igoe’s Race to Premature End

At the end of lap five, Igoe pulls his #18 Lamborghini into the pits to retire with an unidentified technical issue. However, the car would later go out to check the necessary fixes were successful ahead of the pit stop race later on.

Dimmick made an early stop to get the grass cleared from the radiator grill and intakes and rejoined the race in a distant 23rd place.

As a result of Igoe’s early retirement, Neary led Khera by 11.3 after seven laps, the #4 Nissan of Tilley in 3rd and Chamberlain in 4th.

This early advantage is then wiped out after the #911 Porsche of James Hillery spun at Mcleans and is beached in the gravel trap.

 

Luckily for Neary, the Team Abba driver had nine backmarkers between himself and the chasing duo Khera and Chamberlain.

So, when the Safety Car period ended after Lap 11, Neary remained unchallenged, as Khera and Chamberlain fought their way through.

To makes matters worse for Chamberlain, he was handed a five-second penalty for an illegal overtake behind the Safety Car.

The safety car come in at the end of lap eleven and Neary has a great restart but is unchallenged because he has nine between him and the #247 of Khera in 2nd place.

Neary Increases his Lead as Seale Drops Out

With five laps to go, Neary was cruise control and held a 19.5 second lead of Khera’s Lamborghini.

Behind them, Chamberlain and Seale were locked in a great battle over fourth place. Unfortunately, this was brought to an abrupt end when Seale was forced to retire two laps from the end.

As Sam Neary started the final lap, light snow began to fall at Donington in spite of the presence of sunshine.

Nevertheless, Neary went to claim a well-deserved win for Team Abba Racing. Lucky Khera was 24 seconds adrift in second with Chamberlain taking the GTO honours in third.

 

Warren Gilbert’s sixth place finish was enough claim the GTC win for Topcats Racing.

Post-race, the stewards handed out five-second penalties to both Khera and Dimmick for overtaking under the safety car.

Front-Runners Absent from the Pit Stop Race

Ahead of the pit stop race, four cars were unable to make the starting grid.

Richard Chamberlain and Matthew Lewis both failed to start due to damage sustained in the Sprint Race. Additionally, JMH’s John Seale and Abbie Eaton didn’t take part due to an unknown problem.

Lucky Khera’s Simon Green Lamborghini was also absent due to pre-existing work commitments.

After winning Race Three, Team Abba Racing were competing on used tyres for the pit stop race.

“We are using tyres from the sprint race in the endurance race,” Sam Neary explained.

“It will be a bit of a hindrance but we will manage as best as we can. ”

On top of this, the #911 Porsche of 24/7 Motorsport was forced to start from the pit lane, due to wrong tyres being fitted on the car.

Neary Holds Off Igoe at Start

With the final race of the weekend got underway, Richard Neary and Michael Igoe dueled at the front, while Andy Robey’s #29 Marcos Mantis spun at Roberts.

Elsewhere, the #7 Radical of Burgess and the #36 McLaren went side by side through Hollywood over fourth place, with the Radical coming out on top.

As Neary led Igoe by half a second, the downfall of the #36 McLaren continued and dropped to sixth behind Dhillon’s #61 Lamborghini at the Schwantz Curve.

Dhillon then continue to progress through the pack, and took fourth from Burgess at Roberts.

Igoe showcased he wasn’t going down without a fight. and posted the fastest lap of 1:06.387 to stay in touch with Neary’s Mercedes.

Neary then responded with a fastest lap of his own with a time of 1:06.027 as the pair started to encounter back-markers.

Burgess Off Again as Neary and Igoe Battle Heats Up

Burgess went off again in the #7 Radical, this time into the gravel trap at Redgate but was able to continue.

On Lap Seven, the duo of Neary and Igoe were seperated by just 0.327 seconds, with the latter eager to make his move. Tilley’s Nissan is eight seconds down the road in third place.

Meanwhile in GTB, the Porsches of Nick Phelps and Richard Marsh fought over the class lead. As the pair approached Redgate, Marsh moved alongside to pass and take over proceedings.

Great battle for the GTB lead between cars #35 and #34 in 12th and 13th place and cars #80 and #26 are reeling them both in, as the #34 Porsche takes the #35 Porsche at Redgate and takes the lead in GTB.

At this stage, the Black and White flag is shown to Igoe’s #18 Lamborghini for a track limits violation.

As Igoe became more cautious around the track, Neary opened up a small gap of 1.2 seconds

Contact and safety car deployed

The Safety Car made another appearance following a collision between the #80 Ginetta of Craig Wilkins and Nick Phelps’s Porsche. On the run up to Coppice, Wilkins tapped the rear of the #35, which went Phelps into the barrier.

Subsequently, Phelps was forced to retire with suspension damage, as the Safety Car picked up the race leaders.

In GTB, the #3 Marcos of Charlotte Gilbert also retired after damage sustained to the right front of the car.

At the end of Lap 17, the racing resumed as saw the slower cars make their stops as their pit window opened.

Back at the front, Igoe is right on the tail of Neary and quickly posted a new fastest lap of 1:05.536.

Igoe takes the Through Roberts

As the pair made their way towards Roberts, Igoe made his move and took the lead. Neary didn’t put up much of a fight, knowing that Igoe’s Lamborghini has a 20-second success Penalty at the pit stops.

The leaders then pitted at the end of Lap 24, temporarily handing the lead to Burgess’s #7 Radical.

As a result of the success penalty, Sam Neary emerged out of the pits ahead of the #18 Lamborghini, now driven by Phil Keen.

A lap later, Burgess pitted to hand over the #7 Radical to teammate Ben Dimmick, which the lead back to the #88 of Neary.

Tregurtha Pulls Off Late Move for Podium

At the conclusion of the pit phase, Neary held a lead over almost 19 seconds over Keen.

Aboard the #4 Nissan Nismo GTR GT3, Will Tregurtha was flying and posted a new fastest lap of 1:05.416.

In the latter stages, Tregurtha would pull off a pass on Phil Quaife’s #61 Lamborghini to take third place.

But it was Sam Neary who claimed victory, completing back-to-back wins for Team Abba Racing. Late on, Neary also posted the fastest lap with a 1:04.892.

Keen and Igoe took a distant second, rounding up a weekend of highs and lows for WPI Motorsport.

Tilley and Tregurtha took third in the Tersecv Nissan, ahead of Dhillion and Quaife in the Scott Sport Lamborghini.

Despite a five-second time penalty, Balfe Motorsport’s Lewis and Stewart Proctor were to claim fifth place.

The #7 Radical of Steve Burgess and Ben Dimmick were GTO winnners and a lap down overall in sixth.

Topcats Racing achieved their second win of the day in GTC, and their fourth of the weekend following their wins in GTC and GTB on Saturday.

The next round of the 2021 GT Cup Championship will be held at Brands Hatch on the 1st May 2021.

 

 

LEAVE A REPLY