Ginetta G50 GT4 drivers Ryan Ratcliffe & Rick Parfitt Jnr yesterday claimed the 2013 British GT4 title in a fascinating finale at Donington Park, a result which has seen the championship won by four Ginetta teams in the five years since the championship was launched.
No less than six Ginetta G50 GT4 drivers arrived at Donington with a chance of stealing the title, with the main championship protagonists coming in the form of Optimum Motorsport’s pairing of Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfit Jnr, and Century Motorsport’s Declan Jones – who had once again paired with team boss Nathan Freke following Zoe Wenham’s departure from the team. Wenham was keen to challenge for the crown, and joined Rory Bryant at Blendini Motorsport for the final showdown.
Qualifying saw none of the title challengers starting the race form pole position, instead it was new team, Twisted Team Parker who claimed the top spot, headed by Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick in their G50 GT4, however, they were not eligible to score points in this, the final round.
With most team’s electing to start the race with the ‘gentleman driver’ Barwick had a fraught opening sting, which saw him forced to pit with damage following contact with a GT3 car, thus promoting Parfitt Jnr into the class lead.
As the opening hour of the race unfolded, Freke made a pass on Parfitt Jnr and was able to pull out a comfortable cushion over the Optimum Motorsport car before he handed over to Jones for the latter half of the race.
With Ratcliffe in control of the second place G50 GT4 car, the Welshman knew he had to finish inside the top three in order to secure the championship, and despite being handed a stop-go penalty for a pit stop infraction, Ratcliffe had enough of an advantage over the car chasing him to be able to emerge still in second place.
This loss of time however, allowed Stanaway to close the gap to Ratcliffe, and, knowing the Aston Martin driver was not scoring points he let the car through at Redgate to avoid a potential mishap through the Craner Curves, and that is how they finished.
Whilst Jones claimed the overall race win – his third of the season – it wasn’t enough for the championship, and Parfitt Jnr and Ratcliffe wrapped up the 2013 GT4 title by two points, finishing third on track, second in the points.
Ryan Ratcliffe said; “It was a bit frustrating and I could see I was catching Declan all the time, but I didn’t want to put the car in an unnecessary position. And, as soon as I got closer, a group of five GT3s would come past and I had to get out the way. When I got the drive through I was disappointed, but took it and got back out and then when the Aston closed on me I just let him through so there was no chance he could hassle me into the Craners. We’re really happy, it hasn’t sunk in yet and probably won’t for a few days, it doesn’t feel like I’ve won anything.”
Ryan Rick Parfitt Jnr added; “My stint went like clockwork. I had to bide my time getting past Adrian (Barwick) and he was perhaps driving too defensively considering he wasn’t in the title battle. I let him do his thing, then got ahead and then when Nathan came past I sat behind him and just managed the gap.
“I struggled with some of the GT3 traffic today and that is when the Aston Martin, Harry Whale I think, got past me. We got the result we wanted by boxing clever, we didn’t need to win it and if we had to, Ryan had the pace and the grip to win, but that’s how you win championships. I was happy with Ryan in the car, I trust him completely and it was great to win in front of my Dad, it’s the first race he’s ever seen me drive. I’m going to celebrate by having one and a half drinks, which will probably render me absolutely smashed. I’m going to really celebrate by getting married in a fortnight, but I also celebrated when I heard Shaun on the radio say, ‘Box this lap, Rick!’”
In the GT3 class, Ginetta’s factory outlet, Team LNT, had fought their way from tenth on the grid into sixth overall, and were set to challenge for a top three position, when debris pierced a hole in the radiator, subsequently losing coolant forced Mike Simpson to pull off the circuit, rather than risk limping the car back into the pit lane and causing further damage.
Having qualified within the top ten, Team LNT had impressed during free practice, topping the timing sheets on a number of laps, as well as throughout the Sunday morning warm-up session prior to the race.
Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson said; “All three Ginetta G55 GT3 cars showed fantastic pace and reliability at Donington Park. Team LNT prepared a fantastic car and with one of the best pit stops, we looked poised for a very strong result, but unfortunately luck was not on our side once again.
Lawrence Tomlinson, Ginetta Chairman added; “Ginetta are over the moon with the support from all the G50 GT4 customers. All the cars have been prepared and run to a very high standard, making them the class of the field. Ryan and Rick at Optimum Motorsport have had a faultless year and are very worthy champions. With the introduction of the all-new Ginetta G55 GT4 car in 2014, we are hopeful of a sixth GT4 championship winning year.”