After 12 hours competing on one of the most demanding circuits in world motorsport, the RA Motorsports supported Ginetta GT4 team came home fourth overall following a sensational debut for the Yorkshire marque in the historic event.
Topping almost all of the free practice sessions and qualifying second and fifth for the once round the clock encounter, hopes were high. In immense heat the two Ginetta’s were strong early, holding down first and third positions, but not too long after the halfway mark, Peter Paddon clipped the wall at the notorious Dipper after trying to make some room for the cars battling over second position.
It came at the end of Paddon’s long double stint, which was impacted by the failure of his cool suit. Just a handful of laps from completing back-to-back legs Paddon was out, and the crew quickly worked towards repairing the car for it complete the finish.
Leading early, and comfortably second leading into Shinyo Sano’s time at the wheel, the Japanese driver was thwarted by a string of pit-lane speeding infringements due to a problem with the pit-lane limiter. That dropped them back down the order, but a strong double-stint from him, then Zen Low, Aidan Read and Jake Parsons, brought the #59 into contention for a podium in the closing stages as their rivals began to falter.
Sadly, despite Parsons’ impressive pace leading up to the final pit-stop – where they were up on fourth place by more than three laps – the car failed to take fuel after an internal issue with the fuel tank prevented them from refuelling the car. With no other choice they spent a number of laps looking for a solution, finally discovering one within 30-minutes of the chequered flag, by which time they’d dropped to two laps down on their podium rivals.
Despite the setback, everyone worked cohesively, and all celebrated together the achievement of this new collaboration, working tirelessly to see one car cross the line in fourth place, whilst knowing they had delivered two cars capable of mixing it for the podium.
Mike Simpson, Ginetta Factory Driver #55: “An amazing race, in the end it was all about what could have been for us. It was a difficult race, we had no problems with the car, but we found the wall again. We were in a position to get it to the finish, but we focused all our attention in the final hour to trying to get the #69 car on the podium, but Bathurst cursed us again, we just couldn’t fuel the car.”
Peter Paddon, Driver #55; “You have to show a bit of respect out there, there’s a fairly significant closing speed between the GT3 and GT4 cars so you try and get out of the way wherever possible, so going through the Dipper I was just planning ahead as to where I was going to let them past and for whatever reason I went into the wall. In the end it was disappointing we couldn’t get the car back out with all the effort that the Ginetta and RA Motorsport teams invested in it, but that’s the way it goes – for me though I’ve had a taste of GT racing and it has left some unfinished business, so I’m going to come back and finish what we started!”
Tim Berryman, Driver #55; “It was a very emotional experience, with a lot of positives, but ultimately it didn’t give us the result we came for and wanted, but that’s Bathurst – it’s always fun around here though and the GT experience for me is a new one, but after this weekend, it’s certainly unfinished business for me.”
Zen Low, Driver #69; “So near, and yet so far. At one point we were leading, then some tough luck dropped us to third place, so we kept pushing for many hours until the final pit stop when luck didn’t fall our way. The good news though is that we all had a great time, the car was fantastic up until that final hiccup, so I think for us, it would be nice to come back again and complete what we set out to do.”
Shinyo Sano, Driver #69; “I very much enjoyed my experience in the Ginetta, and really enjoyed my time at Mount Panorama, it was a very exciting circuit and a very exciting race, I can’t wait to come back and do it again!”
Aidan Read, Driver #69; “Overall it was such an unbelievable weekend and to come here for the first time in a GT and put myself in a new situation like that was really good, I got a lot out of it so far as development. Today was a mega race, I had two great stints, really happy with the car, learnt a lot and gave it everything, but I’m really looking forward to coming back here again to take the whole project a step further.”
Jake Parsons, Driver #69; “Unfortunately the fuel issue cost us at the end, but we were in a position for a podium up to that point. Personally I had an awesome time and am happy with how the car and I performed – it’s all positive from my point of view.”
Chris Papadopolous, RA Motorsports Team Manager; “It was such a huge challenge to put together a team and get here in the short amount of time we had to put the program together. It came together quite quickly, and Bathurst is such a huge challenge and to get a team built and equipped through all the resources of RA Motorsports to draw together the team of people to do it together with the huge help from Ginetta Cars that supplied so much of the gear we needed to go racing. I’m thankful that we got to do it and make the finish, and that we made the best of it for everyone despite the challenges we faced, and I think everyone is much stronger for the experience.
“We could have fixed the #55, we had parts in stock, but in the end we focused on the #69 getting to the finish, and additionally #55 had too big an impact to do a really thorough assessment. The option was there to complete the final lap and be classified a finisher, but neither Ginetta nor RA Motorsports are about taking that kind of risk. As for the #69, it was looking really good for us towards the end, we were comfortably on the podium, but sadly luck swung against us and we suffered a refuelling problem in the last pit stop which necessitated some lengthy repairs which knocked us out of contention.”