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Derby due on top form at Brands

A CLASS win and a class second place made it another good weekend overall for Ashbourne drivers Sam Randon and Richard Marsh in the GT Cup Championship at Brands Hatch.

Story by Asbourne News Telegraph
Pictures by Ian Cutting Photography / GT Cup

For the second round of this year’s championship, racing was condensed into one day featuring two endurance races but not the usual shorter sprint races. Randon got the day off to a great start by posting pole in qualifying with the first and only lap he did.

It wasn’t a totally clear lap but it was good enough,” he said.
I knew what I did last year for class pole so once I saw it was faster we just parked it and saved the tyres.”

IMG_6641A record grid of 46 cars made for a busy day’s racing, although there was a hiccup for the local duo in race one when they lost a strong position owing to a series of time penalties. However, second place in class still brought the Team Hard pair, in their Porsche, maximum championship points as the winner, Sam Allpass, in a BMW Evolution, was competing as an invitational and not part of the championship.

In race one, Marsh took the rolling start and was ahead of the BMW until incurring a five-second penalty for a safety car infringement. When Randon took over at halfway, he was able to build a five-second lead until it was cancelled out by the appearance of the safety car again, then the team were hit by another penalty, for a miscalculated short pit stop.
IMG_6660The complex rules of GT racing take some understanding, even for the competitors and the pair had to settle for second in class.

Richard did a great job leading the class for so long despite the power of that BMW,” said Randon.
It’s the points we need but it just doesn’t feel as sweet, we like to win on track”.
We need to tighten up the pit stop and driver change – not to mention our maths!” added Marsh.

Race two went better. Marsh made up several places, even leaping past the queue of faster GT3 cars at Druids at the start and, as the race settled, was in 12th overall, the best of the rest behind the big GT3/GTO class cars. However, a slip allowed a few others through and when Randon took over, he was 17 seconds behind Allpass’s BMW.

IMG_6613That proved a gap the 26-year-old could close with a series of consistent lap times and he eventually not only passed the BMW but pulled out a 16-second lead of his own to claim an emphatic class victory.
We were then hungry for race two,” he said.
We needed to have that win on the track and we’ve managed it. It was tough, the BMW brought the race to us, but it worked in our favour in the end.
It was a really busy one out there. What a grid of cars, it’s made for some great racing.

The BMW was very quick in a straight line, we didn’t have it easy, so it was a great battle to get past him.
There was no clear air, you’d get through one group of cars and then you’d be on the next group, and then the next group. The traffic from behind as well, it was just full-on.

IMG_6596Marsh is certainly enjoying being part of Team Hard for the first time.
It was a great day – 46 cars on the grid is always going to be fun,” he said.
We’ve taken home full points, we’re happy, the car is in one piece apart from me taking the wing mirror off but that’s what happens.
It couldn’t have gone any better for us really. I’ve got quicker, as this is my second time in the car.
I’m a bit closer to Sam this time, which is part of my objective because he is the constant in the car.”

The GT Cup continues at Snetterton on June 5 and 6.

Marsh defending against the Ginettas

Donington GT Cup triple tonic for duo

SAM Randon and Richard Marsh began their partnership in the GT Cup championship with three class wins from four attempts at Donington Park at the weekend.

Story by Asbourne News Telegraph – April 2021
Pictures by Ian Cutting Photography and Lisa Lynch

GTCUP-IC-GTCUP-IC-DSC_4561The only race to burst their bubble was the opener, when Randon spun off with the class win already in the bag.

The competition looks hotter than ever this season with 38 cars taking to the grid and 11 manufacturers represented. Randon, from Ashbourne, and Marsh, from Kniveton, in their Team Hard Porsche 911, are competing in the GTB class, meaning they are up against a fair few quicker cars competing in different classes, amidst an array of Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and others.

171854731_199402725049480_8026259000679587556_nIn regular GT Cup weekends, there is a morning sprint race on each of the two days, then an afternoon endurance race in which the drivers have to swap over mid-race. A new driver classification – sport-pro – limits the time drivers classed as pro, including Randon, can spend in the car, meaning Marsh has to start every endurance race.

Randon is familiar with the Porsche after last season but, experienced as Marsh is, the car represents a learning curve for him.

“I’ve not driven a Porsche for a long time, so it was quite the experience getting back into the swing of things at the test day on Thursday,” said Marsh.

171561266_359995328719664_4084233193995431553_n“It was the first time in the car. But the new tyres transformed the car at the weekend and I was much more comfortable on the brakes and looking forward to the racing.”

Randon started by taking pole position in class in qualifying before things went wrong in the race.

“Qualifying was busy and I think my fastest lap was actually my first,” he said.

“It was always going to be tricky to get a clean lap in. Thankfully, I was able to early on and secure the pole. To be honest I wasn’t happy with the lap time and I was determined to better it in the race.”

171817578_930118897758110_3950055233428031286_nAfter five laps, he was nine seconds in front of chasing GTB competition with the class victory in the bag. Then, inexplicably, coming out of the Hollywood bend into the fast Craner Curve section, Randon put a wheel on the grass and spun 360 degrees into the gravel, ending his race. It was, he said, no-one’s fault but his own.

“The sprint race was going pretty swimmingly, out in the lead and battling some of the faster GTC and GTO class cars,” he said.

“I even got the time I wanted before I dropped a wheel on to the grass. I was so gutted for the team and I can only apologise.

“I hold my hands up, it was my error.

IMG_6502“I just felt so bad spinning out in front of Richard in our first race weekend.”

At least the format gives drivers a chance to put things right. Marsh made a great start to the endurance race and came in at halfway with the class lead. Bizarrely, they then hit trouble as the course computer suggested they were a whole lap down and in last place.

Randon went out to drive and kept them in the lead on the track before they made a series of appeals after the race. Finally, the glitch was sorted out. It appeared the computer had missed Marsh’s arrival in the pit and, eventually, the class win was confirmed.

IMG_6474“It was a good stint and when I handed over to Sam, I thought we were in the lead,” said Marsh.

“Then the timings said otherwise and we were actually fourth in class and 33rd overall. I couldn’t believe it! “Fortunately, there was a timing issue and Team Hard spoke to the officials and got it sorted, meaning that we took home our first win of the season and I’m delighted.”

The next day saw Marsh take on the sprint race, starting off by posting his best lap of the weekend in qualifying. It put him in P2 for the race but he soon got in front, before being chased all the way in the 30-minute race by Nick Phelps in another Porsche.

“That was hectic. One mistake and a train of four or five cars would came past,” said Marsh.

IMG_6503“The GTC cars were faster in a straight line but held me up in the corners.

“It was so much fun and so competitive.”

When Marsh started the endurance race later, he was behind Phelps but, with his confidence in the car growing, he was able to out-brake the other Porsche into the chicane and get past. At halfway, Marsh arrived at the pit entry four seconds before the pit window opened, forcing him to follow the safety car for another lap. It meant Randon had to take over with the others having gained an advantage – but he was up to the challenge of regaining the lead and brought home their third class win.

“Missing the pit window cost us dearly but it is part of the strategy in GT racing,” said Randon.

IMG_6477“Richard was forced to do a very slow lap behind the safety car, while most of our competition swapped drivers.

“When we finally got to swap places, they were all at race speed so jumped in front of us in track position.”

Marsh was impressed with Randon’s efforts to sort out the problem.

“They were impressive times that Sam did to recover the position” he said.

“What a great start to our season,” Randon added.

IMG_6505“Richard and I worked well together and he was fast from the off despite very little time in the car.

“I hope he has enjoyed his first weekend, that qualifying lap was brilliant.”

The next round will be at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix layout in a one-day shoot-out format on May 1, with with 42 cars registered this time.

Not a bad season then ..

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