Ginetta factory driver Charlie Robertson, Ginetta GT4 Supercup frontrunner Tom Hibbert and the Simpson Motorsport team enjoyed a perfect weekend of racing in the GT4 European Series Northern Cup at Brands Hatch.
The #100 Ginetta G55 GT4 was on pole position for both races and scored lights-to-flag victories in both, with the drivers dealing with the pressure of numerous safety-car restarts in both to ensure the fantastic double victory.
The first race saw the Simpson Motorsport car lead pretty much from lights to flag, dropping off the top of the timing screens only during the pit stops halfway through the hour-long race. Hibbert started and built up a comfortable lead, but his efforts were undone by two safety-car periods.
On both occasions the GT4 Supercup ace held his nerve and saw off pressure from the Ekris Motorsport BMW M4, allowing him to hand the car over to Robertson without drama at the stop.
Taking over, the Ginetta factory driver immediately set the race’s fastest lap to that point, but his efforts too would be undone by a safety-car deployment and like Hibbert in the first stint he had to see off the aggressive Dutch BMW when the green flags flew again.
In race two, it was Robertson who took the start and the pattern of the morning’s event was repeated when he saw an eight-second lead wiped out by a safety-car intervention mid-way through his stint. The yellows stayed out right up to the pit window opening, but Robertson left it another lap or two before pitting to hand over to Hibbert.
As furious battles raged further down the order and more safety cars had to be called for more competitors finding the gravel, Hibbert kept his head and made serene progress at the front of the field, meaning he was in the lead when the race organisers were forced to red-flag the race a few minutes early due to the number of stranded cars needing to be recovered.
The Northern Cup’s other Ginetta entry, the #26 G55 of French team CMR By Sport Garage driven by Nyls Stievenart and Soheil Ayari, ran high in the top 10 in the early stages of race one, but ultimately crossed the line 19th. The outfit had much stronger and more consistent run in the second encounter, coming home a superb fifth after plenty of close battling in the top 10.
Charlie Robertson: “It was a hard with all the restarts in race one, but we just had to keep working at it, not losing our heads and making sure we got the jump off the line on the restarts. On the last one it was tough, the BMW almost had me into T1, but I knew we could just stretch our legs a bit when we got some clear space and that’s what we did. It went really well actually, the car was consistent and easy to get a time out of without pushing too hard.
"In the second race, there were too many safety cars really, but that was the only real problem. The car felt mega – we got a great lead at first and then the safety car came out. I was going to pit under the safety car, but it came in so we had another few laps out unplanned. Tom brought it home to complete a perfect weekend: we couldn’t ask for more than a double pole and double win. Mega job by Simpson Motorsport all weekend and big thanks to Ginetta for the chance to race in European GT4.”
Tom Hibbert: “The first race was really good, my first GT4 European Series win felt great! The BMW was so quick down the straight but we’re good in the corners, so being able to get that gap initially was important, as it’s easy for them to get by on the long straights. It’s all about the start, I knew if we could stay in front from the off we’d be alright.
"The second race was interesting, Charlie did the hard work at the start really, and at the end I was getting a bit tense in the car as the tyres were starting to go off, but we held on for the win. Simpson have done a fantastic job and I’ve really enjoyed the weekend.”