Positive Start For Sharp With Top Twelve Finishes
Tom Sharp put down a solid foundation to his 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship campaign with a pair of top twelve finishes in the season opener at Oulton Park last weekend. Sharp and the IDL Racing with CWS team headed into the traditional Easter weekend curtain-raiser in high spirits, following a positive test and development programme with their Ginetta G55 GT3 over the winter break. The weekend started well for the team as they set the eighth fastest time amongst the 34 car field during the first practice session, with Sharp feeling there was ‘plenty still to come’ from the car. An unfortunate incident for team-mate Colin White in second practice through ended their session before they could set a representative time, the loss of running putting them on the back foot for qualifying. A disappointing pair of sessions saw the team record fifteenth and seventeenth place grid starts for the two hour-long races, putting them in the thick of the midfield battle at a circuit that it is notoriously difficult to overtake around in the big GT3 machines. White started the opening race in car, and started positively as he gained a place on the first lap. A spin soon after though lost the team some ground though, before a safety car period gave them an opportune moment to pit and change drivers. Sharp took to the track in sixteenth and once the safety car returned to the pits, the 22 year old began to push forwards. At the back of a long train of cars fighting over the top ten, Sharp brilliantly seized some opportunities over an eventful last few laps to move up to twelfth at the flag. Sharp took the reigns at the start of race two, but hopes of a positive start were dealt a blow when some robust driving in the pack forced him off track on the opening lap, dropping him to the bottom of the top twenty a fair distance from the pack ahead. The BRDC SuperStar remained consistent throughout his stint, gaining a couple of places and posting some strong lap times, before a safety car just before the pitstop window put the team back in contention. Emerging seventeenth with a queue of cars ahead of him, White was able to showcase the Ginetta’s potential as he superbly worked his way up to tenth place at the finish. After seeing their opening weekend of 2013 end in flames, Sharp was delighted to get two finishes on the board to start the year, with the strong pace and reliability shown by the team being a positive sign for the season ahead. Tom Sharp: “Its great to see how far we have come since we raced here twelve months ago. The car has a lot of potential and I believe it will be better suited to the faster more flowing circuits that we visit later on in the year. “Although I would have liked to get more from the weekend, it’s good to come away knowing we have pace and reliability in the car, something we lacked last season. We’re looking forward to the remainder of the season.” The 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship is back in action next weekend, with the second meeting of the season taking place at the unique Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby, Northamptonshire over the May Day bank holiday, the 4th/5th May.