TOUGHEST WEEKEND OF SEASON FOR MASSOT & HILLSPEED AT CROFT
Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup front-runner Pepe Massot endured the toughest event of his maiden season in the category at Croft in North Yorkshire over the weekend, 22nd/23rd June, after slipping to fifth position in the driver standings.
Hillspeed’s Spanish sensation, who has been a revelation so far in 2013 in only his second year in cars, just didn’t have any fortune on his side during the fifth race meeting of the campaign and had to be satisfied with a best finish of fifth place in the second of the weekend’s three outings.
Unfortunately, a heavy excursion in qualifying on Saturday – from which he thankfully emerged uninjured – cost Massot the chance to start the first race on the front row, but even though only completing three flying laps he was able to secure third on the grid, a mere 0.064 seconds shy of second fastest.
Shuffled back to fifth position at the start of round 12, Massot was elbowed back to seventh shortly after before coming under intense pressure from Mark Davies. Defending well for several laps, Massot eventually had to give best on lap six and remained eighth to the finish on lap 10.
Beginning round 13 in eighth position, as per the previous result, the teenager remained there until lap three when he was elbowed to ninth having been boxed-in at Clervaux behind a group of battling Ginetta G55s.
Quickly hitting back to retake eighth place, Massot rapidly reeled-in Max Coates ahead and took seventh at the hairpin on lap four before claiming sixth two laps later following a spin for Davies at the complex.
Pressuring Andrew Watson for fifth, Massot slipped to seventh at the Jim Clark Esses behind a resurgent Coates but moved back to sixth when Matt Nicoll-Jones pitted. He then grabbed fifth at the hairpin four laps from the finish to seal a deserved and very hard fought top five finish – at that point maintaining his top three placing in the championship.
Frustratingly for Massot and Hillspeed, round 14 was over almost as soon as it started when the Barcelona native’s car was hit by the G55 of Carl Boardley which resulted in broken rear suspension and retirement to the pits. In doing so, Massot slipped to fifth in the standings but is still only 15 points outside the coveted top three.
“It was a obviously a tough weekend for Pepe, he had good pace in qualifying but the races just didn’t work out for him unfortunately”, said Hillspeed team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “We’re disappointed to have slipped down the championship but Pepe is an incredibly determined young driver and we’ve no doubt he’ll be back fighting for the podium at the next round.”
Things were equally as trying for Hillspeed in the accompanying Ginetta Junior Championship races where car racing rookie Josh White posted his first non-finishes of the season and slipped to 11th place in the standings.
Beginning round nine from the back row of the grid in 12th place, the Ilkley teenager was involved in a lap one tangle with Jamie Chadwick at the Jim Clark Esses which resulted in retirement. Round 10 didn’t get any better unfortunately when another lap one moment led to a second DNF.
“Josh had two very difficult races this weekend but it happens like that sometimes, you just have to bounce back from them and learn which we know he’ll do”, said Ollerenshaw, “All in all it has been a challenging event for the team.”
Both championships now head into a six-week summer break with the next instalment of Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup and Ginetta Junior action set for 3rd/4th August at Snetterton in Norfolk.
In the meantime, Hillspeed will be back on track a fortnight from now on Saturday, 6th July, at Oulton Park in Cheshire for rounds 10, 11 and 12 of the BRDC Formula 4 Championship season. On the same weekend, the squad’s Protyre Formula Renault BARC team will also be in action at Croft.
2013 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup Driver Standings (after Rd14):
5th Pepe Massot, 243pts
2013 Ginetta Junior Championship Driver Standings (after Rd10):
11th Josh White, 97pts