“Cottrell and his team were spot on”
There comes a time when enough is enough. And at about 1640hrs on Sunday Silverstone had definitely had enough.
After a day of constant drizzlecome-rain-come-drizzle-again one final deluge hit the Northamptonshire circuit, and it was Biblical.
Gutters overflowed, garages flooded, as did the door of the media centre. There was no way anything could race in that, unless somebody had a powerboat handy.
British GT clerk of the course Bernie Cottrell has come in for a fair amount of stick in recent seasons – not all deserved may I add – and I’ve been forced to make many a Monday morning phone call his way for a catch-up on complaints. But this weekend, Cottrell and his team, got everything pretty much bang on.
British GT’S showpiece Silverstone 500km race could have easily been red-flagged when the rain intensified mid-race. Conditions were treacherous with limited visibility. OK, there was one safety car blunder when it struggled to pick up the right man in the spray.
But the right calls were made throughout what was a very difficult race. The safety car made appearances at key moments, and was deliberately left out to nurse the race through the most dangerous moments, all without stopping it dead, meaning as soon as things brightened up, we could enjoy some racing again without delay.
Cottrell’s calls went far further than just the weather too. Many British GT3 crews, and GT4 too, had issues or near-misses with the European GT4 entries, which aren’t used to racing alongside faster cars. SRO and Cottrell – along with driver steward Michael Vergers – called an emergency driver briefing on Saturday morning to stamp out bad driving. All crews were called to the garage beneath race control, and the shutters rolled down. Fortunately a microphone was used so the riot act was still clearly audible outside, if a mic was even needed. If that didn’t act as a wake-up call for drivers struggling to pay attention to their surroundings I don’t know what will.
The race itself was much better, with limited examples of contact, despite it taking place in the worst of the conditions. Barring Liam Griffin’s accident ( see story, left), contact was kept to a minimum and any clashes were dealt with swiftly by the stewards.
But good stewarding also comes down to timing and consideration, and we had that too. Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne could easily have been pinged with a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release from their pit box mid-race, but Osborne asked for the matter to be looked at after the race instead as he believed there was a valid defence to the charge.
Sure enough Cottrell welcomed it, and post-race camera footage revealed no deliberate offence, allowing Mowle and Osborne to keep a wellearned podium that could so easily have been lost.
Then came the floods, and the call to abandon ship was absolutely the right one, endorsed by officials, teams, drivers and even soggy media.
Well played Mr Cottrell and co, some long overdue credit heading your way.