“Cot­trell and his team were spot on”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

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.

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