Ashbourne News Telegraph
It’s mixed fortunes for Sam in latest GT round
MAXIMUM points from two class wins on the Saturday – but a crash on the Sunday to end their race – it was a mixed weekend in the GT Cup for Ashbourne drivers Sam Randon and Richard Marsh in their Team Hard Porsche at Snetterton.
They got off to a perfect start when Randon qualified the car in class pole by a distance, despite a busy field of 36 cars.
Randon then took the first sprint race and led his class from lights to flag with little drama, passing some of the cars from more powerful classes for good measure to finish fifth overall.
Marsh took the first stint in the afternoon’s endurance race and consolidated the class pole position in the opening laps but soon had the fast-charging Nick Phelps filling his mirrors with another Porsche, James Hillery’s, also close behind.
Phelps sneaked past but Marsh stayed with him and after a slick driver swap, Randon regained the place and built a healthy lead to finish comfortably ahead.
“That was another great result and Richard kept us in the race, saving the tyres for me by not battling too hard with Nick at the end. GT racing is all about strategy,“said Randon.
“I knew I had the pace. That was ideally how how we wanted the race to go.”
Marsh added: “Early in the race it was clear that Nick Phelps was a bit quicker than me, at least at the start of the race, so I was having to be very defensive but eventually he did get past. It was an aggressive move but fair, so I refocused and just tried hanging on to the back of him, which I was able to do.
“My motive was knowing that Sam was in the car next and he would be able to chase Nick down – he was doing the entire race by himself.”
Marsh took qualifying and the sprint race the next day and landed his first career class pole in qualifying.
In the 25-minute sprint race, he battled to stay ahead of the class rivals but a Lamborghini, slower through the corners, held him up.
Hillery were eventually able to slip by and Marsh had to settle for third in class.
“I had to drive defensively to keep Nick behind me, which takes you offline and slows you down, so makes you even more vulnerable,” said Marsh.
“I didn’t drive well when I was defending, constantly checking my mirrors but also watching I didn’t run into the back of the Lambo in the slower corners.”
The endurance race brought a bigger problem from Phelps, who had recruited a pro, Sean Doyle, to share his driving.
Marsh took the first stint and was able to pass Hillery’s car on the first lap.
He was able to keep Phelps in view approaching the change, with the prospect of Randon and Doyle dicing for the win.
But as Marsh approached the handover point and on his fastest lap of the weekend, he lost the rear of the car at a corner and could not get it back.
The Porsche kissed the barrier and although the damage looked worse than it was, it was race over for the duo.
“I’m finding the rear very twitchy when the tyres are past their best,” said Marsh.
“I’m just gutted. I glanced the wall and knew immediately it was race over.”
“Not the end to the weekend we had hoped for,” added a rueful Randon.
“It was only a little kiss to the barrier. It’s a shame, as we were ready for a fight but we will be back stronger for Oulton Park in a few weeks’ time.”