Norfolk teams Super Nova and Virtuosi battle for Auto GP Team Championship title
- Credit: Archant
After a 16-race series, just six points separated two Norfolk teams in the race to secure the Auto GP Team Championship.
Super Nova International, based at Griston near Watton, were the two-time defending title holders, while Carlton Rode-based Virtuosi UK squad were trying to grab the crown from their near neighbours.
The final two races took place at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal, with Super Nova drafting in Vittorio Ghirelli as a replacement for Michela Cerruti, who was undergoing surgery on a back problem, to join Markus Pommer and Francesco Dracone.
Meanwhile, Tamas Pal Kiss and Andrea Roda continued to represent the Virtuosi team, who were also fighting Pommer for second place in the drivers' championship.
It was first blood to Virtuosi, with Hungarian racer Pal Kiss, claiming his debut pole position and two valuable points, who went on to take a lights-to-flag victory and clinch second place in the series.
'I'm very glad to have clinched second in the championship, having taken my first pole position, thanks to the hard work of the team,' reflected the race winner.
The 2013 champion, Ghirelli, finished second after former Grand Prix racer Antonio Pizzonia suffered a slow pit-stop due to a wheel becoming stuck, while Pommer completed a podium lock-out for the local teams.
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However, with Roda in fifth the gap between the two teams had been reduced to just seven points with one race remaining and the top-eight race one finishers reversed to form the grid for the second event.
Things started badly for the defending champions when Ghirelli was forced into retirement with a damaged nose after just four laps. Pal Kiss led the charge to finish fourth while Pommer was in his wheel tracks, with Dracone, who had failed to finish the first race, crossing the finishing line in seventh, a place ahead of Roda.
This resulted in Super Nova retaining their team title by six points, having only lost a single point to their rivals during the final race.
The Norwich pair of Bryan Bransom and Pat Fenn couldn't repeat their winning run in the British Heritage Four-Hour Relay race at Snetterton in the two-hour longer Birkett Relay event at Silverstone.
Fenn crashed his BMW M3 around the half distance mark, having been caught out by cold tyres.
'The damage will require a bit more than a polish,' remarked a philosophical Fenn upon inspecting the damage.
Bransom was scrambled to take over on track with their Road Runners team finishing 21st overall and 46th on handicap of the 69 teams which started the event.