CHARLES Bateman made a great start to his British GT Championship race at Snetterton this weekend - only for suspension problems to force his team to retire.
Undeterred y light rain, he swiftly progressed his Ferrari 458 Italia from sixth to second place by lap four, picking up from the team’s victory at Oulton Park.
A gruelling battle ensued with an Audi R8 LMS, which saw the pair swapping places right up until the pit lane opened on lap 22 for driver changes.
In the meantime a long safety car stint began on lap nine, with the race eventually resuming on the 19th lap.
Bateman, being the stronger of the pairing in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari, stayed out until lap 30.
The team had an extra 20 seconds added to their pit stop due to their previous race win.
Bateman’s teammate Michael Lyons rejoined the pack in sixth and worked his way through to third. The fight for third came to an end on the 43rd lap when the Audi in fourth managed to get alongside the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari on the infield, only for side-by-side contact between the pair to cause damage to the suspension that would see the Oulton Park winners forced into retirement.
“The race was shaping up well for a podium finish for us,” said Bateman.
“It was a very disappointing end after all the hard work in the race and by the team.
“We hope to take back some championship places next race.”
TV coverage of the race from Snetterton will be on Channel 4 at 7am on May 28.
The next round is at Brands Hatch, on June 19.