Bateman slips to fifth in championships

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WEATHER and traffic – as well as some quite superb racing – produced a scintillating fourth round of the 2011 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, with Boston racer Charles Bateman taking fifth.

He drove his Pilgrim Foodservice and Henderson Insurance sponsored Ferrari 458 in wet conditions after two huge downpours, soon after lunchtime, thoroughly drenched the circuit, and by the time the grid formed up the circuit was still damp. It was clear that slicks were the only real choice at this point for all runners.

The race settled down with four cars quickly breaking away, Bateman clawing his way through from eighth to fifth.

Before long, Bateman had established himself as the fastest man on the track in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458, and he was soon closing in on the lead battle.

Charles produced fastest lap on the 11th lap, and was up to second place two laps later at Druids.

The lead had grown to more than six seconds, but Bateman began to eat into this over the following laps.

At the half-hour point, spots of rain were detected and soon afterwards this became a full downpour.

With blue skies following the rain clouds, the majority of the field opted to gamble on staying out on slicks – Bateman continued on his charge and took the lead on lap 25 at Surtees.

As the rain subsided the safety car came out, the race went green again less than half a minute before the pit window opened.

The stops began on lap 31, and it was not until lap 39 that Charles came in for the pit change over handing a hefty 13 second lead to his teammate.

Unfortunately, a further brief shower coincided with the number five car re-joining the race, and the lead soon disappeared as Charles’ teammate seemed to struggle to adapt to the slippery conditions.

By the 64th lap podium hopes had evaporated and the team settled for fifth place after 75 laps over two hours.

The Pilgrim Foodservice and Henderson Insurance car is now fifth in the British GT Championship.

This race from Brands Hatch can be seen on Channel 4 at 7am on Saturday, July 2.

The next round takes place at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on July 9.