Carrera Cup GB: Ellinas And Plato Win At Donington
Rounds 3 and 4 of the Carrera Cup GB saw maiden wins for two drivers, Tio Ellinas won the first race with Lewis Plato climbing the top step of the podium in race 2 – however neither had it easy given the calibre of 2018’s closely-matched field. With his new team for 2018, Slidesports Engineering, Ellinas dominated a wet qualifying session to secure his maiden pole position and bag the two points that come with it.
Despite losing his lead early into a wet race 1, former GP2 driver, Ellinas, grabbed victory from GT Porsche contributor, Dino Zamparelli who chased him all the way in a thrilling battle where the two traded fastest lap times. Behind them a notable battle developed between 17-year old Porsche Junior Dan Harper and Plato, Harper made his attack stick with an exciting move on the inside of Plato into Redgate. In the Am category newcomer at Donington, David Shaw, showed impressive pace mixing it with fellow Rookie Peter Mangion, Shaw taking victory in race 1.
Ellinas took the chequered flag followed by Zamparelli, but in a bizarre turn of events Ellinas hit the unlapped Mangion going into the first corner – Mangion still racing and Ellinas on his cool down lap. Mangion’s race ended in the gravel trap and Ellinas was docked three championship points for the incident. As part of the 2018 podium procedure, winner Ellinas selected at random the number five ball, which reversed the grid positions of the top five overall race finishers from round three. This formed the starting grid for round four; Plato, Wrigley, Harper, Zamparelli, Ellinas.
Race two took place the next day (Sunday) and was run over a longer distance (33 laps as opposed to the 23 laps of race one), a move designed to prepare the drivers for the longer sports car races they might encounter further into their careers. Dry this time, the race got underway with Plato holding his front row advantage to grab an early race lead. Behind, Harper made what is fast becoming a characteristically brave move, passing Wrigley in the first corner moving into second position. Zamparelli sat in fourth with Ellinas in fifth. Harper quickly began to slip back, allowing Wrigley to repass him followed by Zamparelli who moved into third place.
On lap nine Harper tangled with Seb Perez, both cars spun yet managed to continue. Pro-Am class drivers Rory Collingbourne and Dan Vaughan got together at the final corner, bringing out the safety car. When the safety car peeled off the track allowing racing to resume, Am rivals Peter Kyle-Henney and Mangion diced for position while at the front of the race Plato, Wrigley, Zamparelli and Ellinas were nose-to-tail for the overall lead. The top four were covered by just 1.2 seconds in the dying moments, but ultimately the positions would remain as they were, Plato taking his maiden Carrera Cup GB victory.
Zamparelli narrowly maintains his championship points lead despite not winning either race at Donington, but with their results Ellinas and Plato have established themselves as potential title rivals. The next round leaves UK shores for Monza in Italy, where the championship will run in support of the ELMS endurance series.