22 June 2010

A tough weekend for Barwell Motorsport's Ginetta drivers at Croft.

Barwell contested the fifth event of the 2010 Ginetta G50 Cup at Croft last weekend, with our squad back up to fielding two cars as our full season driver, Julien Draper, was joined by former British GT Champion, Jon Barnes (who was making his 2010 race debut), in the Barwell-owned car. Unfortunately both Julien and Jon were hit during the course of the weekend by the car driven by Stephen Tyldsley, in both cases ruining their races and in poor Jon's case causing him to suffer a big accident which thankfully he emerged from unscathed. Quite rightly Tyldsley has been severely penalised by the Ginetta championship officials for his actions.

This year's Ginetta G50 Cup is proving to be one of the most competitive and hotly contested national championships on the British racing scene. At Croft the series regulars were joined by some top drivers making one-off appearances, including our man Barnes, former G50 Champ and Britain's youngest ever Le Mans driver, Nigel Moore, and former single-seater and one-make saloon star, Stefan Hodgetts (who was in the Ginetta ‘Guest Car'). Incredibly, during official qualifying the pole time set by Tom Sharp was half a second faster than last year's and the top 12 runners were covered by just 0.8 seconds! Julien drove really well to post a time nearly a full second faster than he went in '09, but was still restricted to 14th on the grid, unfortunately this meant he was the penultimate qualifier as around six of the cars that usually form the back end of the G50 Cup grid hadn't made the trip to North Yorkshire for the Croft event. Jon, meanwhile, had never sat in a Ginetta G50 before Friday's short test sessions, and hadn't sat in any racing car since the middle of last year, so was still blowing the cobwebs off on his way to 11th on the grid – with a time that would have put him 3rd last season!

The narrow Croft track is notoriously hard to overtake on, and both drivers found it difficult to make major progress during Saturday's first race. Julien came out on top of a good tussle with Colin White to claim 13th spot, whilst Jon was at the back of a very close-nit bunch of four cars contesting sixth place and eventually claimed ninth as he finished just 0.7 seconds behind the car in seventh position! Unfortunately for Julien in the second race on Sunday morning, he found himself on the receiving end of a completely unnecessary whack from Tyldsley's car on the opening lap, which spun him round and dropped him to the back of the field. Julien recovered well from the spin, but had a lot of ground to make up on the pack and was unable to get back on terms before the end of the 15-lapper. The Clerk of the Course however took a dim view of Tyldsley's move and gave him a time penalty that put him back behind Julien in the results. This was only of small consolation to Julien, though, as he had not had the chance to race properly and climb up the order, and thus improve his starting position for the final race of the weekend.

He then made a good start at the beginning of race 3's 15-lap encounter, and for much of the race was disputing 10th place with Alice Powell and Colin White. Later on the Hetherington brothers, Benji and Freddie, joined in this battle as they were recovering from earlier spins and got onto Julien's tail. Draper defended his place robustly for many laps, and indulged in a bit of door rubbing whilst still keeping the racing clean and fair, but his defence took its toll on his rear tyres and he took 11th position at the finish.

Frustratingly Jon's attempts to move up into the top six in race 2 were handicapped by a technical problem that was not the fault of the team. Having just completely rebuilt our car in the two weeks prior to Croft, we were the first recipient of some new specification driveshafts from Ginetta. Unfortunately these new shafts turned out to be incompatible with the rear hubs and this led to both rear wheel bearings collapsing during the course of the second race. This meant that Jon suffered an increasingly ‘long' brake pedal which he had to keep pumping up before every corner, and the car was handling like a shopping trolley! Incredibly he managed to learn how to drive around the problems after only a handful of slightly slower laps, and then on the last lap of the race he was the second fastest car on the circuit! Annoyingly, however, it had severely restricted what he could achieve in this race and he did well not to lose any places and bring the car home in ninth place.

With a car now back to 100% health, Jon was straight on the attack at the start of race 3, and moved up to seventh spot on lap one. For five laps he was climbing all over the back of the Tom Sharp-driven machine that had won the first two Croft races, and enjoying being able to show that the Barwell Ginetta G50 was now bang on the leading pace. Then on lap six Benji Hetherington came barrelling down the inside of Jon in an ill-judged move, lost control and spun right in front of the Barwell car. This meant Jon had to back off to avoid making contact which cost him a crucial three seconds to Sharp, and he now had Tyldsley behind him. He kept his cool, however, and was able to move up to sixth place on lap eight when Nigel Moore spun out at the fast chicane. Jon then kept Sharp in his sights and had sixth place at least in the bag, when on the penultimate lap Tyldsley drove straight into the back of him at the 130mph Jim Clark Esses, pushing Barnes into the barriers and causing the race to be stopped. This was a very sad end to the weekend for Barnes, but he had demonstrated that he and the Barwell car had front-running pace, even if he wasn't able to score the results that we deserved.

Jon Barnes is proud to be supported by his long standing sponsors, Arai Helmets, Shredding For Bedding, and Headliners Hair Salon.

For more information visit Jon's website at


Jon Barnes Racing 2023