18/09/2014 Strong pace for Simonsen

Danish racing driver Benny Simonsen completed his first season of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park last weekend, securing points in an impressive drive.


It’s been a year of mixed emotions for the Odense-born racer. After the delight of being offered the role to lead the Rosso Verde team, the same squad his late brother Allan drove with, came the emotion and realisation of the job in hand, with Allan having taken the team’s last win back in 2010.


Despite having never raced at the majority of circuits on the calendar, and after missing three rounds due to the business commitments of his driving partner, Simonsen has had a solid maiden year in British GT.


Simonsen impressed in the practice session, setting the table topping time of 1min 29.906secs, demonstrating his ability to run with the top drivers, before team-mate Hector Lester put a solid stint in the second under Simonsen’s tutelage.


The Dane qualified six in his PRO session and his lap of 1min 29.230secs gave the Rosso Verde squad a fighting chance of a top 15 qualifying result.


“It was a good lap, but it wasn’t the best,” he said. “I know where I dropped a few tenths. Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with it though!”


His team-mate had a more challenging affair, and the combined time of 3mins 02.33secs put the pair eighteenth, behind the weight of the GT3 field.


Race day saw the pair warm up with quick pace, finishing fourth, before Lester started the race.

He brought the car to the pits in 17th place after 32 laps, and within a lap of leaving the pits, Simonsen began to march up the order.


Lap after lap, Simsonen progressed and rarely dropped below the region of a 1min 31secs. Frequently, the Dane was the quickest man on track.


After 77 laps of the challenging Donington track, the flag fell and the #3 Ross Verde Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 crossed the line twelfth. It was a superb performance and had luck gone his way, one that on another day might have delivered him championship points.


“I was pretty happy with my speed all weekend; to be the fastest Ferrari in most sessions against AF Corse drivers is always a plus,” said the Dane. “It would’ve been nice to break into the top ten, but we were so close. I always liked Donington as a track when I watched Allan race here, so it was good to produce a good performance.”


Attention now turns to next season, and while he hopes to have further outings in the Rosso Verde Ferrari, Benny is keen to look at other opportunities in the GT3 class.


“I’ll drive anything,” said Simonsen. “I think I have proved that I can run with the top half of the British GT runners. It’s been good to have a near full season for the first time in my career, and I’ve now driven on the majority of circuits that British GT goes too, so it would be a shame to not come back next year. I’m not sure what the plan is with Rosso Verde if I’m honest. It’s a race-by-race deal due to Hector’s business commitments; I hope we can continue together, but either way, I’d very much like to be in British GT next year.”