Gilbert and Modell lift drivers' laurels in internecine Speedworks duel

03-Nov-2015 John Gilbert and Devon Modell were left celebrating at the end of the 12 Hours of Brno in the Czech Republic, after seeing off Speedworks Motorsport team-mate Tony Hughes in a gripping internecine duel to decide the destiny of the 2015 FIA International 24H Series drivers’ crown.
Going into the weekend, the pressure was off to a degree in that whatever happened, it was guaranteed that either Gilbert and Modell or Hughes would lift the laurels – Speedworks having already wrapped up the teams’ title just over a month earlier in Barcelona. That said, all three men were determined to win, meaning any notions of taking it easy were firmly off the agenda.
In the red corner, team sponsor and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) points-scorer Hughes was partnered in the Hughes Safety Showers-backed Ginetta G50 by British GT regular Piers Johnson and European Le Mans Series podium visitor George Richardson.
In the blue corner, meanwhile, Global Insurance Management MD and track day enthusiast Gilbert and promising young gun Modell teamed up alongside ex-Formula Renault BARC Champion Ollie Hancock in the Global Racing-branded Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
With both cars competing in the SP3 division – for GT4-spec machinery – blows were traded right from the ‘off’ as they lined up second and third in-class in qualifying, separated by a mere three tenths-of-a-second.
Maintaining that momentum, the two Speedworks entries continued to feature up towards the sharp end in the race, the Ginetta leading the class and the Aston Martin running as high as second, although the former would subsequently be plagued by differential woes and the latter encountered a rare gearbox problem.
Once everything had shaken out, it was Gilbert and Modell that narrowly pipped Hughes to the championship spoils by just five points. Not only that, but they respectively placed an impressive 13th and 16th out of 91 protagonists outright, marking a fitting conclusion to Speedworks’ maiden full campaign in the fiercely-disputed pan-European endurance racing championship.
“We’re thrilled with the outcome,” reflected Team Manager Amy Dick, with the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit going on to claim its second rostrum finish in the immensely popular, ITV4 live-televised BTCC with Tom Ingram the following day. “It’s fantastic and very rewarding to have won both the drivers’ and teams’ titles at the first time of asking.
“All of our drivers performed brilliantly and the boys worked ridiculously hard in Brno in conditions that alternated between cold, foggy, dark and wet – and sometimes all four! The pit crew changed the Aston’s gearbox in under two hours, which was a tremendous achievement and as ever, we really can’t praise them enough.
“Congratulations to John and Devon as well as to Tony for putting up such a superb fight – having each played a vital role in the Speedworks success story this year, as far as we’re concerned, they’re all champions!”