In Race Reports

Ben Tuck’s 2024 season got off to a flying start last month as he embarked on his dual championship campaign, initially in GT World Challenge (GTWC) Europe at Paul Ricard in France followed by the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) in Barcelona. Both championship opening rounds revealed the huge potential in store for Tuck as he netted a fastest lap and top-5 finish in his debut in France, and similar pace in Spain, which was prematurely cut short after the car had to be retired.

New BRDC member Ben Tuck is pairing once again with his 2023 partner, experienced Bronze rated driver John Hartshorne for both series, joining British team JMW in ELMS, together with pro driver Phil Keen, and Swiss outfit Kessel Racing for the GT World Challenge, with pro driver Matt Bell, both running the brand-new Ferrari 296 GT3.

Preparations with both new teams and the cars gave reason to be optimistic and Ben reinforced this in his Ferrari debut with Kessel Motorsport in the GTWC with an emphatic demonstration of his pace, logging a Fastest Lap on the way to a top-5 finish.  However, the opening race of 2024 did not get off to an auspicious start when heavy contact with another car in qualifying consigned the Kessel crew to the back of the grid for the race.

After an initial stint by Bronze rated Hartshorne, Ben took over the car in 20th position. Recovery charges have become somewhat a speciality for Tuck, and he delivered once again. In his first ever racing stint in the Ferrari 296 GT3, Ben quickly overcame a huge deficit to 19th position and continued to carve his way onward through the field taking position after position. After little more than an hour he pulled into the pits in fifth place having taken the fastest lap in class and would ultimately be shown to be the fastest Ferrari driver of all. The performance put the team in a good position, with co-driver, Matt Bell bringing the car home in fifth place.

Ben was elated at the result and boosted by his performance: “I really enjoyed my stint going from last overall and in class, overcoming a 14-second gap to the next car and pushing on further into the top 10 – and fastest lap of the race in Bronze Cup! Massive thank you to Kessel, the car was unreal, and great drives from my team mates helped to secure a great result!”

The result gave confidence for the following race just a few days later in Barcelona, in the opening round of the ELMS with JMW Motorsport. As with the 2023 season, qualifying was completed by Bronze driver John Hartshorne who placed 11th on the grid. As Ben stood by to take over the car in the final part of the race, Hartshorne handed the car on schedule to Phil Keen after a quiet stint. Unfortunately, the car developed a problem during Keen’s stint and returned to the pits for investigation.

After more than an hour in the garage, Ben took the ailing car back to the track to test out the hasty repairs. The trial lasted only 16 laps before it was clear that the issue persisted, and the car was retired from the race. However, Ben’s average lap time across that shortened stint was still good enough to be the seventh fastest driver in class.

Although a disappointing end, across the two opening races of the season, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic as 2024 continues.

Ben’s next race is in the second round of the ELMS at Le Castellet in France on 5th May 2024.

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