Will Tregurtha saw his Euro Series GT4 title hopes go up in flames at the Nurburgring, finishing runners-up in the championship in the most agonising circumstances.
Heading into the final round at Germany’s most famous circuit, Tregurtha and team-mate Stuart Middleton were just two points adrift in the title race.
Although starting Sunday morning’s race from 17th on the grid, a long way behind their rivals, things looked increasingly positive just a couple of corners into the encounter when Middleton was able to avoid being caught-up in a collision which did account for Koebolt’s BMW.
At that point of the race, the Ginetta Driver Development Programme duo held an advantage of three points over the Audi pairing of Nicolaj Moller-Madsen and Milan Dontje but things unravelled for HHC shortly after the mid-race pit stops as a result of unseen damage sustained on lap one.
With Milton Keynes racer Tregurtha running just outside the top 10, smoke began to fill the car and, soon after, flames were visible underneath the left-hand side. Managing to get back to the pitlane, Tregurtha bailed out of the Ginetta as soon as he could as marshals worked to put out the fire – extinguishing the title hopes of the 18-year-old team-mates in the process.
Incredibly, three teams finished level on points come the final standings, but Tregurtha and Middleton missed out on races won.
“Obviously I’m gutted,” Tregurtha said. “But it’s nobody’s fault and there’s nothing anyone could have done – without the contact on the first lap we would have been champions. When Stuart pitted, the car was fairly smoky. He’d radioed there was a bit of smoke but we thought it would clear and be OK. The car did start to fill with white smoke more and more, but I knew if I pitted we’d lose the championship. At one point the smoke cleared a little, so I said to the team I thought it was OK, but then the car filled with black smoke and when I looked down I could see the whole car was on fire.
“Despite everything, though, we’ve finished second in a highly competitive championship in our first year in Europe. I’m really proud of the whole team, everyone has done an amazing job. Stuart’s been an awesome team-mate again, I’ve absolutely loved it. We’ve turned up at tracks such as Misano, Nurburgring and Hungaroring with no testing, having never driven them before, and been at the front in qualifying and in the races themselves. That shows how good HHC have been at setting the car up.”