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Drama for driver Firman

PUBLISHED: 17:56 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 14:30 14 July 2010

Ralph Firman's defence of his Japanese Super GT crown started off with a bang, quite literally, as the Attleborough racer smote a crash barrier in qualifying for the opening round of the new season.

Ralph Firman's defence of his Japanese Super GT crown started off with a bang, quite literally, as the Attleborough racer smote a crash barrier in qualifying for the opening round of the new season.

Paired with a new co-driver, Takuya Izawa, in the ARTA Honda NSX Firman was determined to make a good start to his 2008 campaign but crashed, without injury, at the Degner Curve while trying to grab pole position for the first race held at the Suzuka Circuit.

Further troubles with the Honda NSX's transmission in the pre-race warm-up session saw the local racer having to start the race from the pit lane, with the team retiring five laps from the finish with more transmission troubles.

Race two proved more competitive for the Honda squad with Firman planting his fully-functioning machine on the front row for the 82-lap race at the Okayama Circuit. Firman started the race and on the 21st lap briefly nosed ahead of leader Benoit Treluyerl as the pair raced up the Pit Straight.

Treluyerl had the better line for the next corner so reclaimed his former position. A few laps later the leaders tripped over a slower car which damaged the Honda's nose.

Firman pitted for repairs and swapped with co-driver Izawa who closed in on the lead car, now driven by Satoshi Motoyama, but spun in his eagerness dropping him to third place, which he maintained to the finish.

Another Attleborough racer, Ben Devlin, started his year off with a bang when he comprehensively wrote off his Mazda-powered Lola sportscar in qualifying for the opening race in the America Le Mans Series.

The BK Motorsport team bounced back in round two, held at the St Petersburg street circuit in Florida, with Devlin and team-mate Gerardo Bonilla taking a solid seventh place and sixth in class, having started the race from 11th on the grid.

“We approached the weekend cautiously, putting the car through its paces and bringing it home in one piece,” said the local racer after taking the chequered flag.

Last weekend the pair raced in round three of the series held at Long Beach, California after an extended test session which allowed both driver to become more familiar with the BP supported car.

The local racer qualified the car in tenth place, which is where the pair finished claiming eighth place in the P2 category.

It wasn't all plain sailing as Bonilla was punted into a tyre barrier during the pre-race warm-up by former Formula One racer Scott Speed, luckily without excessive damage to the Lola Mazda.

Mulbarton's Derek Jones started his season off in fine style by dominating the opening RGB Championship rounds at Brands Hatch.

The local racer started from pole position and claimed fastest lap in the first race on his way to victory, and then repeated the feat in race two.

Attleborough's Paul Rogers was also delighted with his start in the same series, taking a pair of Class B wins and third place on the road in both races.

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