Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen enjoyed a perfect start to their 2017 British GT Championship campaign at Oulton Park earlier today after making it two wins in one afternoon, while an action-packed GT4 race ultimately went the way of Lanan Racing’s David Pittard and Alex Reed after the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren received a post-race penalty.
The hour-long race ended behind the Safety Car after Ian Loggie and Richard Neary crashed heavily at Hilltop. Both drivers were uninjured but with debris littering the track and barriers damaged the decision was taken to end the race five minutes early.
GT3: KEEN AND MINSHAW MAINTAIN THEIR PERFECT START
The #33 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 was once again in a class of its own at Oulton. After dominating a wet opening contest the crew proved equally adept in the dry conditions before the race-ending Safety Car period reduced their winning margin to just 1.9s over TF Sport’s Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam who once again came from 11th to score a podium. Team-mates Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes completed the top-three.
Once more the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley lined up on pole but, as in Race 1, it was the Barwell Lamborghini that rounded Old Hall first after Seb Morris’ sluggish start helped Keen and Callum Macleod move ahead.
Morris’ response was to attempt to re-pass his team-mate on lap two at Hislops, but the Welshman only succeeded in tipping Macleod into a spin for which he was subsequently hit with a drive-through penalty. That played into the hands of TF Sport who soon had Barnes running second after starting fifth and Adam up to fourth, which became third when Sam Tordoff’s Barwell Lamborghini pulled off and into retirement.
Adam continued to pressure Barnes thereafter but neither had the pace to trouble Keen who pitted at half-distance with a 14s lead, enough to cancel out the 10s success penalty he and Minshaw had to serve as a result of winning Race 1. Indeed, Farmer was still someway behind the Lamborghini after the stops played out, and then gifted Johnston second place after a brief trip across the grass.
Moments later Loggie made contact with Neary, triggering the race-ending Safety Car period. Fourth therefore went to Spirit of Race’s Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin who avoided the travails of others to bring their Ferrari home fourth after starting 12th. Parfitt Jnr and Morris recovered from their drive-through penalty and the latter’s subsequent spin to salvage fifth on a weekend that promised so much more, while Jack Mitchell and James Littlejohn’s Macmillan AMR Aston Martin completed the top-six ahead of Lee Mowle and Ryan Ratcliffe’s Mercedes-AMG.
Macleod’s race might have been compromised by Morris but the Team Parker Racing driver rallied to set the Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend and new British GT3 record to boot: 1m34.624s. Elsewhere, AMDTuning.com with Cobra Exhausts picked up the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award after completing repairs to their Mercedes-AMG moments before the start of Race 2.
GT4: REED AND PITTARD PROFIT FROM BLACK BULL GARAGE 59’S PENALTY
Lanan Racing and Alex Reed claimed their second British GT4 victories, and David Pittard his first on debut, following a frenetic second race at Oulton Park. The Ginetta pair finished runners-up on the road but inherited victory as a result of Black Bull Garage 59’s Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell having 30s added to their overall race time after falling short of their minimum pitstop time.
It was a similar story for Macmillan AMR’s William Phillips and Jan Jonck whose added time post-race moved In2Racing’s Marcus Hoggarth and Matthew Graham, as well as PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, into the podium places after they originally finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The race began with pole-sitter Mike Simpson making contact with Haggerty who was then tagged by Martin Plowman’s UltraTek Nissan and finally rear-ended by Joe Osborne. The latter collision resulted in the Tolman Motorsport McLaren losing its bonnet and Haggerty having to re-start his car after the force of the impact cut its transmission.
While Haggerty dropped back a fabulous seven-car battle developed at the front. Simpson’s battle-scarred Century Motorsport Ginetta retained the lead initially until Plowman forced his way past. That brought Scott Malvern’s Team Parker Racing Porsche into contention but he only succeeded in tagging the back of the Ginetta, which went spinning on the exit of Cascades.
Plowman used that tangle to make good his escape at the front, and when he pitted the UltraTek Nissan enjoyed a five second lead over nearest rival Adam Mackay whose track-club McLaren would have to serve a 10s success penalty for winning Race 1.
No-one at that stage was looking at the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren which, in Haggerty’s hands, had spent the opening stint making up lost ground. The Scot pitted early from ninth and changed on to fresh tyres that Mitchell then used to take chunks of time out of those ahead, as well as set the Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend. He was up to second once the stops had shaken out and passed Reed on-track for the lead before Neary and Short’s race-ending incident.
The Safety Car prevented Mitchell from serving his team’s penalty, which translated into the 30s post-race penalty that promoted Reed and Pittard. They’d originally pitted from third after running behind Plowman and Mackay before the stops, but emerged with the lead before Mitchell closed in.
Hoggarth and Graham finished fourth on the road behind Phillips and Jonck after battling in the the lead group during the opening stint, but claimed second when both the Macmillan AMR Aston and race-winning McLaren were penalised. Reigning champions Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson inherited their second podium in as many races to maintain their record of never finishing lower than third at Oulton, while William Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton backed up their Race 1 rostrum with fourth for HHC Motorsport.
Black Bull Garage 59’s Dean Macdonald and Akhil Rabindra enjoyed a consistent run to fifth ahead of Race 1 winners Balon and Mackay, who pitted from second but lost time while serving their 10s success penalty. Haggerty and Mitchell’s additional 30s dropped them to seventh ahead of the similarly penalised Phillips and Jonck who finished ahead of UltraTek’s Plowman and Taffinder who faded after the stops. Malvern and co-driver Nick Jones recovered to complete the top-10.
Phil Keen, #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “I guess Seb [Morris] had a problem at the start because the Bentley seemed to be coughing and spluttering. It didn’t look like he was going anywhere so I just waited for the lights to go out and nipped through before getting my head down. After that it was a simple case of avoiding the wet patches. I pushed hard to make up the 10s we knew we’d lose at the stop, and Jon brought it home from there. He’s driven brilliantly this weekend.”
Derek Johnson, #1 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “Two podiums from the back of the grid is phenomenal, isn’t it? The track was only dry on the racing line – get off of that and you’re in trouble round here. I’m over the moon after Jonny [Adam] couldn’t qualify and my incident in the Am session. It’s been tough but we’ve made a good start to the title defence.”
Jon Barnes, #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “That was an interesting one! I made a really good start and managed to get past Sam [Tordoff] who looked to be stuck behind Seb Morris’ Bentley, which didn’t get away too well. I then had a great view of the two Bentleys coming together – I could see what was going to happen all the way back at Brittens! That eventually gave me P2 and I had the measure of Jonny [Adam], so P3 at the end is a good start for us.”
Alex Reed, #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4: “I thought I’d thrown away the win by spinning when Sandy came past but then hoped the Safety Car might give us a second chance. Then my engineer said the McLaren had been penalised and I couldn’t believe it! I hope the TV caught my spin because it’s probably the highlight of my year – a proper 360 at Druids that I somehow gathered up. I got very, very lucky with that. Crazy day for everyone.”
Marcus Hoggarth, #29 In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4: “That was a mega GT4 race with a little bit of a mega GT3 race thrown in! I came out of the pits just ahead of Graham [Johnson] so I had to get on with it! The McLaren’s a great car but, importantly, it’s very easy to drive. It looks after you. Matty also did a great job in his stint by going from 12th to fourth. Mega effort.”
Graham Johnson, #501 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “We made a fundamental change to the car before the second race and it felt a lot closer to what we had last year. It’s not quite there but it was a lot better than pre-season and I had huge confidence in it. Without the Safety Car I think we had the pace to move forward anyway. The McLarens are very fast in a straight line and it’s tough to pass around here but I’m pleased with a double podium.”