Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen proved their wet weather dominance in a damp first hour-long British GT race at Oulton Park this morning. Meanwhile, Adam Balon and Adam Mackay survived a penalty to win on their GT4 debuts after a pitstop issue cost Black Bull Garage 59 an almost certain victory.
GT3: MINSHAW’S MASTERCLASS GIVES BARWELL VICTORY
Barwell Motorsport dominated the day’s first race thanks, largely, to the efforts of Jon Minshaw whose opening stint laid the foundations for a 37.2s victory over the sister Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff. Further back, reigning champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam came through from 11th on the grid to complete the podium finishers.
The morning’s heavy rain had relented in time for the start, but Minshaw made the most of the wet conditions to dive down the inside of Rick Parfitt Jnr’s pole-sitting Team Parker Racing Bentley into Old Hall. By the end of lap one the Lamborghini’s lead was already five seconds, which Minshaw extended to almost 20 before the pit window opened after 25 minutes.
The battle for second was much closer with Parfitt Jnr initially edging clear of Griffin before being reeled in once again. The Huracan’s mirrors were also full of Mark Farmer’s TF Sport Aston Martin, Harry Gottsacker’s Century Motorsport Ginetta and Lee Mowle’s Mercedes-AMG.
Meanwhile, a great opening lap initially helped Johnston pick up three places before inheriting two more when Ian Loggie spun and Mowle ended up in the Shell Oils tyre wall. Sixth then became fourth not long before the pit window opened after Farmer and Gottsacker were both delayed by Tim Eakin’s spinning Nissan 370Z GT4.
While Keen emerged from Minshaw’s pitstop with a healthy advantage, the battle for second was much closer. Seb Morris, who’d taken over the Team Parker Bentley from Parfitt Jnr, rejoined second but struggled initially and was soon passed by Tordoff who set off on an ultimately fruitless pursuit of his Barwell team-mate. The TF Sport Astons had also swapped places during the stops but after first re-passing team-mate Jon Barnes on-track Jonny Adam also forced his way past Morris, who had to settle for fourth at the flag despite a late charge as conditions improved.
Barnes was fifth ahead of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin, who passed Callum Macleod’s Bentley on the final lap. Nathan Freke and Gottsacker’s Century Ginetta completed the top-eight ahead of Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing’s Richard Neary and Martin Short, and the battle-scarred AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG driven by Mowle and Ratcliffe.
GT4: DREAM START FOR TRACK-CLUB’S BALON AND MACKAY
Adam Balon and Adam Mackay enjoyed a winning start to their British GT4 careers at Oulton Park, although any one of three crews might have taken victory in the opener.
The Lotus Cup graduates headed a podium featuring HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton, and Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones before the latter pairing was excluded post-race for a series of driver standards warnings.
Sandy Mitchell led away from pole and looked perfectly at home in the tough conditions by establishing a 10s lead before the pitstops. However, a seized wheel nut soon accounted for his and Black Bull Garage 59 co-driver Ciaran Haggerty’s chances, and gifted a number of teams their own opportunity to claim victory.
Academy looked best placed to do just that after a combative opening stint helped Will Moore overcome front row starter Tregurtha and Balon, who’d originally lined up eighth. While the trio was no match for Mitchell it did manage to pull 30s on the rest of their pursuers before the pit window opened.
Nicoll-Jones emerged with the lead but was soon heading back to the pits to serve an 18s penalty after the team failed to adhere to its minimum pitstop time. That promoted Mackay, but the McLaren had also been too quick through the stops and was subsequently called in for its own 1.5s penalty. However, such was his advantage that the track-club driver rejoined before second placed Middleton could assume the lead. The pair were covered by 8.8s at the finish.
Nicoll-Jones crossed the line third but was subsequently excluded as a result of Moore’s driving standards in the opening stint. That promoted PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson who continued their record of scoring a podium in each of their five British GT4 races at Oulton.
Macmillan AMR’s William Phillips was in the thick of the fight for fifth before the pitstops, and rookie co-driver Jan Jonck ensured it was a battle the crew won after climbing aboard. Their Aston Martin finished just ahead of David Pittard and Alex Reed’s Lanan Racing Ginetta, which started last, and David Pattison and Joe Osborne’s Tolman Motorsport McLaren. Nick Jones and Scott Malvern completed the top-eight.
Jon Minshaw, #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “I’m a bit annoyed because Keeny said I had to pit with a 20s lead and I only had 18…! It’s my home circuit and the car’s very good in the wet. Perhaps the Aston and Bentley aren’t quite as good in those conditions, but I think it’ll be a different story if the second race is dry.”
Liam Griffin, #6 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “I felt more comfortable as the stint went on and stuck with Rick [Parfitt Jnr] for pretty much all of it. I’m not exactly famous for my wet weather driving but that was one of my better efforts! I like this circuit and feel comfortable here. It was a good race and Sam did a great job to overtake the Bentley and then leave it behind. The car’s set up very well for the wet so I’d happily take another!”
Jonny Adam, #1 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “It was a question of damage limitation – we knew we needed to come through in this one. Derek drove a very sensible stint and a few went off in front of him, so he just picked his way through. But the car was a real handful at the end as the tyres went off. Seb was very strong so I focused on covering him. It’s nice to get a podium but the Lambos with their mid-engine layout look very quick in the mixed conditions.”
Adam Balon, #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4: “The start was pretty hairy with a lot of spray – a lot more than I was expecting, actually. There was an element of just hoping to get through the first lap but I got through safely and managed to keep the pace going. I had a great scrap with the Aston and Ginetta so all in all a great start for us, even if we did get a little lucky with the penalty!”
Will Tregurtha, #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “It’s not a bad start, is it?! HHC has done such an amazing job, especially as we haven’t had that much time in the car. So I’m so, so happy with second. Stuart drove well but we also got a bit lucky – the conditions were tough and my windscreen wiper stopped working so I couldn’t see a thing! We didn’t have any expectations so this is a great start.”
The day’s second hour-long British GT race takes place at 15:15. Watch it live on Front Runner TV, Motor Trend On Demand and British GT’s Facebook page.