David Ashburn and Richard Westbrook became the first repeat winners of a closely fought Avon Tyres British GT season, holding off MTECH duo Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron for victory in the first of two 60 minute races at Spa-Francorchamps.
Defending series champion Ashburn had started the no.1 emblazoned Trackspeed Porsche, falling into second place behind the Invitation Class McLaren MP4-12C piloted by Chris Goodwin. On its first international race outing the new car, running in the famous McLaren orange, held off the tried and tested Porsche/Ashburn combination before surrendering the lead shortly before the safety car was called out for an incident involving cars from one of the series the British GT field was sharing the Spa tarmac with.
The intervention bunched the field up just as the pit window for the mandatory driver change pitstops approached, with all the front runners taking the opportunity to pull into the pitlane.
Ashburn handed the lead Porsche over to Richard Westbrook, and benefitting from a shorter minimum stop time after their Brands Hatch DNF were able to lead the pack back out on track, Matt Griffin now second for MTECH as the McLaren faded to fifth. The car was tipped into a spin later in the race, driver Andrew Kirkaldy recovering to 12th place.
At the front of the race Westbrook drove a tactical race – probably unable to win the race against Griffin's Ferrari 458 GT3 on pure pace he used the traffic around the 7km track to keep the Irishman at a safe distance for much of the second half of the race. Griffin made an attempt for the lead at the end of the Kemmel Straight, actually taking the lead for a fleeting moment, before Westbrook re-took the lead.
“The Porsche isn't really a match for a well-driven Ferrari 458,” admitted Westbrook, “so you have to do as much as can; use your head, make a break with the traffic and that's the only way we can compete. It was a good race, and in the end I just had enough. Matt was eating into my lead at the end. It was tough. It's always nice to win, and all credit to David for bringing the car into the pits in the lead.”
The pair of CRS Racing 458s finished third and fourth, Jim and Glynn Geddie netting another podium, after a fine run from eighth on the grid. Jim, opening the driving showed signs of getting to grips with the new car after initially struggling with the new Ferrari.
Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam came home fifth for Beechdean Motorsport ahead of erstwhile points leaders Michael Guasch and Matt Bell. Both Aston and Audi passed Tim Bridgman's ailing Porsche in the closing laps, demoting the Brands Hatch winners to seventh at the checkered flag.
Ron and Piers Johnson claimed their first points in ninth place behind the Predator CCTV Ferrari. The Jones brothers completed the top ten, the only leading team to make the gamble of not pitting under the safety car.
In GT4 Dan Denis and David McDonald kept up their stellar qualifying form by taking their first class win of the season in the Scuderia Vittoria run Ginetta G50. The pair won the class by a clear lap from Century Motorsports' Jake Rattenbury and Josh Wakefield.
“My qualifying yesterday was fantastic,” Denis reflected. “I got a good start and built a comfortable lead, and my pace was good. I was a bit worried when the safety car came out that I would lose my big lead but the team did a great job in the pits and David drove quickly and sensibly. It's great finally to get a win.”
Class points leader Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw had to settle for fifth in class in the newly restricted KTM X-Bow.