Wessex Motorsport win on their International GT Open debut at Silverstone


Having received the #18 Wessex Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo Rex GT3 from Craig Dolby with forty minuets of the race remaining, and having to overcome fifteen seconds of pit stop penalty time – handed to the team by virtue of it being a new entrant into the 2016 GT Open season, Tomas Enge caught and passed the leaders to win race one at Silverstone on Saturday.

After starting from second on the grid, Craig Dolby was forced wide by Gustavo Yacaman’s #2 BMW Team Teo Martin M6 GT3 as the thirteen car field entered Copse corner for the first time, dropping the Lamborghini to third place.  This would quickly become fourth place after making a mistake going into Beckett’s, allowing Phil Keen, driving the new Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3 through.

There were also issues on the opening lap for Colin Noble, driving the Radical Works Team Radical RXC Turbo GT3 and the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Salih Yoluc.  The Aston Martin driver turning in on Noble entering Stowe corner and causing them both a spin which left Yoluc stranded at the back of the pack.

Whilst all this excitement was taking place, Côme Ledogar, who had started from pole position, drove his Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 away from the field with nobody able to challenge him in what looked like a repeat of his opening stint at Paul Ricard last month.  Phil Keen, giving the Balfe Motorsport McLaren a really competitive debut made a fantastic move on Yacaman at Luffield for second place and he was able to hold that position for the duration of his stint.  Dolby was then able to pass Yacaman for third just before the pit stops commenced.

Notably, Salih Yoluc had been driving an incredible race as he looked to make up the time he had lost on the opening lap.  He had managed to work his way up from last (Thirteenth) to eighth place, as he completed his stint and handed the car over to Euan Hankey

The TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey ad a spirited drive to fourth. (Credit: FOTOSPEEDY)
The TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey had a spirited drive to fourth. (Credit: FOTOSPEEDY)

After the stops, the Garage 59 McLaren now driven by Alexander West was still leading and the Balfe Motorsport McLaren in the hands of Shaun Balfe remained in second place, but was reeling West in during the early part of his stint, and within five laps had caught him.  He was unable to pass him though and ended up having to drive defensively because Tomas Enge had been absolutely flying in the Wessex Lamborghini since he took over from Craig Dolby, catching the lead pair at almost three seconds a lap.

With West and Balfe defending their lead positions from the rapid Enge, Pieter Schothorst, Who was making his debut in the International GT Open for BMW Team Teo Martin in the #1 car alongside Miguel Ramos, had caught the trio and with twenty minutes remaining, made it a four-way battle for the lead.

Inevitably, Enge passed both Balfe and West in quick succession and was able to pull out a comfortable lead and claim the victory.  However, GT Open is seldom without multi car battles for position and another interesting development was unfolding in the closing stages.

As West continued his defense of second position from Schothorst and Balfe, championship leader Fabrizio Crestani in the Orange 1 Team Lazarus Lamborghini Hurracan caught them and It didn’t take him long to pass both Balfe and Schothorst, before taking second place from West.  The Garage 59 McLaren then lost more time when West lost control and spun off the circuit, handing third place to Schothorst and Ramos, and dropping himself down to tenth by the end of the race.

Euan Hankey continued the spirited fight back Salih Yoluc had started in the TF Sport Aston by claiming fourth position in the last couple of laps as he passed Shaun Balfe, demoting the McLaren to fifth place.

Another team making its debut in the championship at Silverstone was the FF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3.  It duly won the AM class, finishing in seventh place overall in the hands of Fox Motorsport team principle Paul McNeilly and Jaime Stanley.  Second in the AM class was the Sports and You Mercedes AMG GT3 driven by Manuel Da Costa and Miguel Sardinha.

It was definitely Wessex Motorsport’s day though, and Craig Dolby seemed delighted with the win;

“It Was a great race, I think I made it a little bit harder for Tomas, I Didn’t get a great start”.  Dolby said after the race had finished.  “My lap times were consistent, so we knew we had the pace as a whole and we knew we had a good strategy. I think we both stuck to it quite well and it definitely worked out at the end”.