Barwell win thrill-a-minute British GT race one at Snetterton


Barwell Motorsport’s Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw have taken victory at the first one-hour British GT Championship race at Snetterton after a bit of late race drama involving AmDTuning.com.

At the start Mark Farmer got a great start from the front row of the grid as Derek Johnston and Alasdair McCaig managed to sneak past pole sitter Jon Minshaw. They didn’t stay ahead for long though, as Johnston’s TF Sport Aston Martin and McCaig’s Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S tangled at Agostini – relegating them down to ninth and tenth at the end of the first lap.

In GT4, Jack Mitchell’s Generation AMR MacMillan Racing Aston Martin and Jack Bartholomew’s Beechdean AMR Aston moved up three places each and were sat in first and second.

After that, the first half of the race was punctuated by ever increasing and then suddenly decreasing gaps as Mark Farmer saw his lead look perilous and comfortable in the space of a few laps as Minshaw tried to get his Barwell car in a position to strike, whilst defending from Lee Mowle in the AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 GT3.

Going towards the pitstops, the biggest moves came in the GT4 class as Mitchell started to open up a gap to rivals behind. Also moving was another Mitchell, this time Sandy Mitchell in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S as he dispensed with Jack Bartholomew to move up into second place.

As the pitstops came about, Farmer’s ten second success penalty because of their win at Spa meant they came out in third place with Jon Barnes following Joe Osborne’s BMW and Phil Keen’s Lamborghini. Also making up places in the pits was Ciaran Haggerty who had taken over the McLaren from Sandy Mitchell and Ross Gunn, who took over the Beechdean car a lap before the top two in class pitted.

Back out on track Joe Osborne was closing in on the back of Phil Keen, the older BMW better able to thread through the GT4 traffic it seemed. Closing to within touching distance at points, the battle ended in tears after Osborne dived up the inside of Keen going into the Bombhole and tapped the Lamborghhini into a spin.

Osborne claimed a seven second lead as the lap completed itself, with Keen recovering to second place but falling right into the clutches of Jon Barnes who himself was breaking away from Seb Morris’ Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3.

Morris was having to really manage his position in fourth as he was trying to close the five second gap to Barnes, but had to keep himself ahead of Jonny Adam in the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin who was within a car length of the Bentley for much of the final 20 minutes of the race.

Also making moves was Ross Gunn, who moved into second with relative ease before setting about closing down on the McLaren 570S. Lap after lap he was taking a second out of Haggerty’s seven second lead and as the final lap got underway, he only had 0.270s to overcome to take a well-earned GT4 victory.

Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell took their first victory in the McLaren in GT4 (Credit: Craig Robertson/Racephotography.net)
Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell took their first victory in the McLaren in GT4 (Credit: Craig Robertson/Racephotography.net)

However, as Haggerty told TCF after the race, a last lap incident saved the McLaren’s bacon: I thought I was going to get away at the start [of my stint] but the gap decreased and the tyres started to go off. I had terrible understeer and Ross started to get right on me. Luckily he went off at turn one on the last lap, so I’m just really chuffed that I’ve finally won.”

In third was the Matthew Graham Generation AMR MacMillan Racing machine who couldn’t keep up with the pace of the top two, but still held his own to claim a well-deserved podium.

Back in GT3 it was all kicking off a bit as Joe Osborne felt the cruel hand of race control. That’s mainly because the BMW driver was given a drive-through for causing an avoidable collision going into the last ten minutes of the race, but having decided in his own head not to serve it he was given a 30 second penalty as the flag fell – relegating him down to fifth.

That meant Keen re-took a win in the Barwell Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with Jon Barnes and Mark Farmer finishing a great second in the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin. However, if they didn’t have their success penalty Barnes believed it could have been so much more. He told TCF: “We had a really good race, Mark did another outstanding job, got his head down at the start, got a nice big gap and made life easier for me because it got us away from the pack. We still had Keeny in front of us and Joe as well had a really good stop and was going really quickly.”

“To come out P3 was awesome after the penalty. Obviously Joe and Phil had a bit of an incident, so that helped us.”

In third was Seb Morris who managed to keep the Bentley he shares with Rick Parfitt ahead of Jonny Adam who couldn’t make the progress required in the second half of the race.

The second British GT Championship race takes place at 4.05pm.