Minshaw & Keen blitz the field to win first British GT race at Oulton Park


Credit: Nick Smith/TheImageTeam.com

The Barwell Motorsport crew of Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw obliterated the field to claim the first victory of the 2017 British GT Championship at Oulton Park.

Eventually winning with more than 37 seconds in hand over their team-mates Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, the Demon Tweeks-backed pairing were untroubled throughout the hour-long race.

At the start Minshaw powered away from the pole-sitting Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Rick Parfitt going through Old Hall and didn’t look back, finishing lap one with a five second lead.

In the GT4 class, Sandy Mitchell led from pole position in the Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S to cross the line first-time round with a couple of car lengths over Will Tregurtha in the HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4.

Not having such look at the start was James Littlejohn, his Macmillan AMR Aston Martin Vantage started smoking heavily on the grid before the green flag lap and had to be pushed up pit-lane sans coolant.

With the race only being one-hour long, the action was frenetic from the get-go. Lee Mowle was a man on a charge as he hustled the Mercedes AMG GT3 of AmDTuning.com up the order, diving down the inside of Harry Gottsacker in the Century Motorsport Ginetta GT3.

It would go wrong for Mowle a lap later though, running wide at Island Bend he put wheels on the grass and hit the barriers on the inside of the Shell Oils hairpin. He would carry on but down in 26th place.

For one team it was getting much better. Starting at the back of the GT3 field, Derek Johnston in the TF Sport Aston Martin quickly climbed to sixth place before the pit window opened.

When the pit window did open, Minshaw jumped into the pits with an 18 second lead to hand over to Keen. After the race Minshaw said it wasn’t the gap the team hand wanted: “Before the race, I was talking to Keeny and he said he wanted a 20 second lead when I came in to hand over! It wasn’t quite that, but it was close enough.”

Just after their pitstops and TF Sport were racing each other out on track, with Jon Barnes on the receiving end of a perfectly timed lunge from Jonny Adam to move up into fourth place.

Ahead of the Aston Martin pair, Sam Tordoff was making the most of his first British GT race in the Barwell Lamborghini. On his first flying lap he dived down the inside of Seb Morris, in the Team Parker Bentley started by Parfitt, going into the Hislops chicane and tried to close the gap to the sister car of Keen.

Keen though, would already be out of sight with 20 minutes left in the race his lead passing the 30 second barrier without so much as a bead of sweat.

track-club claimed victory in the GT4 class Credit: Nick Smith/TheImageTeam.com

GT4 saw a good battle forming for the lead of the class as Matt Nicoll-Jones in the Academy Motorsport Aston Martin that lacked a bonnet after its first lap departure saw his mirrors filled with the McLaren 570S of Adam Balon and track-club. The battle would be slowly closing for a number of laps before the Academy car got pulled into the pits for being 18 seconds short on their pitstop, that would relegate them into a third place they would occupy until the end of the race.

That released Balon into the lead and the HHC Motorsport car of Stuart Middleton into a distant second. Balon wouldn’t enjoy a clean run for long though, as he was given a 1.5 second stop/go penalty for a short pitstop however, his 20 second lead allowed him to go in and out of the pits still in first position. The places stayed like that to the chequered flag, with HHC claiming their first podium on their first British GT race and track-club scoring a debut victory.

GT3 class would see the Barwell Lamborghinis untroubled at the front with Jonny Adam, who had dispatched Morris going into Hislops to claim third, three-and-a-half seconds behind. No one would be able to change those gaps in the final ten minutes of the race, allowing Barwell to claim a well-earned one-two.

Behind them the action was heating up as Matt Griffin, who had taken over the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 from Duncan Cameron, was setting fastest lap after fastest lap and picking off rivals like no-one’s business. Quickly getting onto the back of sixth placed man Callum Macleod – in the second Team Parker Bentley – the Irishman put the nose of his Ferrari up the inside of Macleod going up Deer Leap, claiming sixth by 0.063s.