Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt took their Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 to a stunning victory in the second one-hour race at Oulton Park, their first in the British GT Championship. PMW World Expo Racing took the win once again in GT4, but it was luck in their favour that they even took the win.
Starting on pole, Morris went into Old Hall with a handy lead over Rob Bell in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S and by the time they crossed the line for the first time, there was already a noticeable gap between the pair.
Bell might not have been able to keep up with Morris, but he was building up a handy gap over Beechdean AMR’s Ross Gunn who set up camp in third and looked ready to stay there.
The GT4 start saw a few more changes that the top class with Scott Malvern powering the Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 from second to the lead with Mike Robinson relegated to second in the PMW Ginetta. Really on the move in the class was Abbie Eaton in the Ebor GT Maserati who leaped from eighth to fourth on the first lap. After the race she told TCF that she was pleased the brakes were working again after their race one failure otherwise it could have been an interesting start.
In GT3 Morris built up his lead lap-after-lap rapidly knocking up a gap of more than five seconds in as many laps as Bell failed to match the Crewe-built machine’s pace around the twisty Oulton Park circuit.
With the former GP3 driver blasting into the distance, the remarkably incident-free race (until the end, but more on that later) started to focus on GT4 and the battle for who would occupy the top four positions with Scott Malvern pulling away in his Ginetta leaving the squabble for second place with Generation AMR SuperRacing’s Matthew George fending off advances from Robinson and Abbie Eaton who was trying her best to get the big old Maserati past the PMW car.
However, everyone in GT4 would be gifted a position a few laps later as Scott Malvern’s charge started smoking from one of the lefthand-side wheels which required an early trip to the pits to see what the damage was.
Just over half an hour into the race and the pit stop sequence started cycling through, with Morris – who had a lead of more than 10 seconds at this point – handing the car over to Rick Parfitt a lap before Rob Bell gave up control of the McLaren to Alisdair McCaig.
He was followed in though by the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Andrew Howard taking over the #1 and returning onto the track in third place. It would not be a good race for the team though as they were slapped with a drive-through penalty (along with the GT4 car) for a pitlane infringement. That would mean they sacrificed the third place they occupied for so long during the race with Jon Minshaw gleefully grabbing the final space on the podium with 20 minutes to go.
Back at the sharp end and Rick Parfitt was holding on to a decent lead at the front, with the Bentley hardly breaking a sweat as the lead stuck in double figures over McCaig who himself was building a more than 10 second gap over Minshaw’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
In GT4 it seemed as though no one wanted to actually be in the lead. James Holder, who took over the first placed SuperRacing Aston Martin, was a touch too exuberant at Knickerbrook and beached the car in the gravel, handing the lead to Anna Walewska in the Century Motorsport Ginetta.
However, she was also not long for the lead of the race – with just five minutes of the race left she would hit the barriers at Lodge handing the lead of the race to a very grateful Graham Johnson.
That meant the Maserati was in second place with Abbie Eaton pleased with the set-up tweaks they’d done to the car after both qualifying and warm up paid off to such a great extent come the second race. Marcus Hoggarth, who was driving the second half of the race, was desperately unlucky not to take the win though as he was within touching distance during the final minutes.
However, he couldn’t make a move for the lead though as the race was red flagged with just a bit more than 4 minutes left on the clock because of the Century Motorsport Ginetta which couldn’t be safely recovered before the end of the race.
Aaron Mason will be pleased the race ended when it did though, he’s managed to claim his first podium for the RCIB Insurance Racing team on just his first weekend in rear-wheel drive machinery. He will pleased when it ended because Sandy Mitchell was breathing down his neck in the McLaren 570S and probably would have got past the former VW Cup champion with a few more laps.
In GT3, the early finish meant little to the podium finishers with Parfitt easily ahead of the Ecurie Ecosse McLaren who himself had a good gap over Minshaw. Just off the podium, and having a relative off weekend if you compare their previous efforts this season, was Derek Johnston in the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 who spent most of the last half of the race fighting off the attentions of Liam Griffin.
After the race Rick Parfitt was full of praise for Team Parker Racing and team mate Seb Morris. He told The Checkered Flag: “I’ve always said that Seb is absolutely world-class and no matter what anyone says that proves it. We’re a good team, we’re both quick in our respective classes but Seb has truly shown that he’s world class – it was nice that I did the same thing and maintained the gap.
“[Maintaining the gap] has got to be one of the most difficult things to do, to just go round and not actually be chasing anyone or a time is so nerve-wracking! I was literally managing my tyres, managing the time, and just bringing it home.”
Following the Northern excursion, the British GT field moves on to Silverstone for the showpiece Silverstone 500 which promises a huge raft of additional entries as the European GT4 Series rolls in and joins the GT4 grid.