Barwell Motorsport did it again at Snetterton as Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw linked up perfectly to take their second British GT Championship win of the day and solidify their championship lead.
The start of the race saw Keen begin a mega battle with TF Sport’s Jonny Adam whose Aston Martin Vantage GT3 started on pole. The pair went near enough side-by-side into Riches but thankfully managed to survive unscathed.
One of a few people to gain a position on the opening lap was Joe Osborne who moved up a place to fourth and set about hassling Alexander Sims who was occupying third place in the second Barwell Lamborghini.
Also moving up was Mike Simpson in the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3 which moved up to sixth and was soon joined in seventh by teammate Luke Davenport.
However, the first 20 minutes of the race wasn’t about cars moving up it was about them retiring as the PFL Motorsport Aston, Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren GT3 and the Stratton Motorsport Lotus of Martin Plowman all hit issues. The issues for the Lotus were a bit more crucial than others as Plowman began to be smoked out as the underside of the car set on fire, thankfully he pitted the car with no long-lasting damage.
In GT4, Ross Gunn led away from pole position in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage and continued to lead as the race got well into the swing of things but Matty George in the Generation AMR SuperRacing Aston wasn’t going to make things easy for him and for huge chunks of the race the lead was less than one second.
George’s teammate though wasn’t quite so lucky as Matthew Graham, in the MacMillan Racing Generation AMR machine, had engine issues on the run down to Agostini and proceeded to dump oil down on the track leading him into retirement.
By that point the pit stops were upon the field and the leaders, who remained Phil Keen and Jonny Adam, entered the pits nose-to-tail as well. However, a nightmare stop for TF Sport saw them lose time in the pits and come out behind Lee Mowle – who had taken over the AmDTuning.com BMW from Joe Osborne – because of a seatbelt issue when Derek Johnston was getting into the car.
That said, the issue seemed to fire up Johnston, whose lead in the points was snatched away after race one by the Barwell crew and didn’t want to lose more points going into the final round at Donington Park. To ensure he gained as many points as possible, Johnston set about putting himself right under the rear-wing of Mowle’s BMW and when the chance finally came – towards the end of the race – he took it with open arms.
Elsewhere, it’s worth noting that not everything was sunny for Barwell at Snetterton as Liam Griffin pitted the #6 with wishbone damage and had to retire from what was fourth place after the pit stops.
On the move though, was Paul Hollywood in the #408 Beechdean car, while the #407 – now driven by Jack Bartholomew – was in the lead of GT4, Hollywood was making progress of his own as he drove up to fifth place and set about making the position his own even with the pressure from Marcus Hoggarth’s Maserati.
As the chequered flag fell, Minshaw held a five second lead over Johnston, who himself had a two second lead over Mowle. GT4 saw Bartholomew finish just ahead of Graham Johnson who went on a late charge to gain points for his own title bid in the PMW World Expo Racing Ginetta with the second Ginetta of Lanan Racing finishing third.
That all means the final race of the year at Donington Park on September 10/11 is crucial for both championships as Jack Bartholomew took Aston Martin’s first GT4 victory at Snetterton to close to within 2.5 points of Johnson and Robinson who could have actually won the title this weekend had results gone their way but now must battle like they’ve never battled before to make sure they get their hands on the trophy.
Battling’s also what needs to be done for Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston, who’ve seen their points lead in the TF Sport car that they’ve held since the opening round at Brands Hatch transform into a 11.5 point deficit to the Barwell Lamborghini of Keen and Minshaw who took a first double British GT victory on a weekend for the first time since 2010.