Parfitt Jr and Morris Crowned British GT Champions at Donington Decider


Team Parker Racing and HHC Motorsport claimed the crowns in GT3 and GT4. (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Team Parker Racing‘s Rick Parfitt Jr and Seb Morris were crowned 2017 British GT champions in the #31 Bentley Continental at the Donington Park season finale, defeating title rivals Barwell Motorsport after a dramatic spin for Jon Minshaw on the opening lap.

2016 champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam charged to a second win of the season, capping an emphatic TF Sport one-two as Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes claimed second in an Aston Martin-dominated event.

GT4 saw Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton seal the drivers’ championship in the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55, following an early retirement for their title-rivals Lanan Racing.

Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson earned their first win of the campaign, coming out on top in the three-way scrap for the GT4 Pro/Am title.

At the start, Farmer powered into turn one with aggression, muscling the challenging Johnston wide – retaining the lead and allowing the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini to swoop into a crucial second.

A poor-starting Parfitt Jr was shoved wide by Liam Griffin‘s Lamborghini, who was hoping to act as a rear-gunner in what was a perfect start for Barwell.

A spin for In2Racing debutant Will Phillips was soon followed up by a pivotal twist in the championship race. The fast-starting Minshaw lost control through the esses, suffering a spin and plummeting down the GT3 order.

A wide-eyed Parfitt Jr avoided the melee and charged ahead as Team Parker Racing snatched the momentum in the title pursuit.

An early spin for Jon Minshaw dampened Barwell’s championship charge. (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

Following on from Tim Eakin‘s qualifying shunt on Saturday, a second UltraTek Racing Nissan found itself in the wars, with Richard Taffinder plowing into the barrier at McLeans.

Recovering from 9th, an incensed Minshaw soon sliced through the back of the field, dispatching Ian Loggie and Ben Tuck‘s Ginetta within a lap to claim 7th.

Looking to bridge as much of a gap to the recovering Lamborghini as possible, Parfitt Jr’s progress was hampered by the ultra-defensive Griffin – whose sole task was to frustrate and impede the #31 Bentley in hopes of reviving Barwell’s championship chances.

In GT4, Will Moore continued to protect his lead, opening up a seven-second cushion ahead of reigning GT4 champion Johnson, whilst Tregurtha comfortably defended fourth.

Moore’s chances of a race win were once again shattered however, along with Lanan Racing’s title hopes 20 minutes into the race.

Alex Reed clattered into the side of Moore’s Academy Motorsport Aston Martin, with the latter suffering a spin before continuing well down the field. A damaged Reed circulated briefly before skating into the gravel trap with damage, ending Lanan’s championship hopes and handing the GT4 crown to HHC Motorsport.

Back-to-back GT4 poles ended in consecutive retirements for Academy Motorsport. (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

A crash through Hollywood for Century Motorsport’s Tuck allowed an eagle-eyed Parfitt Jr to claim third, powering through into third down the Craner Curves after a hesitant Griffin was slow onto the power coming out of the yellow flag zone.

Line-a-stern, the two leading Aston Martins were within a second, as Johnston hounded Farmer, allowing a determined Parfitt Jr to close in on the leading duo.

A charging Minshaw continued to pull back the time lost in a spin, dispatching the #88 Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3 of Richard Neary, before easing past teammate Griffin who pulled aside to award Minshaw fifth.

Minshaw’s progress was hampered however by a tenacious Charlie Fagg, with the GT3 debutant holding on to an impressive fourth in the JRM Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO.

The sound of wheel-guns signified the hour mark and pit-stops, with leader Farmer peeling into the pit-lane, whilst Johnston stayed out in a bid to complete the over-cut.

A 10-second success penalty for claiming third at Brands Hatch proved pivotal in deciding the overall lead, as the two Aston Martins swapped positions. Adam emerged five seconds ahead of Barnes, with the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin taking full advantage of the #11 Aston’s penalty time.

With the Nissan pairing of Fagg and Ben Green¬†adjusting to experiencing their first GT3 pit-stop in race conditions, their slightly slower stop allowed Phil Keen‘s #33 Lamborghini to charge into third spot.

Adam eased away from rival Barnes, as the reigning GT3 champion looked to end a relatively disappointing campaign with a second victory of the season. Lights ablaze, the hard-charging Morris passed the non-points scoring Nissan, elevating to fourth and one spot behind title adversary Keen.

Despite Keen’s track advantage, the GT stalwart knew third wasn’t enough, giving chase and whittling the gap down to Barnes’ Aston Martin whilst Morris looked to protect fourth from Sam Tordoff‘s #6 Lamborghini.

All three GT4 Pro/AM championship battlers filled the podium positions in class, with Spa winner Joe Osborne muscling his Tolman Motorsport McLaren ahead of Adam Mackay‘s Track-Club McLaren to seal second spot.

Champion elect Middleton tentatively probed Mackay for the final podium spot, fully aware the drivers’ championship was already in the bag.

Tolman’s hopes of snatching the Pro/Am title ended in the gravel-trap however, with Osborne becoming beached after a high-speed spin at McLeans. Seconds later, new second-place man Mackay stuttered into the garage with electrical gremlins that have plagued Track-Club’s frustrating campaign.

Outgoing British GT champion Adam cruised home to clinch a second win of the year alongside partner Johnston, ending a magnificent year of racing success with a record-breaking 12th GT3 victory of his career.

Jonny Adam charged to a record-breaking 12th GT3 win. (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)

TF Sport completed an emphatic one-two through Barnes in an emphatic statement of intent heading into 2018, whilst a meagre third for Keen wasn’t enough to seal the championship for a crestfallen Barwell camp.

Morris rounded Goddards and motored across the line to crown Team Parker Racing as outright British GT champions. An ecstatic Parfitt Jr celebrated with a touching tribute to his late father – Rick Parfitt – pointing to the sky after becoming the first driver to be crowned both GT3 and GT4 champion.

Victory for the #501 Optimum Motorsport McLaren in GT4 – piloted by Johnson and Mike Robinson – ensured both 2016 class champions ended the season on a high, sealing the Pro/Am category title for the pairing in the process.

A relaxed second for HHC Motorsport saw Tregurtha and Middleton raising their arms aloft as GT4 champions – the youngest pairing to win a championship in British GT history, besting the previous record held by 2015 GT4 champions Ross Gunn and Jamie Chadwick.

 

Tregurtha and Middleton are the youngest champions in British GT history. (Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography)