Nicki Thiim and Mark Farmer picked up their second victory and third podium in as many races for TF Sport to jump into championship contention at Silverstone after recovering from a spin and overcoming a 10-second success penalty.
The Aston Martin was running second behind Ricardo Sanchez’s RJN Motorsport Nissan when Graham Davidson spun Farmer around at Maggotts during the opening stint, for which the Jetstream Motorsport driver was handed a stop/go penalty. That gave Sanchez a 16s lead before the first pitstops began after 60 minutes.
TF Sport’s decision to swap Derek Johnston with Marco Sørensen early helped the #17 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 jump ahead in the second hour, while Sanchez’s co-driver Struan Moore dropped back into the clutches of the chasing pack after his seat mechanism slipped backwards, moving his feet away from the pedals. The resulting early pitstop to rectify the issue effectively ended the pole-sitters’ hopes.
At the same time, Thiim was making progress back through the field and moved into third behind Sørensen and Phil Keen when Adam Christodoulou’s Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 retired with front suspension damage. A late pit stop then helped the Danish driver inherit a lead that Farmer would retain when the second round of driver changes took place.
However, the race was far from over thanks to the crew’s 10s success penalty for finishing third at Snetterton. Farmer pitted with precisely that advantage over Jon Minshaw, and when the Barwell Lamborghini Huracan GT3 followed TF Sport’s V12 Vantage in on the same lap, it became a battle between the mechanics and the stopwatch.
When asked about how it feels to win at Silverstone, Thiim said, “Yeah, for sure it’s always nice to win; it’s the biggest race on the calendar for British GT, so standing here with this amazing (RAC) trophy is great. It was a tough one, especially when the tyres got worn, it made it hard work. Mark did an excellent job, with the spin and the 10-second success penalty to win here on Aston’s home ground is fabulous.”.
Thiim then narrowly beat Keen off pit road and, with it, retained a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. Instead, Keen’s attention switched to keeping Jonny Adam at bay. The Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin, also driven by Flick Haigh, started sixth but enjoyed four clean stints on the way to its first podium since the Oulton Park season opener.
Fourth should have gone to last year’s winners Rick Parfitt Jnr and super-sub Seb Morris aboard Team Parker Racing’s Bentley as a result of Ryan Ratcliffe being taken ill with food poisoning. So late was the call that Morris didn’t arrive at Silverstone until five minutes before his first stint began, by which time Parfitt Jnr had twice charged through from the back of the GT3 field after starting last, a penalty for changing drivers during the event, and then spinning mid-stint. However, the pair’s efforts were frustrated by Morris’ yellow flag infringement which resulted in a post-race two-place penalty.
Moore and Sanchez were also left to lament what might have been, but still achieved RJN Motorsport and NISMO’s best result of the season with fifth on the road and fourth in the final classification after finishing just 0.4s ahead of Johnston and Sørensen, whose 20s success penalty for winning at Snetterton took them out of podium contention. Nevertheless, Sørenson’s pursuit of Moore over the final stint helped him to claim a new GT3 lap record (1m59.725s) and third-straight Sunoco Fastest Lap Award.
Barwell’s second Lamborghini driven by Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker finished seventh after a mid-race spin during a spirited battle with Thiim. Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell’s McLaren 650S GT3 was eighth, and Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Darren Turner ninth. ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman completed the points finishers in 10th position.