A tense British GT race at Spa Francorchamps for the GT4 class initially swung in favour of Century Motorsport’s Dean Macdonald and Jack Mitchell during the pitstop window before the #43 BMW held off Tolman Motorsport’s long-time race-leading McLaren over the closing stages to claim victory.
The hectic race start saw Fox Motorsport’s Mark Murfitt suffer an early retirement after contact ahead, while up front, Michael O’Brien continued to lead under the Safety Car in the pole-sitting McLaren. He headed the fellow 570S of Finlay Hutchison, the BMW of Ben Tuck and Tolman Motorsport’s Lewis Proctor, who had dropped one place from his grid spot to fourth.
That order remained unchanged for most of the first hour despite the quartet all running within a few seconds of each other.
Further back in the class, Balfe Motorsport’s Graham Johnson was forced to retire with damage after a clash with the HHC Motorsport Ginetta of Callum Pointon for which the latter was subsequently handed a 60-second stop/go penalty, which dropped him and Patrik Matthiesen out of victory contention.
As the pit window opened, the race was about to take a sudden and dramatic twist. The leading cars all headed to the pitlane where a fire for Proctor’s McLaren led to his and co-driver Jordan Albert’s retirement.
Then, the deployment of the Safety Car changed the race’s dynamic once more when Century, Macdonald and Mitchell benefitted from its timing to emerge in an unlikely lead, while Fagg, now at the wheel of the formerly race-leading McLaren, was demoted to second.
“As we pitted the Safety Car came out and we knew things were playing into our hands. I got onto the back of the Safety Car and found we were a lap in front so we thought it was going to be easy from there, but then race control released the other cars and they were on the back of me”, said Mitchell.
“We knew the McLaren had more pace and I had Charlie on my tail for the rest of the race so I had to put the car in exactly the right place to stop him getting past. My race craft and defending has become better over the previous years so I knew where to put the car and I knew where we were stronger, so it’s a really good result. It’s two wins in a row for me and I’m really happy for Dean coming in and getting his first win.”
Daniel McKay, driving the #10 McLaren, emerged in third with Ben Tuck fourth in the second Century Motorsport BMW. As racing resumed, Scott Malvern began making moves and worked his way up to fifth for Team Parker Racing while Fagg put Mitchell under massive pressure at the front.
As time ticked down, Fagg, who would win the Sunoco Fastest Lap Award, tried everything he could to get past the BMW, but Mitchell stood firm to take a win, which would have seemed unlikely in the early stages, by just 0.387s. The podium was completed by Equipe Verschuur’s Hutchison and McKay.
Tuck brought his car home fourth, Pro Am winners Malvern and Nick Jones were fifth in their Team Parker Mercedes-AMG, and sixth went to Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones. Matthiesen and Pointon recorded a seventh-place finish in the HHC Motorsport Ginetta ahead of ProTechnika’s Anna Walewska and Tom Canning.
The Aston Martin of Tom Wood and Jan Jonck finished ninth, and the top-10 was completed by Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman in the UltraTek Racing Team RJN Nissan.
While the McLaren of David Pattison and Joe Osborne didn’t finish the race, Tolman Motorsport was still very worthy PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award winners after an incredible overnight rebuild job saw their McLaren ready to race on Sunday morning following a qualifying accident.