Brands Hatch plays host to the penultimate round of the 2018 British GT Championship this weekend, and there’s an outside chance that the GT3 drivers’ titles could be decided over the course of Sunday’s two-hour race around the daunting GP circuit.
Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 wasn’t the fastest package at Spa, but the pair extended their championship lead by maintaining a metronomic run of results that began on the season’s opening weekend. Putting themselves in prime position for Donington’s potential decider is now the minimum requirement on a weekend when finishing first or second could be enough for them to clinch a first GT3 title.
However, Minshaw and Keen will also be mindful of this time last year when they let a similar lead slip at Brands Hatch, which ultimately cost them the championship.
The Barwell squad were helped by Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim’s lap one retirement at Spa, which has seen the TF Sport Aston Martin drop from second to third in the standings behind the similar Optimum Motorsport-run V12 Vantage shared by Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam. They head to Brands with confidence restored following a first pole position since Oulton Park and a second-straight podium finish.
Nevertheless, they are also the only crew in the current top-five, a group separated by 28 points, who must serve a pitstop success penalty this weekend. And that could prove crucial to the outcome of this year’s championship. Indeed, victory would be enough for Minshaw/Keen to clinch the title if Haigh/Adam finish sixth and Farmer/Thiim are fifth at Brands Hatch.
It’s a similar story for ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman who are now just 0.5 points behind TF Sport’s #11 crew after scoring their best result since winning Rockingham’s action-packed race in late April. Derek Johnston and Marco Sørensen, who complete the top-five, must now realistically beat Barwell’s championship leaders this weekend if they’re to also feature in Donington’s decider.
Misdemeanours earlier in the season have prevented Jetstream Motorsport’s Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin from mounting a concerted title push in their debut season. But the duo finally delivered on their promise at Spa where they took a first British GT victory together. And although the subsequent 20s pitstop success penalty to be served at Brands Hatch will likely end their mathematical title chances this weekend, it’s reasonable to expect the #47 Aston Martin to be near the sharp end during qualifying and the race’s opening stint.
Behind them come three crews with plenty of late-season motivation following contrasting fortunes at Spa. Andrew Howard and Darren Turner’s Beechdean AMR Aston Martin has scored just 21 points in the last four races following its phenomenally consistent start to the year, while Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod were again left ruing what might have been after early contact compromised their Team Parker Bentley’s race in Belgium. But there was better news for the squad’s #1 Continental GT3 which finished second thanks to a vintage Rick Parfitt Jnr performance and impressive final stint from Ryan Ratcliffe.
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
- 20 seconds – #47 Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – Davidson/Martin
- 15 seconds – #1 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 – Parfitt Jnr/Ratcliffe
- 10 seconds – #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – Haigh/Adam
BRANDS HATCH TIMETABLE
Saturday 4 August
09:30 – 10:30: Free Practice 1
11:40 – 12:40: Free Practice 2
16:00 – 16:10: Qualifying – GT3 Am
16:14 – 16:24: Qualifying – GT3 Pro
16:28 – 16:38: Qualifying – GT4 Am
16:43 – 16:53: Qualifying – GT4 Pro
Sunday 5 August
09:05 – 09:45: Pitwalk and driver autograph session
10:00 – 10:10: Warm-up
13:40 – 15:40: Race