RAM Racing‘s Callum MacLeod and Ian Loggie are celebrating their second win in the British GT Championship after taking victory in the Silverstone 500 this afternoon. The pair gave the Silverstone based team their first ever victory in the championship just meters from the factory after a thrilling three hour encounter with drama until the dying minutes.
The popular victory in GT3 was mirrored in GT4 where Scott Malvern and Nick Jones broke their GT4 duck, finally taking the overall class victory which has eluded the duo for six years. Team Parker Racing‘s GT4 effort drove a faultless race, against no lesser competition than the test and development driver for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 they share, to claim the win by over 15 seconds.
GT3: Adam’s Despair Gives RAM Racing Home Victory.
The headlines were already being written in the media center, ‘Jonny Adam Holds Out for RAC Trophy Win’, as success seconds in the pit stops took the Aston Martin Racing driver’s main competition out of contention for the win and allowed TF Sport to dream of victory. It wasn’t to be though as Callum MacLeod pitted last of the GT3 cars in the final hour of the race and shot off in dogged pursuit of the #47 AMR V8 Vantage GT3 ahead.
The RAM Racing man’s job was made easier by a hammer and tongs battle between the #31 Bentley Continental GT3 of Seb Morris, shared with Rick Parfitt Jr and the Nicki Thiim driven #2 TF Sport Vantage shared with Mark Farmer. With a lack of pressure from behind, MacLeod was quickly on terms with Jonny Adam. He began piling on the pressure, trying to force an error from the #47 car. Adam placed the car perfectly, obviously defensive but giving the big Mercedes-AMG GT3 nowhere to go in order to get past.
That was until just three laps from the end of the race, when separated by less than 0.200 seconds, Adam came upon a lone GT4 car. The #19 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 was in glorious isolation, ten seconds down on 26th place but with a good margin over 28th, Chad McCumbee was oblivious to the rapidly approaching GT3 leaders behind him.
‘I’m absolutely gutted,’ Adam told us after the race. ‘The car was going well at the end and Callum was on low fuel and new tyres. I thought I had him covered in places but I got a car in the wrong place and it looked like he never even saw us coming up behind. I am gutted for Graham [Davidson] as well. I though we were on for a win and good points for the championship, I couldn’t have done anymore. It was in the heat of battle, I’m not the kind of driver who just dives in on people, I thought there was a gap there.
‘I got inside him and our mirrors caught a bit but then he moved away and then I felt a big contact, I thought Callum must have got up inside of him. We’ve put a lot into this weekend. Graham has driven really well and the team put a lot of effort into the car, I wanted that trophy.’
Disqualification and Delight for Final Podium Spots.
All the while this fight was going on, Nicki Thiim was trying to force his way through on Seb Morris. Around the same time as the contact, Morris was also slowed by a GT4 back marker, round the other side of the circuit, and Thiim completed the move. He secured third which almost instantly became second as his team mate turned off the car and got out, his rear axle broken and his dreams shattered.
It left MacLeod to take the chequered flag uncontested, but the Gloucestershire man didn’t let up, taking the line with just three seconds left on the clock to head out on lap 84, the final tour of the race.
‘This one feels amazing,’ a clearly emotional MacLeod said, ‘it means a lot to me. Silverstone and BRDC are very close to my heart and my dad passed away at the end of last year, so this one is for him.
‘Jonny [Adam] isn’t likely to make a mistake so I put him under a lot of pressure. Showing him my nose, all the usual things, but he is a world class driver so the only real chance was the GT4s. I think that pressure combined with unfortunate timing with the traffic put him in a desperate, well not desperate but a hurry, to get past the Mustang on the inside and they made a bit of contact. It presented an opportunity for me so it worked out well.’
Thiim and Morris continued to spar for the final three minutes of the race but the Bentley couldn’t find a way past the Aston Martin. The pair crossed the line 0.685 seconds apart but the drama wouldn’t end there. The #31 Bentley Continental GT3 failed post race scrutineering. Morris and Parfit got their moment on the podium, but were forced to hand back the trophies as their car was disqualified from the result and joined the lengthy list of cars discounted from the result.
The #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO of Michael Igoe and Dennis Lind inherited the final podium spot.
Of course the erstwhile podium finishers topped the list thanks to the DSQ, a blow which now leaves the crew 52 points off the championship lead in 6th. They were far from alone though, both Century Motorsport BMW M6 GT3’s went into retirement before the halfway mark, in fact the #9 of Jack Mitchell and JM Littman didn’t even make it to the start, breaking on the formation lap and trundling into the pits just as the race leaders completed lap 1. Likewise the #3 machine retired, this time after 34 laps, though we don’t actually know the reason for either retirement.
Adam Christodoulou was looking set for a strong finish in his Mercedes-AMG GT3, despite several spins due to contact for his co-driver Richard Neary. That was until lap 38 when the team detected a loss of gearbox oil pressure. The car came into the pits and out of the race. The final GT3 non-classifier was the #33 G-Cat Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R. Having finally got their car, the team were hopeful of a strong debut but the car had other ideas. Both Greg Caton and Shamus Jennings got a chance to compete with the car but it never got up to speed, retiring after 18 laps and never getting a lap faster than a 2:07.
GT4: Malvern and Jones Celebrate Overall Victory.
In GT4 there was a similar level of attrition but one car which didn’t suffer the problems at all was the #66 Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. After bitter disappointment at Oulton Park and shocking Deja Vous in Norfolk, the pairing of Scott Malvern and Nick Jones finally came good at Silverstone. The pair drove an exemplary race, not putting a foot wrong to manage the gap, pick their way through traffic, and achieve a 15.371 second victory over the nearest rivals in class.
That’s even more impressive when you consider for Malvern’s final stint he was up against Maximillian Buhk, Former FIA GT3 European Champion and Mercedes development driver.
Scott Malvern looked almost as relieved it had arrived as he was pleased to take the win. He told us, ‘Its about bloody time! Its something I’ve been wanting for a long, long time. Nick and I have been working together for six years now and for him to be able to race on terms with the Silver pairings, he was running in the front group in the first stint. I just had to put in the consistent laps just to maintain it for him.
‘We really wanted it, we were so heartbroken after the last one and at Oulton Park. To loose out with three minutes to go at Oulton and with a minute to go at Snetterton, we really wanted this one. And its the big one too, with the double points and all the exposure.
‘For me, sat in the car, the first stint felt like the most important one. Maxi was behind me in that stint too and I just had to build the best gap I could. I knew [Peter] Belshaw would be strong in the second stint. We had a bit of an ace up our sleeves though in the last stint, low fuel and new tyres. I knew they had stopped short earlier on so Buhk’s last stop would have to be early and he would do a long stint. I just got straight on the consistency and I had to maintain the gap. I needed to have some tyres left in case of a safety car, so I would have something left to defend with.’
Buhk shared his ERC Sport run GT4 car with Peter Belshaw who had an equally untroubled run to second but third was a similar story to GT3. Intially taken by the Multimatic Mustang of Seb Priaulx and Scott Maxwell, the Ford factory duo were given a 30 second time penalty post race in lieu of a drive-through for a pit stop infringement. That promoted Beechdean AMR drivers Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher to the overall podium in class.
Tolman Self Destruct While TF Sport Slip Up
No report on the GT4 race would be complete without sparing a thought for Tolman Motorsport. The team which arrived at Silverstone with a 2-3 in the GT4 championship battle left the first points and a half race empty handed. The #4 McLaren 570S GT4 was first into the pit lane with a mystery mechanical woe. Shortly after the final pit stops, a water pump leak also sidelined their second car, the #5. Both had led the class in their time.
Also the #95 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 of TF Sport should be mentioned. The team played a blinder to keep both the #47 and the #2 in winning contention until the crash which took Adam out. In GT4 however Tom Ferrier’s organisation dropped the ball not once but three times. Yes, on three separate occasions the #95 was called on to pit road to serve a stop and go penalty, a punishment made even worse on penalty number three when Josh Price missed the penalty box and had to go around, effectively adding a drive through to the stop and goes already issued.
TF Sport can console themselves with 4th place in GT4 for the #97 machine of Ashley Hand and Tom Canning. Its little consolation though as the car which should have been fighting with Team Parker Racing for the win classified 12th in class after its tribulations through the race.
The only other problem child in GT4 was the #32 Track Focused KTM, which never really rose to attention all weekend. It didn’t during the race either when it dropped out quietly without notice two and quarter hours in.
You can read the race as it happened in our live blog which is now archived and available here. Alternatively, you can watch the full race replay on SRO’s GT World Youtube channel early in the next week.