Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell may have won the final round of the 2019 British GT championship, but the spotlight was on Jonny Adam and Graham Davidson as they secured the 2019 GT3 championship.
In GT4, Tom Canning and Ashley Hand – who went into the finale leading the GT4 points table – crossed the line third in class behind winners Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding in the #19 Stellar Performance. But it was enough for the Aston Martin team to take the crown.
It all fell apart for GT3 championship leaders Phil Keen and Adam Balon as early damage collected by Balon saw the #72 Lamborghini drop from second to the back of the GT3 grid. Later in the race, Keen would get behind the wheel and start on his charge, but it wasn’t meant to be for the Lamborghini driver as the earlier damage reoccured and saw him careering off the track at Craner Curves and back into the pits for repairs. Keen made it back out on track, but was around five laps off the leaders.
Starting from pole, there seemed to never be anything that could stop the McLaren from taking its maiden victory. Within the first half an hour it had disappeared 21 seconds down the road and the gap was rising. The safety car period drew them closer to the chasing field, but there was nothing anyone could do to stop the team taking McLaren’s first GT3 victory in British GT since 2003.
Davidson did a great job in the #47 TF Sport during his stint, keeping the car out of any drama and retaining a strong fifth place in the field. Even after the success penalty of 20 seconds in the pits – for winning at Brands Hatch – Davidson had done enough to put Adam in a strong position to take the championship and jump the #69 Barwell Motorsport for fourth.
The fight between fourth, fifth and sixth was the one to watch in the final moments of the race. Not only was it the tightest battle on track, but it was the one to determine the championship. Adam was leading the battle, but the two chasing Lamborghinis, #69 in the hands of Jonny Cocker and Dennis Lind in the #18 WPI Motorsport, were hot on his tail.
In a tussle for position, Lind made contact with the rear of Adam’s Aston Martin, causing the Brit to lose traction and speed on track. He managed to hold the car, but the loss of momentum left him a sitting duck for Cocker and Lind to breeze past him on the run out of Old Hairpin. Sixth was not enough for Adam and Davidson to hold the championship, and – with nothing changing before the chequered flag – they lost the title to the #69 Barwell Motorsport by half a point.
That wasn’t the end, however, as the incident instantly went under investigation. It was a nail-biting three hours for all teams concerned, with Barwell and TF Sport still unsure of who had taken the drivers championship and it all hanging on the decision about Lind’s move in the WPI.
The stewards determined that Lind was to be given a five second penalty. Adam had crossed the line 4.9 seconds behind Lind, meaning that Adam and Davidson were crowned driver’s champions by a tenth of a second.
Although TF Sport snatched the Driver’s title from Barwell, Barwell still took the Team’s Championship.
Williams and Fielding took their Audi from pole to the race win, holding off pressure from the #97 GT4 champions in the middle of the race to hold onto the lead for the majority of the two-hour event. Six cars entered the race able to take the GT4 championship, so it was one to keep a close eye on the front battle.
Canning and Hand were on the charge, starting from second on the grid. It was Canning who took the opening stint in the Aston Martin Vantage, and drove a stellar stint behind the leading Audi. With ten minutes to go until the pit window opened, Canning made the move for the lead, passing the Audi that he had been lining up for the last few laps.
However, the success penalty of ten seconds that the #97 team had to serve saw the position reversed after the pit stops and driver changes. Hand would not repass Fielding.
That seemed to have settled the championship and the race, but Sebastian Priaulx came alight during his stint in the #15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford and started carving his way through the field. He passed Fielding for second and started chasing down the leading Audi. Fielding could afford to finish P4 and take the championship, but if Priaulx got into first the Ford team would steal the prize.
As hard as Priaulx tried, he just couldn’t catch the Audi before the chequered flag fell. They were spilt by 1.5 seconds at the end of the race, but to underline the pace Priaulx had in the last hour he had put 15 seconds on third-placed Fielding.
TF Sport took the double in GT4, also claiming the Team’s Championship alongside Canning and Hand’s Driver’s one. The duo also won the Silver Cup, with Hand rounding off the day in style with a new British GT GT4 lap record at Donington: a 1:35.886, that also secured him the Sunoco Fastest Lap Award. This means that Hand will take part in the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona as part of his prize for winning the award.