Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell became the fifth different victors from five races with victory at the Intelligent Money British GT series round at Brands Hatch.
The victory, which is Collard’s first win on his debut season in British GT, saw the #78 Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Silver crew survive a late safety car to hold onto victory and also grab the championship lead.
The Barwell had been knocking on the door of a victory throughout the season and ultimately came out on the top in a duel with the polesitting #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren of James Baldwin/Michael O’Brien who, the two cars occupying the top two places throughout the race.
Baldwin was untouchable in the first hour as the world’s fastest gamer displayed an unheard level of dominance in the competitive British GT field, by the half hour mark he had built a 20 second margin between himself and Collard.
The two 2Seas Motorsport McLarens of Angus Fender and Jordan Witt both got a good start and moved up the field in unison but their charge was halted by the #8 RAM Racing Mercedes Pro/Am entry of Ian Loggie in third.
Loggie fended off Fender’s attacking attempts with impressive defensive driving using the extra torque of the Mercedes to good advantage.
The two McLarens switched places to allow Witt to try and attack and eventually after 20 minutes Witt lunged down the inside of Stirling, forced the Mercedes wide and the two McLarens were through, but by then they were 26 seconds off the lead.
Baldwin’s massive advantage was reduced to nothing when the safety car was called out at the hour mark when Witt made contact while lapping Nick Jones #66 Team Parker Racing Bentley which saw the Bentley beached in the Hawthorns gravel trap.
As the safety car coincided with the GT3 pit window almost the entire GT3 field pitted.
Baldwin handed over to Michael O’Brien but he was held up in the pits by an emergency vehicle making its way through the pitlane in the midst of the stopping cars.
This allowed the newly installed Sandy Mitchell to leapfrog the McLaren and build up a 2 second lead over O’Brien.
He maintained this until the safety car was called out again when #58 GT4 McLaren of Jordan Collard suffered a left rear tyre explosion which dumped tyre debris all over the straight leading to Hawthorns.
This eliminated Mitchell’s small margin and also allowed the Pro/Am entries to move onto the back of the top three silver crews with Yelmer Buurman in the #6 Mercedes looking particularly threatening.
With 22 minutes to go the safety car pulled in and Mitchell managed to keep O’Brien at arms length and despite a few nervy moments while lapping the GT4 field, he held onto win by 0.649 seconds.
Dean MacDonald, who had taken over the #9 2Seas Motorsport McLaren from Fender, managed to hold off the attentions of Buurman and finish third.
Last year’s British GT champion Jonny Adam in the #7 Beechdean Aston Martin had a rather anonymous race after the searing place he’d show in practice and qualifying.
Co-driver Andrew Howard had started fourth but was muscled and bullied back down to 12th in the first few laps and went a lap down at the hour mark, a position where Adam was unable to make much impression during his stint, only making up one place to finish 10th.
Championship leaders going into the event the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Phil Keen and Adam Balon were off the pace all weekend and finished a lapped 12th.
In GT4 the #61 Academy Motorsports Ford Mustang of Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert took a well deserved victory while all of their closest rivals engaged in BTCC standards of driving.
The team has had a tough year so far and lacked pace to compete in practice and qualifying but everything came to together on race day as the dominant cars of all weekend, the two TF Sport Aston Martins came to blows.
Polesitter and birthday boy Connor O’Brien in the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin got the jump of the rest of the field and quickly pulled away from his TF Sport team-mate Daniel Vaughan in the #97 car in the early stages, with the #23 Speedworks Toyota Supra of Sam Smelt glued it the Aston’s bumber.
Smelt eventually found his way past Vaughan, who then came under pressure from Albert, but he was unable to make much impression on O’Brien.
O’Brien lost the lead as he was spun by the #8 GT3 Abba Racing Mercedes of Richard Neary at the exit of druids which pushed him down to fourth.
When the safety car came out both of the TF Sport Aston Martins instantly pitted along with Albert, but Smelt stayed out another lap.
It proved to be a costly mistake by the Speedworks team as the newly installed James Kell left the pitlane in fourth behind both of the Astons and the Mustang.
Kell soon lost that fourth place to Ben Green in the #42 Century Racing BMW M4 and then ran off track when being lapped by Michael O’Brien’s GT3 McLaren and dropped to sixth.
Jamie Caroline in the #97 Aston lead the GT4 field when the safety car came in with Cowley in the #61 right behind but on the run to Hawthorns Cowley used the Mustang’s power to blast past a surprised Caroline and grab into a lead who would never lose, despite Caroline’s pressuring to get back past.
On the second restart Green managed to get the jump of Patrick Kibble in the #95 Aston and now became a part of the lead battle which became very argy-bargy.
With two laps to go Green was sandwiched in-between both of the TF Astons on the exit of Clearways but made contact with both of them, being tapped by Kibble and elbowed past Caroline.
The loss of momentum from the contact saw Green blast past Caroline but the BMW left the inside line undefended at Paddock Hill bend and Caroline took full advantage to retake second with Kibble following his team-mate through despite swerving into Green on his way through.
The next lap around Kibble managed to get the run on his team-mate going into Paddock Hill but Caroline, in a desperate attempt to regain his position, tried a repeat of his move on Green but made contact with Kibble and spun the Aston into the gravel.
All this allowed Cowley to escape and secure the Mustang’s and Academy Motorsport’s first GT4 victory of the year while Green finished third and secured Century Motorsport’s best finish of the year.
Caroline kept his second place and extends his championship lead in the progress.
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