British GT

Keen and Balon Become First Double 2020 British GT Winners

5 Mins read
Credit: David Lord Photography

Phil Keen and Adam Balon became the first repeat winners of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT championship with a dominant performance in the second race at Snetterton.

The victory, the team’s first since the second race at Outlon Park, was built upon an impressive opening stint which allowed Balon to manage a half minute lead back to the flag to bring the #72 Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini back into championship contention.

The race begin with light rain falling on a very greasy cold track but thankfully the forecasted rain did not fall in the second stint.

The race started with both Barwell Lamborghini locking out the front row and all of the pros starting starting on a rolling start and Keen charged around the outside of team-mate Sandy Mitchell at the first corner and sprinted away to hold a 1.4 second lead at the end of the first lap.

Gold rated driver Keen in the leading Pro/Am entry knew had would have to build a big margin to allow his Bronze rated co-driver Balon to hold off against his Silver crewed team-mates of Rob Collard during the second stint.

By the second lap, Keen had doubled the 1.4 second margin to 2.8 seconds, rapidly pulling away, eventually building a nine second lead by the end of his stint.

While Mitchell was unable to match his team-mate’s pace, he was able to build a big gap between his presurers, helped by the fact that third place Yelmer Buurman in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes spent his stint holding off Andrea Caldarelli in the #18 WPI Lambo and as a result he dropped 11 seconds behind the top two.

Race one winner Jack Mitchell in the #10 2Seas Motorsport McLaren had made a great start which briefly vaulted himself up to fifth place past championship leader Patrick Kujala in the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes.

Yet Kujala soon got his way back past as the McLarens proved to be less suited to the greasy track conditions then the full wet track of race one and Mitchell and team-mate Jordan Witt eventually finished in eighth place after a spin.

Sandy Mitchell was the first of the leaders to pit ahead of the other GT3 front runners, yet the #78 Barwell car lost 20 seconds in the pitstop due to an issue with the seat belts in the driver change and it saw Collard rejoin in fifth place.

Keen pitted the next lap and thanks to their team-mate delays, Balon left the pit lane with a half a minute lead from fellow Pro/Am entry #6 Mercedes now crewed by Ian Loggie.

The experienced Loggie began to take two seconds a lap out of out of Balon’s lead but with 25 minutes of the race remaining their remained the question of whether he had the time to make up the gap.

Loggie’s cause was not helped by coming under attack from the third place Michael Igoe in the #18 Lamborghini and the pressure eventually told.

While trying to defend from Igoe at Williams, Loggie went slightly wide and ran off the track and dropped back to fourth, allowing team-mate Sam de Haan to go through for third place.

Igoe was now second and proceeded to take two seconds a lap out of Balon, but the task of making up 11 seconds with five minutes to go proved an impossible task and Balon took victory by 6.9 seconds.

Loggie now found himself defending from the recovering Collard, who needed to get pass in order to keep in touch with de Haan in the fight for the title.

Yet despite some lunges and a small mistake by Loggie on the final lap, the Scotsman held on to fourth place.

de Haan/Kujala’s third place allowed them to increase their championship lead over Mitchell/Collard to just six points going into the final round at the Silverstone 300 in November.

But Keen/Balon second win of the year now means they are only just five points behind their team-mates and are hoping that their customery final round bad luck does not strike against.

Also in contention, but only just, are the pole position kings the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren of James Baldwin/Michael O’Brien but they are now 30 points behind the leader and will require divine intervention in order to succeed.

In GT4, a memerising performance from Jordan Collard saw the #58 HHC Motorsports McLaren charge to victory and within 2.5 points of the the championship lead.

Jordan Collard put in a mesmerising performance to take victory at the second race at Snetterton and bring himself with 2.5 points of the championship lead. Credit: Richard Styles Photography.

Collard emerged from his pitstop in fourth place and several seconds behind the two TF Sport Aston Martins, but Collard, who has been the fastest GT4 driver throughout the weekend soon overhauled both and took a well deserved victory which puts right in title contention.

Race one winner the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jamie Caroline had snatched the lead from polesitter Matt Cowley‘s #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang at the start and had quickly pulled away to building a 9 second lead from team-mate Patrick Kibble in the #95 Aston.

But both Caroline and Kibble would have to serve success penalties in their pitstops due to their good results in the morning race which saw Mia Flewitt in the Pro-Am entry #21 Balfe Motorsport McLaren emerge in the lead.

However, Flewitt, the only bronze rated driver in the GT4 category, did not have the pace to compete with her silver rated rivals and dropped back to fourth in class.

Collard’s co-driver Patrik Matthiesen had been best of the non Astons in third although a seven second success penalty for their second place in race one, meant Collard was eight seconds behind the Astons when they emerged from the pits.

But in the greasy conditions, Collard was in inspired form taking up to three seconds a lap out of the cars ahead of him as he quickly despatched Flewitt before sailing around the outside of Connor O’Brien‘s #95 Aston at the first corner.

Within a lap he was right on the tail of race leader Daniel Vaughan‘s #97 Aston and used the superior straight line speed of the McLaren to sail into the lead across the start finish line and sprinted away to build a lead of 9.6 seconds by the checkered flag.

Vaughan brought the #97 car home in second place which allowed him to keep his championship lead, but much reduced over Collard/Matthiesen then it had been at the end of race one.

Cowley and new co-driver Will Moore struggled in the greasy conditions and fell to sixth in class after Cowley ran wide off the track and spun round at Oggies, severely denting their title hopes which had looked so promising coming into the weekend.

One of the main championship contenders the #57 HHC Motorsports McLaren of Chris Wesemael/Gus Bowers was eliminated on the first lap after making contact with the delayed #66 Team Parker Racing Bentley of Scott Malvern.

They eventually rejoined but there were three laps down on the class leader in ninth place effectively eliminating themselves from title contention.

The final round of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT series will be the Silverstone 300 Endurance race at November 7-8.

Follow the Checkered Flag for the full coverage of what promises to be an exciting finale to an unpredictable and enthralling season.

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