RAM Racing climbed to joint-top of the standings after a second-place finish in the third round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, having started from pole position at Donington Park.
The #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo was on the pace from the offset in Leicestershire, finishing FP1 and FP2 second and fourth respectively, giving Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie plenty of confidence going into qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
That confidence wasn’t unfounded, either, as the Pro-Am pair prevailed in the combined qualifying session by half a tenth from the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Phil Keen and Michael Igoe.
Their nearest challenger wouldn’t even see the second corner of the two-hour race, though, as it was spun by the Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Nick Jones at Redgate, before being collected by Leo Machitski‘s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, putting both out of the race.
Though the Mercedes sat sixth in the warm-up session on Sunday morning, it had pace when it mattered, surviving a chaotic opening stint truncated by several safety car periods as over half of the GT4 entrants retired with damage or mechanical issues.
As the team’s Am driver, Loggie started the race and held the lead during the first safety car period.
Richard Neary started the #8 Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 from tenth place after an exploded brake disc in FP2 ruled the car out of qualifying, but he shot the gap between cars trying to avoid the stricken WPI Lamborghini and found himself second as the first safety car was scrambled.
Neary danced around the newer Mercedes to take the lead on the second restart, with Loggie defending robustly to keep Stewart Proctor in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 behind through Craner Curves.
As the first stint wore on, Loggie was able to eat back into the gap Neary had created, but his hard work was somewhat undone by the 10-second success penalty the team brought from Silverstone.
Martin Kodric and Hunter Abbott won at Silverstone for 2 Seas Motorsport, with TF Sport‘s Giacomo Petrobelli and Charlie Eastwood fourth, but as both were race-by-race entries and ineligible for Championship points, RAM’s #6 Mercedes was elevated to third and inherited the smallest success penalty.
That was enough to give Dutchman Yelmer Buurman a harder task heading into the somewhat calmer second stint, but he delivered an equally-composed drive to hold onto second while new joint-championship leader Jonny Adam (Beechdean AMR), Marcus Clutton (Enduro Motorsport) and Sandy Mitchell (Barwell Motorsport) squabbled over third, eight seconds behind.
A dust cover could have been thrown over the trio of Pro drivers, with Adam holding on for a podium which takes him and Andrew Howard to the top of the Drivers’ standings, level with RAM’s full-season pairing.
The Teams’ Championship is a different matter, with Barwell holding a 20.5-point gap as they enter two cars in each round, whereas Sam de Haan/James Cottingham‘s #69 car is a race-by-race entry and is ineligible for points.
RAM sit second, 15 points ahead of Beechdean and 30 ahead of Donington victors Team Abba Racing; the father/son pairing of Richard and Sam Neary took the team’s first British GT win after several years of trying.
Ian Loggie said:
After surviving a chaotic opening stint, Loggie was pleased with the result.
“I’m very happy with the result and I think under the circumstances, second was the best we could have achieved.
“The Abba car was fast on its new tyres and once Richard [Neary] got past me there was little point in fighting him, as the penalty in the pit-stops would have made it near impossible to beat them without [them having] a problem,” he said.
“My job was just to stick as close to the leader as I could, and find that gap back to third to hand across to Yelmer.
“We’re here to win the championship, and consistency does that. I’m already looking forward to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in two weeks.”
Buurman might have stepped into a more stable race than the one Loggie started, but it seems he enjoyed it no less, and was positive about where the result leaves RAM as the Championship heads to Belgium.
“I really enjoyed this weekend,” he said.
“To come here with a success penalty hanging over us and still score P2 is superb and it shows what a great job Ian and the team have done here.
“Scoring pole was a great start but Ian really did most of the hard work during his stint, pulling such a good gap back to third place.
“That really made my life a lot easier. I think we’ve done a great job for the Championship this weekend.”
Team Principal Dan Shufflebottom was equally pleased with RAM’s best result of the season to date.
“I feel that was the minimum Ian and Yelmer deserved from such a strong weekend,” he said.
“Ian has driven superbly throughout, and it would have been very easy to get frustrated or lose focus with so many safety cars during his stint.
“He did excellently to close the gap back down to the leader, and the fact he managed to pull such a gap on the chasing Bentley really was key to the result.
“Yelmer’s a safe pair of hands in a Mercedes, and there was never a doubt in my mind that he would bring it home for us.
“Second place with a success penalty and becoming joint-Championship leaders is no bad way to spend a Sunday!”
Round four of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship will take place at Spa-Francorchamps on 24/25 July, and is an even more intriguing prospect than usual because the iconic circuit did not host a British GT round in 2020.
That means many of the drivers who made their British GT debuts last season may never have raced at Spa, handing a key advantage to some of the more experienced driver pairings on the grid as the standings in both GT3 and GT4 begin to really take shape.