An absolutely sterling effort through the night saw the two cars which went off into the barriers during qualifying up and ready for racing, so hats off to both Beechdean AMR and Fox Motorsport for having both their cars ready to race in such a short space of time! A shout out must also go out to Barwell Motorsport for their efforts in getting not one but two cars back to fighting fit in the short time between Free Practice and Qualifying yesterday!
With the sweet, however there is often bitter, and this came in the form of penalties applied to both the Beechdean #7, which required a new chassis as a result of the damage sustained to the Aston Martin during Andrew Howard’s qualifying session. They received a 10 place grid penalty for this, whilst the Barwell #1 Lamborghini received a five place grid penalty as it underwent an engine change following a cracked engine valve.
The race started out well as pole sitter Kelvin Fletcher pulled out an early lead of 1.6s by the end of the first lap between the Paddock Motorsport Bentley Continental GT3 and second placed Kevin Tse in the psychedelically super coloured Ram Racing #88 Mercedes AMG GT3.
There was early contact between the Ram Racing #6 Mercedes of Ian Loggie and the freshly repaired Barwell #63 Lamborghini of Leo Machitski which was very clear when looking at the rear facing on-board camera!
An early off saw the #77 Enduro Motorsport spinning off into the grass, which whilst they recovered under their own steam put them to the back of the field with a struggle to make their way back up through the ranks ahead of them.
The newly shelled ‘stealth’ version of the #8 Team Abba Racing Mercedes lived up to it’s freshly forged reputation as Richard Neary stealthily gained two spots from his fifth placed start into third with sights set for the top spot. Meanwhile, Tse had steadily decreased the gap between the #88 and race leading #11, reducing the gap to just over a tenth of a second, before taking the lead as a mistake from Fletcher meant the Bentley ran wide, leaving it as the meat of a Mercedes AMG sandwich, until GT4 traffic allowed Neary to take P2 as the pit window opened.
The second half of the race saw the Pros and Silvers take to the driving seat, and as we’ve pretty much come to expect now, Dennis Lind emerged from the pit lane, straight away setting a new fastest lap in the Barwell #63. Scott Malvern’s stint in the Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3R also got off to a great start, seeing the #66 rise three places from 8th to 5th.
Tom Onslow-Cole eked out his lead in the Ram Racing #88 to almost three seconds ahead of Sam Neary’s #8, in turn was a second ahead of now third placed Lind, who continued to close the gap between them to under half a second as the finish line grew closer. A little further down the order, Scott Malvern gained a spot in the #66 Team Parker Racing Porsche, taking that to fifth place.
As we moved into the last quarter of the race there was little change in positions, however the battles still raged on as Lind continued to close the gap between himself and second placed Neary further still, with the Team Abba Mercedes and Barwell Lamborghini now under half a second apart. The Martin Plowman pedalled Bentley was also under fire in fourth place, as Scott Malvern had brought the Team Parker Porsche to within 1/10th of a second, however the announcement of an investigation and subsequent 30s time penalty for track limits infringements effectively neutralised that battle, leaving Malvern bringing the #66 home in fourth.
As the chequered flag flew, it was Tom Onslow-Cole in the race by race entry for Ram Racing in the #88 – a great team effort by him and Tse, especially considering Tse hadn’t even seen the circuit until earlier that week! Sam Neary brought the #8 Abba Mercedes home in second, and Lind, the Barwell #63 in third. The Team Parker Racing #66 of Malvern, and Phil Keen’s WPI Motorsport #18 Lamborghini completed the top five.
GT4 – Turner Triumphs for Newbridge seeing Century take Second
In GT4 the awareness that the overall championship could be claimed this weekend was tangible, and hopes began to rise as title hopeful Will Burns took the Century Motorsport #57 BMW to an early lead after making a move around the outside of pole sitter Matt Topham’s #27 Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin AMR GT4 at the start of the race.
Meanwhile, Will Moore in the #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 was under pressure early on from the fourth placed Steller Motorsport #42 Audi R8 LMS GT4 as Richard Williams had a good start, which he sustained throughout his stint.
The first incident in the GT4 ranks also claimed the first casualty of the race, as a collision between the #25 Mercedes of Car Gods with Cicely Motorsport and the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK #15 saw Dave Whitmore limp the #25 Mercedes AMG GT4 back to the pits, where it stayed for the remainder of the race. This was the beginning of a nightmare of a race for the Toyota GR Supra GT4. A ten second stop/go penalty was issued to the #15, driven at that time by John Ferguson for causing a collision.
As the pit window opened, Topham opted to stay out in the Newbridge Aston Martin, rather than come straight in – he’d kept up with race leader Burns throughout his stint, and this decision combined with the knowledge that the Century #9 BMW’s pitstop would be longer paid off, as upon takeover, pro driver Darren Turner quickly converted Topham’s great stint and the team’s strategy into a 10s advantage which meant a fairly quiet stint for the eventual race winner!
Elsewhere in the GT4 ranks there was more drama to come, as not long into the second half of the race there was a collision between the Century Motorsport #9 of Andrew Gordon-Colebrook and the Balfe Motorsport #90 of Ashley Marshall, which saw both cars off onto opposite sides of the track. The clearly damaged and smoking BMW limped back to the pits, but the decision was made to leave the #90 for retrieval later.
The TGR UK #15 received further woes as Jamie Caroline – returning GT4 champion stepping in for Scott McKenna received a stop/go penalty for exceeding track limits. The Academy Motorsport #61 was also unlucky as it failed to finish the race, lasting only to the halfway point.
Turner’s cruise to victory in the GT4 race for the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin meant that the title was not yet secured for Will Burns and Gus Burton, the latter also experiencing a trouble free stint in the Century Motorsport #57, however they moved close enough that it was certainly in reach for the next race later that afternoon.
Sennan Fielding took the #42 Steller Motorsport to a well deserved third place, having capitalised on teammate Williams’ hard work during his stint.
The Team Rocket RJN #2 McLaren 570s GT4 of James Kell and Jordan Collard took fourth place with a trouble free race for the pair, with the Assetto Motorsport #56 Ginetta G56 of Mark Sansom and Charlie Robertson took fifth.