2018 SEASON REVIEW: BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP – GT3
British GT produced yet another record-breaking campaign in 2018 during a season that will also be remembered for several history-making exploits. Most of them featured eventual GT3 champions Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam (Optimum Motorsport, Aston Martin), while Jack Mitchell and Century Motorsport made it a Drivers’ and Teams’ title double for BMW in GT4.
GT3: HAIGH AND ADAM HAND ASTON’S V12 VANTAGE THE PERFECT SWANSONG
Not many drivers win a British GT title. Even fewer manage two. But three? Nope, never been done. Until that is Jonny Adam continued his pursuit of personally re-writing every record possible by winning a third senior title in four years with as many different teams and co-drivers. What’s more, the Scot also set a new record for outright British GT victories.
But even benchmarks of those proportions weren’t sufficient to eclipse his Optimum Motorsport partner Flick Haigh who became the first woman in British GT’s 26-year history to claim an outright pole position, victory and Drivers’ title.
What’s more, the pair helped Aston Martin’s outgoing V12 Vantage GT3 sign off in style seven years after making its British GT debut.
Once again their success came at the expense of Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen who finished second overall for a third year running despite winning twice aboard their Lamborghini. TF Sport, who made it two Teams’ titles in three years, also headed to Donington in Drivers’ Championship contention before Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim settled for third.
Oulton Park’s traditional Easter Bank Holiday opener began with Haigh and Adam winning from pole before Minshaw and Keen found themselves out front when Race 2 was stopped due to heavy rain. That gave the Lamborghini crew a slight advantage heading to Rockingham where a combination of changeable weather and incidents helped Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman’s ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG win despite starting last.
The sun shone for the first time in 2018 at Snetterton where TF Sport made it five different winners in as many races. Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim played the Safety Car percentages perfectly to claim Race 1 victory ahead of Jetstream’s Aston Martin, which finished second following a pitstop delay, while former champions Andrew Howard and Derek Johnston went toe-to-toe in Race 2 before the latter – ably supported by Marco Sorensen – prevailed for the final time in his British GT career.
Silverstone’s blue riband 500-kilometre, three-hour race ushered in the second half of the season in early June when Farmer and Thiim became the first crew to win twice. Lifting the RAC Trophy also moved them to within 2.5 points of early pace-setters Minshaw and Keen, who resisted late pressure from fellow podium finishers Adam and Haigh.
Indeed, that result would prove a turning point for the Optimum pair who’d failed to finish on the rostrum since winning at Oulton on the opening weekend. Another third place next time out at Spa, behind Jetstream’s Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin and the Team Parker Bentley shared by Rick Parfitt Jnr and Ryan Ratcliffe, helped close the gap still further before winning the penultimate round at Brands Hatch catapulted them into championship top-spot.
That run of three podiums was in stark contrast to Barwell and TF Sport whose own title contenders each suffered DNFs in Belgium (Farmer/Thiim) and Brands Hatch (Minshaw/Keen). Equally, Optimum’s successful appeal against a penalty at Snetterton left Haigh and Adam on the brink of championship glory before Donington’s decider where fourth place on a sunny September Sunday was ultimately enough to make history, despite their arch rivals finishing first and second on the road.