BUURMAN & MOWLE TAKE BRITISH GT WIN FOR MERCEDES AT ROCKINGHAM
Four Safety Car periods and a slew of penalties helped ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman emerge victorious from a typically action-packed British GT encounter. The pair were joined on the podium by TF Sport’s Derek Johnston and Marco Sorensen – who were subsequently penalised 30s post-race – as well as Team Parker Racing’s Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod, although any number of crews could and probably should have featured on the rostrum.
Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw led the field away from pole but twice saw sizeable leads wiped out by Safety Car periods. Optimum’s Flick Haigh gave chase initially before losing out to Sam De Haan before the first Safety Car period, which was triggered by Shaun Balfe’s McLaren hitting the Turn 12 wall.
Haigh’s excursion at Tarzan just after the restart promoted Graham Davidson – flying in the Jetstream Aston Martin that started ninth – to third behind De Haan. The pair remained in that order until after the second caution period, required while David Pattison’s beached Tolman McLaren was retrieved, when Davidson dived down the inside at Deene.
The Scot then went after Minshaw who, having established a 10s lead before the second Safety Car, was unable to replicate that same pace thereafter. And although the Aston Martin was unable to find a way past, it was perfectly placed to inherit the lead during the pitstops when the #33 Lamborghini served its additional 20s success penalty for winning at Oulton Park.
Davidson’s co-driver Maxime Martin duly re-joined 15s ahead of Phil Keen, an advantage that was swiftly wiped out by the day’s third and fourth Safety Car periods in quick succession. But when the race went green for the final time Jetstream’s V12 Vantage was pinged for multiple track limits violations and had to serve a drive-through penalty.
That should have handed Barwell’s #33 Lamborghini the lead. However, just before Martin pitted, Keen was passed by Buurman whose co-driver Mowle had kept the AMG in contention throughout the opening stint while rivals faltered. Indeed, the Mercedes found itself seventh at half-distance after an electrical glitch stymied Mark Farmer’s Aston Martin, Derek Johnston received a drive-through penalty for contact, and Rick Parfitt Jnr was spun around. Buurman maintained the charge thereafter and was perfectly placed to benefit after also passing Darren Turner.
But while the race had come to ERC Sport, it was getting away from Barwell whose challenge faltered at the pitstops. First, De Haan’s Huracan – due to inherit second place – was retired with a clutch problem before co-driver Jonny Cocker had a chance to re-join. The pitstops also put paid to #33’s second place when Race Control handed Minshaw and Keen a subsequent 10s stop/go penalty for an infringement.
That gave Buurman a reasonably straightforward run to the chequered flag, which he took 4.3s clear of TF Sport’s Sorensen. However, the Aston Martin – which had already been handed a drive-through penalty for contact – ultimately had another 30s added to its race time as a direct result of spinning Parfitt Jnr out of fifth midway through the opening stint.
Team Parker Racing’s Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod therefore moved up one place to second in the final standings after the latter finally overhauled Beechdean AMR’s Darren Turner on the penultimate lap. Turner and Andrew Howard were third ahead of Haigh and Optimum co-driver Jonny Adam, who was also in hot pursuit of the podium places during the second stint.
Martin and Davidson recovered from their drive-through penalty to finish sixth on the road but fifth in the final result, while the latter’s charge from ninth to second earned him Blancpain’s Driver of the Day Award. Keen was just 0.2s behind at the finish and close enough to salvage sixth for Barwell after a tough raceday at Rockingham.
Johnston and Sorensen slotted into seventh, finishing ahead of Ryan Ratcliffe and Parfitt Jnr’s delayed Bentley which completed the classified GT3 entries.