DAVIDSON & MARTIN CLINCH SPA VICTORY IN BRITISH GT
Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin took their maiden British GT victories at Spa-Francorchamps this afternoon while Century Motorsport’s duo of Dean Macdonald and Jack Mitchell triumphed in GT4.
Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr and Ryan Ratcliffe absorbed plenty of late-race pressure to take second, ahead of the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin driven by Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam.
In GT4, a perfectly timed pitstop just as the Safety Car was deployed handed Dean Macdonald and Jack Mitchell a lead they would maintain from Tolman Motorsport’s McLaren of Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg. The podium was completed by Equipe Verschuur’s Finlay Hutchison and Daniel McKay.
GT3: DAVIDSON AND MARTIN TAKE FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON
Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin claimed their first British GT wins after a controlled drive saw the Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin take the chequered flag ahead of a close battle for second.
Starting second, Davidson kept a cool head in his opening stint and despite dropping back to fifth at one point, benefitted from a clash between the Nissan of Jordan Witt and the Bentley of Ian Loggie. He then took the lead when pole-sitter Flick Haigh spun at turn five and the Ram Racing Mercedes served a stop/go penalty.
As the green flag dropped, the race got off to an action-packed start when Mark Farmer’s TF Sport Aston Martin was forced on to the grass on the run down to Eau Rouge. The subsequent damage caused the Aston Martin to catch fire and drop oil on the circuit, whilst the chain reaction saw Andrew Howard’s Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage collect significant radiator damage before the Safety Car was deployed.
Remon Vos was adjudged to have caused the incident and was forced to serve a 60-second stop/go penalty, which dropped the #30 car from second to the back of GT3.
After racing resumed, Witt was awarded a 20-second stop/go penalty for his part in the clash with Loggie at the final chicane and that moved the Team Parker Racing Bentley of Rick Parfitt Jnr up to second behind Davidson. Loggie would also suffer a drive-through penalty for track limit violations.
Further back, the Barwell Motorsport duo of Sam De Haan in the #69 Lamborghini and Jon Minshaw in the #33 Huracan clashed at the hairpin, with De Haan adjudged to have been at fault and given a 10-second stop/go penalty. Minshaw, despite losing a number of places in the incident, recovered to seventh prior to the pit window opening.
Ahead of the Barwell Lamborghini came Johnston in the #17 Aston Martin and the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG of Richard Neary, who had stormed through the field from 14th to fifth. Fourth belonged to the ERC Sport machine of Lee Mowle, who had also made up places from 10th on the grid.
An action-packed first half of the race continued when the pros climbed aboard, starting with Adam Christodoulou’s ABBA Mercedes-AMG catching fire. The Safety Car was once again deployed for a lengthy stint but, once the order was settled, Maxime Martin continued to lead in the Jetstream Aston Martin from Ryan Ratcliffe’s #1 Bentley and Yelmer Buurman’s ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG.
Derek Johnston handed over to Marco Sorensen in fourth, ahead of Jonny Adam’s Aston Martin and Phil Keen’s Lamborghini.
Martin duly took the chequered flag 8s clear of Ratcliffe who held on to second in the face of significant pressure from Sorensen, Adam and Buurman, who was shuffled down to fifth while attempting to pass the Bentley. That subsequently became fourth post-race when TF Sport’s #17 Aston Martin was handed a 30s penalty for making avoidable contact earlier in the race.
Fifth therefore went to Minshaw and Keen who finished ahead of Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod’s Team Parker Bentley, which also served an early drive-through penalty, as well as TF Sport’s demoted Aston Martin.
Vos and his Sunoco Fastest Lap Award-winning co-driver Tom Onslow-Cole completed the top-eight ahead of Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker’s Barwell Lamborghini and Jordan Witt and Struan Moore’s RJN Nissan.
Having been fastest in the Am qualifying session on Saturday and taking his first podium of the year in Sunday’s race, the Blancpain Driver of the Weekend award was deservedly won by Rick Parfitt Jnr.
GT4: MACDONALD AND MITCHELL HOLD ON TO TAKE GT4 VICTORY
A tense GT4 race initially swung in the favour of Century Motorsport’s Dean Macdonald and Jack Mitchell during the pitstop window before the #43 BMW held off Tolman Motorsport’s long-time race-leading McLaren over the closing stages to claim victory.
The hectic race start saw Fox Motorsport’s Mark Murfitt suffer an early retirement after contact ahead, whilst up front Michael O’Brien continued to lead under the Safety Car in the pole-sitting McLaren. He headed the fellow 570S of Finlay Hutchison, the BMW of Ben Tuck and Tolman Motorsport’s Lewis Proctor, who had dropped one place from his grid spot to fourth.
That order remained unchanged for most of the first hour despite the quartet all running within a few seconds of each other.
Further back in the class, Balfe Motorsport’s Graham Johnson was forced to retire with damage after a clash with the HHC Motorsport Ginetta of Callum Pointon for which the latter was subsequently handed a 60-second stop/go penalty, which dropped him and Patrik Matthiesen out of victory contention.
As the pit window opened, the race was about to take a sudden and dramatic twist. The leading cars all headed to the pitlane where a fire for Proctor’s McLaren led to his and co-driver Jordan Albert’s retirement.
Then, the deployment of the Safety Car changed the race’s complexion once more when Century’s Macdonald and Mitchell benefitted from its timing to emerge in an unlikely lead, while Fagg, now at the wheel of the formerly race-leading McLaren, was demoted to second.
Daniel McKay, driving the #10 McLaren, emerged in third with Ben Tuck fourth in the second Century Motorsport BMW. As racing resumed, Scott Malvern began making moves and worked his way up to fifth for Team Parker Racing whilst Fagg put Mitchell under huge pressure at the front.
As time ticked down, Fagg, who would win the Sunoco Fastest Lap Award, tried everything he could to get past the BMW, but Mitchell stood firm to take a win, which would have seemed unlikely in the early stages, by just 0.387s. The podium was completed by Equipe Verschuur’s Hutchison and McKay.
Tuck brought his car home fourth, Pro/Am winners Malvern and Nick Jones were fifth in their Team Parker Mercedes-AMG, and sixth went to Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones. Matthiesen and Pointon recorded a seventh-place finish in the HHC Motorsport Ginetta ahead of ProTechnika’s Anna Walewska and Tom Canning.
The Aston Martin of Tom Wood and Jan Jonck finished ninth and the top-10 was completed by Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman in the UltraTek Racing Team RJN Nissan.
Whilst the McLaren of David Pattison and Joe Osborne didn’t finish the race, Tolman Motorsport were still very worthy PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award winners after an incredible overnight rebuild job saw their McLaren ready to race on Sunday morning following a qualifying accident.
Graham Davidson, Jetstream Motorsport #47 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “We didn’t come in to this weekend expecting anything like that. We’ve been close to wins a couple of times this year but a few mistakes and silly things have tripped us up along the way, which is really frustrating.
“I was terrified something was going to happen and at one point Maxime thought he had a puncture but we think it was just pick-up on the wheel. Ryan drove an amazing race to keep those other guys behind him but it took the pressure off Maxime and for him, hopefully it was an enjoyable second half of the race.”
Jack Mitchell, Century Motorsport #43 BMW M4 GT4: “As we pitted the Safety Car came out and we knew things were playing into our hands. I got onto the back of the Safety Car and found we were a lap in front so we thought it was going to be easy from there, but then race control released the other cars and they were on the back of me.
“We knew the McLaren had more pace and I had Charlie on my tail for the rest of the race so I had to put the car in exactly the right place to stop him getting past. My race craft and defending has become better over the previous years so I knew where to put the car and I knew where we were stronger, so it’s a really good result. It’s two wins in a row for me and I’m really happy for Dean coming in and getting his first win.”