PARFITT & MORRIS WIN OPENING BRITISH GT ROUND AT OULTON PARK
Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris made the perfect start to their new partnership with JRM Racing by claiming victory in British GT’s first 60-minute race at Oulton Park earlier today. HHC Motorsport took the GT4 spoils courtesy of Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon.
Barwell’s Adam Balon and Phil Keen finished second despite the latter’s best efforts to reel in the Bentley, while Bradley Ellis withstood Jonny Cocker’s late pressure to complete the podium with Optimum co-driver Ollie Wilkinson.
McLarens locked out the GT4 rostrum thanks to Tolman Motorsport’s James Dorlin and Josh Smith who hounded Pointon to the finish. HHC’s second 570S finished right behind in the hands of Tom Jackson and Luke Williams after late contact side-lined Tolman’s #5 entry.
RAM Racing’s Ian Loggie led the 34-strong field away under sunny skies in Cheshire but only remained out front for a lap-and-a-half before Team Parker’s Ryan Ratcliffe hit the Mercedes-AMG approaching Hislops. RAM’s race was run there and then while Ratcliffe limped his Bentley as far as Warwick Bridge. The entry also featuring Glynn Geddie will remain stationary for an additional 15 seconds during its Race 2 pitstop as punishment for the incident.
Parfitt, who passed Sam De Haan’s Barwell Lamborghini at the start, thus inherited the lead after the ensuing Safety Car period ended with 45 minutes left on the clock. And the 2017 champion duly extended his advantage before the GT3 pit window opened seven minutes later.
Co-driver Morris re-joined in clear air ahead of Barwell’s other Huracan peddled by Keen. The pair were never together on track despite the gap ebbing and flowing throughout. 3.6s separated them at the finish.
Instead, the most entertaining battle centred on the final podium place. Wilkinson’s excellent opening stint helped Optimum’s Aston Martin pick up five places, which ultimately became third after Ellis climbed aboard. De Haan’s co-driver Jonny Cocker re-joined behind and spent the remaining 30 minutes searching for a way past the V8 Vantage. But Ellis stood firm to claim his first British GT3 podium since Snetterton 2008.
Century’s BMWs completed the top-six after its Pro and Am contingent ran nose-to-tail during both stints. Adrian Willmott’s move on Dominic Paul was particularly eye-catching, but it was the team’s #3 crew that claimed the bragging rights when Ben Green took the chequered flag less than a second clear of Jack Mitchell.
TF Sport’s Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam were uncharacteristically subdued en route to seventh ahead of Team ABBA Racing’s Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou. Beechdean AMR and TF Sport’s delayed #2 Aston Martin rounded out the points scoring positions.
McLaren scored a one-two-three after HHC Motorsport and Tolman Motorsport’s 570Ss came good in race trim.
Multimatic’s Mustangs shared the front row, Jade Buford jumping his pole-sitting team-mate Scott Maxwell to lead the opening exchanges. Dean Macdonald also muscled his way past before the Safety Car appeared on lap two and then hounded Buford for much of the stint.
The order remained the same until the pitstops began when Macdonald squeezed down the inside at Lodge. The McLaren and Ford then ran side-by-side along the start/finish straight before Buford was forced to concede the lead at Old Hall.
The #57 McLaren emerged with its lead still intact, albeit with Josh Smith and Lewis Proctor for company. The Tolman duo’s co-drivers Jordan Collard and James Dorlin had run fourth and seventh before their stops and also benefitted from Maxwell running off-track after banging wheels with Morris’ race-leading Bentley.
The trio were soon joined by HHC’s second McLaren which had moved from sixth to fourth between the stops. The 570Ss circulated as one until the final moments when contact between Luke Williams and Proctor resulted in the latter’s retirement.
Buford and Chad McCumbee came home fourth in a race that promised much for Multimatic, whose second Mustang dropped further down the order late on. TF Sport’s Patrick Kibble and Josh Price were best of the Astons in fifth while Invictus Games Racing’s Jaguar shared by Steve McCulley and Matthew George won the Pro/Am class after fighting through from 16th to sixth.
Beechdean AMR’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman were less than two tenths further back, while Balfe Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien also fought through from a lowly grid position to complete Pro/Am’s rostrum behind the Jaguar and Aston Martin. Optimum Motorsport’s Connor O’Brien and Jack Butel plus Fox Motorsport’s Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst completed the top-10.