There was no stopping the British GT Championship or Ginetta Cars’ trio of motorsport series this past weekend, as both moved on to to the full Grand Prix circuit of the home of British motorsport for the GT paddock’s centrepiece event of the year – the three hour Silverstone 500. Weather conditions were not the brightest across both days, but this weekend gathered together some of the finest GT racers around to do battle.

Pole for the three-hour Silverstone 500 was taken by the RAM Racing Mercedes of Kevin Tse and Maximilian Goetz, which immediately jumped into the lead after the safety car led the pack around for three laps due to the wet conditions. They headed the Blackthorn Aston Martin Vantage of Jonny Adam and Giacomo Petrobelli and the Garage 59 McLaren 720S of Adam Smalley and Shaun Balfe, with both the Mercedes and McLaren making their first stop under safety car just twenty minutes in while Petrobelli kept the Aston out to inherit the lead.

Petrobelli then spun at the Arena section after 45 minutes while chasing new leader Dries Vanthoor in the #1 Century Motorsport BMW M4 shared with returning 2023 GT3 champion driver Darren Leung for a guest appearance, followed by RAM’s second Mercedes with Phil Keen behind the wheel. A full course yellow for an incident between two GT4 cars allowed many teams to make stops, allowing Goetz to return to the front as pit strategies played out with the race heading towards its final hour.

They dropped back to fourth with the lead shared between first the #1 BMW with Leung at the wheel and then the #87 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan of Ricky and Rob Collard. Another full course yellow was called after Mark Radcliffe’s McLaren collided with Barwell’s sister Lamborghini. A frantic restart with Loggie leading in the RAM Mercedes saw a dice between a trio of McLarens in GT3 eventually saw Adam Smalley win out while guest returnee Jann Mardenborough was knocked out of contention by Marcus Clutton at the Arena section.

That proved to be a decisive move from Smalley as after the final pit stops played out with compensation time also added on for those successful at Silverstone, plus a drive through penalty for Clutton after his collision, this promoted Adam into a lead he wouldn’t lose, and he drove on to give himself and Shaun Balfe the outright Silverstone 500 victory in GT3. The ABBA Racing Mercedes of Sam and Richard Neary quietly recovered from an early spin at Copse to clinch 2nd place, ahead of the Orange Racing by JMH McLaren of Simon Orange and Tom Roche.

In GT4, pole sitters Jack Brown and Zack Meakin initially held the lead in class before being dropping back to fourth while front row mates Stuart Middleton and  Freddie Tomlinson took over in front. By the time the first full course yellow came out for the RAM Racing Mercedes GT4 knocked into the Vale gravel and the first pit stops had cycled through, Middleton continued to hold the lead in the Ginetta from the Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin driven by Mikey Porter with Meakin third in the McLaren.

Middleton was then hit with a drive through penalty for speeding under the full course yellow that left Porter’s Aston Martin to inherit the lead, but the McLaren (now with Brown at the wheel) wasted no time in catching and passing the Vantage and quickly extending a gap before handing back to Meakin at the next stop. After benefitting from another full course yellow to make their final stop, Brown and Meakin clinched GT4 victory. Mikey Porter and Jamie Day clinched second for Forsetti, while a well timed move on the final lap from Gordie Mutch gave him and Ian Duggan a superb third overall in the Mahiki Racing Lotus Emira.

Ginetta’s trio of championship provided just as much entertainment and impressive racing across both days too. The Ginetta Junior Championship enjoyed an expanded grid of cars with 26 entrants for Silverstone, including a handful of newcomers making their debuts. Henry Joslyn secured pole for a dry race one alongside Isaac Phelps, with Joslyn retaining the lead from the outset and through an early safety car. A failed lunge from Phelps at The Loop was followed by a more successful pass into Abbey a couple of minutes later, but eventually he was shuffled back down the top ten. Joslyn ended up victorious, resisting Charlie Hart who battled his way to second place after duelling Chase Fernandez on the final lap.

The weather on Sunday was a lot more saturated, prompting two laps behind the safety car before race two fully got underway. Unable to pull away, polesitter Charlie Hart found himself under pressure from Marcus Saeter, with Phelps ensuring a three car scrap for victory and Joslyn making it a quartet shortly after. With the four cars dicing endlessly amongst each other, Phelps was spun out of contention at Brooklands and as Saeter drove on to victory, Hart only just snatched P2 on the line from Joslyn at the flag.

Saeter then led from the start of race three on a mostly dry circuit compared to earlier in the day, resisting an early challenge from Fernandez at Stowe to retain P1 before settling to a three car lead group with Joslyn and Ethan Jeff-Hall. Both drivers passed Saeter in the Arena section with Joslyn’s further attempts to claim the lead coming to nothing in the end. After Phelps spun himself out of contention behind them exiting Farm, Jeff-Hall escaped to take his second win of the year to date with Joslyn second, while Saeter had to fend off a determined James Shotton to retain a podium spot.

A fine field of Ginetta GT Academy contested two races over the weekend, with race one turning out to mimic that of Oulton Park. This was thanks to Palmer Sport Scholarship winner James Nicholas who clinched pole for the first Silverstone race. A clean and quick start allowed Nicholas to stretch a 1.6 second gap by the end of lap one, and from here he kept on edging away lap after lap to build a comfortable lead he wouldn’t lose. Nicholas clinched his second career win by almost five seconds from Thomas Balfe and Harry Gamble on the podium, the latter yo-yoing up and down the order before taking 3rd. Julian Wantling won the GTA class.

In the wet the next day, a lengthy safety car start was followed by Harry Gamble immediately stealing the lead from Nicholas just corners into green flag racing. A spinner at Stowe into the gravel brought out the safety car again, but Gamble’s luck ran out with a lurid slide through Maggotts and Becketts losing him the lead to Nicholas. Slipping to third but quickly regaining second from Mike Taylor, Gamble almost stole the lead back on the final lap, but Nicholas stood his ground to take his second win of the weekend with Gamble second and Taylor third. Marc Elman redeemed himself for spinning out of the GTA class lead the day before to take the class win this time.

Over in the Ginetta GT Championship, Luke Garlick and McKenzie Douglass took up the front row together for race one, both drivers remaining in grid order and both also unchallenged from start to finish. Luke Garlick picked up the win with relative ease as well as topping Pro class, ahead of Douglass in second and Am class winner Nick White who took a superb third overall. Matt Shaw and Martin Thomas completed the Am podium, while Conner Garlick was third in Pro.

The Sunday race produced something rather special, in particular from Conner Garlick. Starting at the back of the field thanks to his second fastest lap time from qualifying being deleted, Conner elected to start on slick tyres with the circuit still greasy but drying lap per lap. Initially he struggled for pace in the first couple of laps, but building temperature into the tyres along with improving conditions helped him begin to lap quicker and quicker as he quickly picked off the cars ahead. Soon enough he had brother Luke in his sights to challenge for the lead and passed him with just under five minutes to go.

From here, Conner Garlick ran without fault and pulled off a superb last to first performance thanks to a tyre choice that was inspired in the end. Luke Garlick made it a family 1-2 with 2nd place with McKenzie Douglass in third to round off the Pro podium, while Nick White again claimed Am honours from Matt Shaw and Peter Mangion.

Written by Scott Woodwiss


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