This season’s British GT finale was hosted at the magnificent Donington Park. Going into the race, the GT3 partnership of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the Barwell Lamborghini were leading the Championship, just 9 points ahead of Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam in the TF Aston Martin. In GT4, Graham Jonson, Mike Robinson and Jack Bartholomew were locked in a three way duel for the title, with Bartholomew’s Beechdean teammate, Jordan Albert absent from the final round.
GT3 Race Report:
The race began with Derek Johnston on pole position, leading the grid into the first corner. Almost immediately, Liam Griffin’s Lamborghini collided with Mark Farmer’s Aston, taking both the drivers off the track, but ending the Aston Martin’s afternoon, just two corners into the race. This incident resulted in a safety car to clear Farmer’s Aston, which caused a restart after 3 laps, again headed by number 17, Derek Johnston.
As the race grew older, Phil Dryburgh became the next victim, after completing just 7 laps, his Aston Martin suffered a large oil leak on the final corner, leaving a slippery racing line in the path of the four leaders. This caused all four to run wide, but fortunately, nothing more, with the gap from Johnston in first to Parfitt in fourth just a few seconds.
McCaig stayed close to Johnston, holding off the Barwell Lamborghini, driven by Minshaw, in third, which seemed to be constantly dropping time, eventually coming under pressure from the Bentley of Parfitt.
With ninety minutes left on the timer, Derek Johnston’s lead had grown to five seconds ahead of McCaig, with championship leader, Minshaw, just behind. However, dramatically, Minshaw ran wide on the exit of the Craners, burying his Lamborghini Huracan, and his title hopes, in the barrriers.
The front three remained constant up until the driver’s changes began to come. Race leader, Johnston was the last of the leaders to come in, just as the timer hit the hour mark. He stepped out to make way for Jonny Adam.
Adam came out from the pits to find himself behind the McLaren of Rob Bell, and ahead of Seb Morris in third. As it stood, with just under an hour to go, Jonny and his teammate Johnston would come out as British GT champions.
The race was precessional for a few laps, until, with half an hour to go, it was decided that fifth placed Martin Short would receive a stop go penalty, for infringements during his pit stop.
As the race neared it’s climax, the reigning GT3 champion’s number 1 Beechdean AMR sustained damage to each wing, with an unknown cause, but this superficial damage had little or no effect on the performance. Jonny Adam continued to chase the McLaren, but knew that if the positioning stayed as it was, he would be crowned the GT3 champion. Despite some pressure from the Bentley driven by Morris, the standings remained the same, and Bell brought home the McLaren in first, followed by the new champion, Jonny Adam, in second.
GT4 Race Report:
Jack Bartholomew began the afternoon on pole, with the title clearly in his sights. However, thanks to a poor start, the dream of a championship seemed a long way off. After just one lap, he was down in sixth place. The new leader, Sandy Mitchell in the Black Bull McLaren led his namesake, Jack Mitchell in the number 42 Aston Martin.
The most exciting racing of the first phase of the race came courtesy of the Maserati of Marcus Hoggarth and Beechdean’s Jack Bartholomew. Marcus was close to passing Bartholomew on numerous occasions, but failed to make any moves stick, and thanks to a mistake, resulting in a spin, found himself drop to eighth place.
As the race reached it’s mid point, the inexperience of Great British Bake Off star, Paul Hollywood showed, with a spin shortly before he gave up his seat for teammate, Jamie Chadwick. The leader, Hoggarth, came in to make way for Ciaran Haggerty, who’d only this weak sustained an injury, severing a main tendon in his hand with a hack saw. This didn’t seem to phase the 20 year old, as he looked to maintain his first position.
Ross Gunn of the 407 Beechdean Aston was battling hard throughout, but sustained brake damage with just over half an hour to go, dropping him into 7th place, losing out to Maserati driver Abbie Eaton.
Jamie Stanley became the final victim of the race, losing a wheel with only twenty five minutes to race. His Ginetta was left stranded, raising question marks as to whether or not there would be a safety car. However, no such occurrence took place, and the end of the two hour period loomed.
Ciaran Haggerty heroically brought home the McLaren in first place, despite his right hand and arm being in a cast. It was Mike Robinson, though, who celebrated his GT4 championship, alongside teammate Graham Johnson. Heartbreak for Jack Bartholomew, who couldn’t quite produce the result required for a chance of the title, thanks to the brake fault sustained by Ross Gunn in the second half of the race.