Jonny Adam and James Cottingham became the first pairing to claim two wins in British GT this season, their success allowing them to regain the lead in the championship as just 12 points cover the top four crews.
The 2 Seas Motorsport entry never dropped out of contention during the two-hour contest at Donington Park, sailing through to another victory as other leading protagonists made mistakes either out on track or in the pits.
Initially Cottingham lost ground on the opening lap as an attempted move around the outside of polesitter Shaun Balfe into Redgate allowed Andrew Howard’s Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage to get a better exit, with Lucky Khera’s Race Lab McLaren 720S Evo almost demoting Cottingham’s Mercedes-AMG further.
Navigating GT4 traffic soon became an issue for the leaders, with Howard taking the opportunity to move into the lead at Balfe’s expense into the Fogarty Esses after just nine laps. The two-time British GT champion soon began to pull clear as Cottingham took a further 14 laps to force his way into second, while Balfe began a downward spiral through the pack.
A gap of more than four seconds between the leading pair soon began to reduce approaching the end of the first hour, and eventually they found themselves nose-to-tail with Morgan Tillbrook’s Enduro Motorsport McLaren in tow after a remarkable rise from ninth. Any space remaining between the leaders soon evaporated as a safety car was deployed just before the hour mark after Mike Price’s Mercedes crashed and rolled onto the barriers exiting McLeans.
The subsequent recovery of Price – who was taken to the medical centre for precautionary checks – the retrieval of his Greystone GT machine and repair to the barrier all led to a caution period lasting in excess of 30 minutes.
With the pack together as the GT3 pit window opened, it came down to a race between the pitcrews, all three leading cars without any compensation penalties from the previous Silverstone round. But, while Adam rejoined at the head of the pack, there was a 7s delay for the Beechdean machine, Howard admitting that he’d made a mistake reattaching the safety net after team-mate Ross Gunn had jumped in the car.
The error dropped them to fourth, but worse was to befall the Enduro McLaren as Marcus Clutton, in for Tillbrook, found he had no throttle when leaving the pits and was forced to perform a master reset, relegating him to eighth.
Balfe's Barwell Lamborghini started on pole but slipped back during opening stint
Photo by: Jakob Ebrey
Once racing resumed, with fewer than 25 minutes left, Adam remained in control throughout, taking his British GT win tally to 18 and is now just one behind the outright record currently held by Phil Keen. “The championship is coming alive,” said Adam, who initially had been due to miss the Silverstone round last month, before the European Le Mans Series event at Imola was called off.
The new championship leader’s closest challengers were Euan Hankey and Khera, the pair rewarded for staying out of trouble with the latter pitting from fourth having moved ahead of Darren Leung’s Century Motorsport BMW M4 and Balfe in his stint.
Potentially the most surprising result was that of reigning champion Ian Loggie and co-driver Jules Gounon, the second 2 Seas Motorsport pairing completing the podium despite struggling for pace all weekend.
After starting seventh, Loggie noticeably dropped back from the cars ahead as he fought with a general lack of power. Having found a little more pace as the Mercedes’ fuel load lightened, he too demoted Balfe for sixth before the safety car negated any gap to the head of the field. A clean pitstop ensured the pair took their second podium of the season, and now trail their 2 Seas team-mates by 7.5 points.
Behind, it was a case of what might have been for Howard and Gunn, the Aston duo benefiting from the newly laid surface at the Donington Park circuit, which lowered lap times by more than two seconds.
Fifth was a strong result for the BMW of Leung and Dan Harper, who came into the weekend as championship leaders having won last time out at Silverstone. Serving a 20s compensation penalty dropped Harper down to seventh after the pitstops, but he immediately moved into sixth with a hard but fair pass on Martin Plowman’s McLaren into Redgate.
And he gained another position with a move on Chris Froggatt, the Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren driver and team-mate Kevin Tse finishing sixth, while Sandy Mitchell was unable to make ground from seventh after Balfe’s unexplained and significant drop in pace.
Clutton’s day went from bad to worse after the pitstop mishap, a collision with Plowman’s Paddock machine exiting the Melbourne Hairpin pitching the Enduro car heavily into the concrete barriers. They joined the RAM Racing Mercedes of John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello on the sidelines, after the former hopped the Fogarty Esses chicane on lap three and cracked the sump.
British GT4 victory at Donington Park has provisionally gone to Brown and Clark
Photo by: Jakob Ebrey
Jack Brown and Charles Clark provisionally claimed victory in GT4 at Donington Park, the pair’s second success of the season pending following an appeal by Raceway Motorsport from the previous British GT round.
The Optimum Motorsport crew’s yet-to-be confirmed victory came after Clark grabbed the lead approaching the final 20 minutes, getting the better of Tom Wrigley into McLeans. The duo, who also won last time out at Silverstone, had to give best to the DTO Motorsport McLaren Artura of Josh Rowledge/Aston Millar and Raceway Motorsport Ginetta G56 of Freddie Tomlinson/Stuart Middleton in qualifying and could only manage third.
But Brown was able to closely shadow the leading pair during his first stint, with Tomlinson having got the jump on Rowledge at the start after his radio cut out just as he rounded the final turn and the unsighted green lights went out. The young Ginetta driver put up an impressive defensive display for the opening stint, rebuffing Rowledge on numerous occasions and surviving heavy contact with the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Mark Sansom into Redgate.
Rowledge’s pressure eventually told, though, with the DTO driver getting the position on the inside into Goddards before eking out a small lead while Brown moved into second at Redgate several tours later.
With the field brought together by the caution for Mike Price’s accident, and having to serve less time due to being a Pro-Am pairing, Ian Gough handed the Racelab McLaren over to Wrigley at the head of the pack having been in seventh prior to the stops.
Millar rejoined second and was arguably in prime position for the win, but his McLaren suffered a complete loss of power behind the safety car, coming to a stop at the top of the Craner Curves. It allowed Clarke a free run at Wrigley once racing resumed as the front two pulled clear of a tremendous scrap for third.
Middleton, in for Tomlinson, was forced to continue his stablemate’s defensive driving as Lewis Plato challenged for the final podium position. A better run out of Coppice eventually gave the Century BMW racer the position before the Fogarty Esses, with Darren Burke – sharing the Enduro McLaren with Harry George – also demoting Middleton a further position in the final five minutes. However, the Ginetta driver’s race came to an end on the penultimate lap at the Melbourne Hairpin with damaged suspension, but was still classified ninth.
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