Alex Reed, Joey Foster and Lanan Racing recorded their maiden British GT4 Championship victories at Spa-Francorchamps earlier today after a flawless performance aboard their Ginetta G55 helped them claim a 4.3s victory over PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.
Third place went to Generation AMR Macmillan Racing’s Jack Mitchell and Matthew Graham on a day when domestic entries filled the top seven positions in the combined British GT and GT4 European Series classification.
That would have likely been eight had the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S that dominated the opening stint not ground to a halt just before the pit-stop window opened after 50 minutes, leaving pole-sitters Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty to once again rue what might have been.
Instead, it was Lanan Racing who were left celebrating after winning their first British GT race since entering the series at the start of 2016. The huge 42-car combined GT4 entry meant it was anything but straight forward, although neither Reed or Foster were ever challenged after the McLaren retired from the lead.
18-year-old Reed, who lined-up second, maintained that position throughout the opening stint. Although never able to challenge Mitchell, he pitted with a 20-second advantage over Johnson’s chasing Ginetta, which had lined up fourth before passing Anna Walewska’s Century Motorsport Ginetta soon after the start.
With no pit success penalties for either crew to serve, Foster and Robinson emerged from their respective stops separated by roughly the same margin. And although the latter was able to halve the gap over the final stint, the relatively slender winning margin owed much to Foster’s cautious final laps.
A consistent, trouble-free and fast race also earned Mitchell and Graham their second GT4 podium of the season. Mitchell started sixth of the British GT runners, but 15th in the combined class classification, and spent much of the first half of his stint focusing on tyre preservation. That would pay off for his co-driver after the pit-stops when Graham emerged third before stroking the Ginetta home.
Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton’s Ebor GT Maserati MC GranTurismo was 20 seconds further back in fourth after starting seventh of the British GT runners and one place behind Mitchell and Graham’s Aston overall, while William Phillips and Jordan Stilp’s RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta led home the sister G55 of Rob Barrable and Aaron Mason.
Walewska and Nathan Freke’s Century Motorsport Ginetta finished seventh on the road but, under Belgian regulations, was docked 30 seconds for overtaking under yellow flags. Nevertheless, that wasn’t enough for erstwhile championship leaders Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert to move up one place from eighth.
Century’s second entry driven by Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen was ninth, one place clear of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern’s Team Parker Racing Porsche Cayman.
Sandy Mitchell underlined his and the McLaren 570S’s pace by claiming the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Race - a 2m34.552s - which was also a new British GT4 lap record for Spa.
All of that means Johnson and Robinson return to the top of the GT4 standings on 114.5 points, 17.5 clear of Bartholomew and Jordan.
Alex Reed, #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4: “I’m ecstatic! There’s no words and I’m just amazed that we managed to do it. The McLaren was unlucky to go out the way it did but I’m so happy with our result, which cancels it out a bit. I’m pumped!”
Joey Foster, #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4: “We’ve been working away all season, getting better bit by bit, but we had a test here last week which went really well. The rain in qualifying threw us a bit because we didn’t really know where we stood against the others. But the race went perfectly for both Alex and I, so I’m really, really pleased to get Lanan’s first British GT win, especially as this is the first time I’ve driven at Spa since my big shunt in 2011. It’s great to come back and get on the top step; the monkey’s off my back.”
Jack Mitchell, #42 Generation AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4: “I tried staying out of the first corner squabbles because there were so many cars on track, before setting consistent times once the race settled down. We also focused on saving the tyres over the first half of the stint; you could see at the end we were catching a few of them up. That helped quite a lot. Matty then did a great job to bring it home.”
Graham Johnson, #50 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “It was very hot out there. Mike and I didn’t start as high as we should have after being blocked in qualifying, so I was able to make up a few places over the first stint. The guys at the front had incredible pace, and particularly the McLaren, but we stuck at it and got a decent result. We’re not talking about the championship yet because every time we do something seems to go wrong!”
The penultimate rounds of this season’s British GT Championship take place at Snetterton on August 6-7.
Click here for the complete Spa-Francorchamps classification.