Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen claimed the British GT3 Championship lead with victory in today’s opening race at Snetterton after Joe Osborne, who crossed the line first, was docked 30 seconds post-race.
Meanwhile, history was made in GT4 by Sandy Mitchell who became the series’ youngest ever race winner. The Scot - aged 16 years and 169 days - along with co-driver Ciaran Haggerty, the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse squad and their McLaren 570S all recorded their maiden British GT victories by just 0.3s.
GT3 Race 1: Minshaw and Keen inherit victory post-race
The opening race of the day at Snetterton will be remembered as one AmDTuning.com’s Joe Osborne and Lee Mowle could have won but that ultimately resulted in Keen and Minshaw claiming the GT3 championship lead for the first time this season.
With pole-sitter and opening stint leader Mark Farmer, and Rick Parfitt Jnr, facing 10 and seven-second pit-stop success penalties for finishing first and second at Spa, the fight was likely to boil down to Keen’s Lamborghini and Osborne’s BMW over the second half of the race.
With no additional time serve, their respective co-drivers Minshaw and Lee Mowle only had to remain near the sharp end over the opening 25 minutes. Pitting from second and third duly helped Keen and Osborne comfortably leapfrog Jon Barnes, whose co-driver Farmer had converted his pole position into a two-second lead when the stops began.
Keen began his stint with what looked like a safe four-second advantage, but that didn’t account for an inspired Osborne whose consecutive fastest laps helped the BMW scythe into the Lamborghini’s lead. It wasn’t long before the pair - who shared a car and class podium at last weekend’s 24 Hours at Spa - were nose-to-tail through the GT4 traffic and, sensing his chance at the Bomb Hole, Osborne dived down the inside. But the move wasn’t completely clean, resulting in Keen spinning and slipping seven seconds behind.
Osborne continued unharmed but, with just four of the 60 minutes remaining, was pinged with a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact. His failure to pit saw him take the chequered flag first before Race Control added 30 seconds to his time post-race in lieu of the drive-through, thus promoting Keen and Minshaw to their second race victory of the season and the GT3 points lead.
Barnes’ strong run helped him finish just 0.4s behind Keen in what would become second place for he and TF Sport co-driver Farmer, who backed up their victory at Spa last time out with another podium to help maintain their own title ambitions.
Rick Parfitt Jnr took advantage of a first lap incident between Derek Johnston and Alasdair McCaig to run fourth in his stint right behind Mowle, but - like Barnes and Farmer - lost time at his stop as a result of finishing second at Spa. Team Parker Racing co-driver Seb Morris therefore spent most of his run holding station ahead of Jonny Adam, whose co-driver Johnston had earlier recovered to fifth after his altercation with McCaig. Both the Bentley and Aston Martin subsequently picked up a place post-race, while Osborne and Mowle’s penalty saw them slot in to fifth.
Ian Stinton and Mike Simpson looked set for sixth thanks to strong stints from both drivers before a stop/go penalty for Tolman Motorsport’s pit time infringement and subsequent puncture dropped their Ginetta to eighth behind Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie’s Motorbase Performance Aston Martin and the similar PFL Motorsport-run V12 Vantage of Pete Littler and Jody Fannin.
Liam Griffin’s early unscheduled stop to replace a punctured tyre ended his and Alexander Sims’ hopes of bettering ninth, while Ultimate Speed’s Mike Brown and Matt Manderson completed the points-paying positions in 10th.
All of that means Minshaw and Keen now lead Johnston and Adam by just 4.5 points - the first time this year that the TF Sport pairing haven’t been on top - with Parfitt Jnr and Morris a further 7.5 further back. Farmer and Barnes also remain in contention; they’re now just 25 points off the lead.
Phil Keen, #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “They had the benefit of new tyres so caught us up really quickly. Then I ended up getting boxed in through the traffic when Joe was right with me; maybe he slightly misjudged the speed and tagged me. It was one of those things and he didn’t do it on purpose. He did a good enough job for the team last weekend [at the 24 Hours of Spa] so I’ll let him off. The team have done a great job to turn everything around since Spa. Jon’s stint was also great.”
GT4 Race 1: Haggerty and record-breaking Mitchell give McLaren 570S its maiden GT4 win
Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse finally gave its all-new McLaren 570S GT4 class victory in today’s opening British GT race at Snetterton after Ciaran Haggerty stood firm in the face of late-race pressure from Beechdean AMR’s Ross Gunn.
A congested start and brave move around the outside of Turn 1 helped Jack Mitchell leap from fourth on the grid to first by the end of lap one ahead of Jack Bartholomew, who’d performed similar heroics from fifth. But the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin would be back down to fourth at the end of its first stint after both pole-sitter Alex Reed and Sandy Mitchell re-passed.
Jack Mitchell’s excellent work aboard the Macmillan Racing V8 Vantage helped him to pit with a comfortable lead. However, his and Matthew Graham’s five-second pit-stop success penalty for finishing third at Spa saw the McLaren - now in the hands of Haggerty - vault to the front.
And that’s where the 570S would remain until the chequered flag despite the rapidly advancing Gunn, who used all of his experience to first pass Graham and then close to within half-a-second of Haggerty. His best chance of jumping the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse entry might have come on the final lap, but when he ran wide at Turn 1 the matter was all-but settled. Nevertheless, just 0.360s covered them at the finish.
Graham and Mitchell made it two British GT podiums on the bounce in third, while Joey Foster and Reed’s 10-second pit-stop success penalty for winning at Spa relegated them from second to fourth in the final classification. Championship leader Graham Johnson started on the front row but was a victim of the congested opening lap and, along with Mike Robinson, eventually completed the top-five.
William Thompson and Jordan Stilp finished where their RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta started in sixth, ahead of Abbie Eaton and Marcus Hoggarth’s Ebor GT Maserati and Rob Barrable and Aaron Mason’s Ginetta, which completed the top-eight.
Century Motorsport’s Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke’s title aspirations took a hit after finishing ninth, while Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick completed the points-paying places on their British GT return.
Ciaran Haggerty, #59 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4: “I thought I’d be able to get away at the start of my stint when I pulled a little gap over the two chasing Astons but the tyres started going off quite a bit so it became harder and harder to maintain the gap as it was. But finally getting ours and the car’s first victory, after all the issues we’ve had, feels even sweeter. We’ve come so close and been on pole position enough. It was probably the toughest race I’ve ever had with Ross closing me down, but the bit of breathing space he gave me on the final lap by running wide brought my heart rate down a bit!”
Sandy Mitchell, #59 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4: “It feels amazing! I was so nervous watching in the garage at the end because the Beechdean car looked very fast. I think it was four tenths going on to the final lap, so it was incredibly close. But I need to say a huge thanks to the team because collectively we’ve really worked at it this weekend. The ultimate pace hasn’t been there like it was at Spa, so it didn’t come easily.”
Race one’s results have seen Johnson and Robinson’s championship lead cut to 9.5 points, meaning that even a victory for the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport crew and a Bartholomew non-score wouldn’t be enough for the GT4 title to be decided this weekend.
Today’s second one-hour British GT race begins at 16:05.