Tony Gilham says lessons learned from RCIB Insurance Racing’s maiden British GT Championship campaign are helping to improve the squad’s other motorsport programmes after clinching 2016’s GT4 teams’ title at Donington Park on Sunday.
The Team HARD-run outfit also won the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award for repairing one of its heavily damaged Ginettas overnight after Aaron Mason clipped a sausage curb at the Esses and crashed heavily during Saturday’s qualifying session.
But the long hours were rewarded when Mason and co-driver Rob Barrable battled back from 18th in class to finish the two-hour race seventh and score the necessary points required to beat PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport by just five points in the GT4 teams’ championship.
“It was a very late night and early morning,” confirmed Gilham. “Basically, we needed to replace the entire front end, so it was a big repair job. Fortunately between ourselves and Ginetta there were enough spares, although we were also fabricating a few bits and pieces on-site. It was very satisfying to see the car run so reliably and score the points that got us over the line in the teams’ championship. That’s down to the guys in the garage.”
And it was those same crew members who Gilham attributed RCIB Insurance Racing’s title to after graduating to the GT4 ranks at the start of the season.
“We’re used to competing in other top series like the BTCC but British GT’s been an eye-opening experience,” he said. “GT racing is very different; you cannot afford to relax for one moment. Collectively, and I include myself in that, we’ve been forced to improve and learn new skills, which has not only taken the team to a new level but also had a positive impact across our other activities.
“The guys have been forced to up their game, and they’ve responded brilliantly. The attention to detail required here is on another level. That’s why we’re sticking with British GT next season.”
Gilham also admitted that winning the crown at RCIB’s first attempt wasn’t necessarily in the script.
“We knew the competition was going to be tough; in terms of numbers and quality 2016’s been the best British GT4 season ever,” he added. “So although you always hope to do well you can’t expect to come in as a new team and win the championship straight away. We’ve certainly had our ups and downs this year, and not scored as many points as we could have done, but I think our driver line-ups demonstrated that we were here to seriously compete and both have been very consistent.
“Beating 40-odd GT4 cars to win the Silverstone 500 had been my highlight of the season until Sunday. But I think that’s been replaced now! I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved this season.”
The team’s #45 crew of Jordan Stilp and William Phillips also claimed third in the final Silver Cup standings, while Mason and Barrable were fourth in Pro-Am.