> TF Sport’s Aston Martin holds off Balfe’s McLaren; De Haan/Cocker complete the podium
> Multimatic’s Maxwell/Priaulx lead home GT4 title rivals Pointon/Macdonald
> Provisional result: Donington Park
> Points: GT3 | GT4
TF Sport duo Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam signalled their British GT title intentions by converting pole position into victory at Donington Park earlier today, while a determined performance by Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx earned the Multimatic Motorsports pair a second GT4 win of the season – as well as top spot in the championship.
With the exception of the mid-race pitstop phase Davidson and Adam were never out of the lead. Still, the new Aston Martin was made to work hard for its first domestic victory by the rapid Balfe Motorsport McLaren shared by Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell. The race boiled down to a battle between these two crews, while Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini edged closer to the top of the overall championship by finishing third.
Meanwhile, the Multimatic Motorsports pairing of Maxwell and Priaulx bagged a second GT4 win of the season after twice losing and then re-taking the lead over the course of two hours. Erstwhile points leaders Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon were second in their HHC McLaren, with Lewis Proctor and Jordan Collard completing the podium in the similar Tolman-run car. Pro/Am honours went the way of Sir Chris Hoy and Billy Johnson who completed a stellar weekend for Multimatic.
GT3: FLYING SCOTS HELP TF SPORT RETURN TO WINNING WAYS
Having delivered a superb performance to earn pole position in yesterday's qualifying session, Davidson was in no mood to surrender his advantage at the start of today’s two-hour race. The TF Sport driver made a perfect getaway and promptly set about building an advantage at the head of the field.
His initial pursuer was Michael Igoe who was able to keep his WPI Motorsports Lamborghini in second spot during the early stages. But challenging Davidson for the lead would be another matter entirely, as the Scot edged away to establish a three-second cushion in his #47 Aston Martin.
This became even more comfortable when Igoe hit problems and slipped back to fourth spot. Shaun Balfe moved into second, having made progress from his P4 grid slot at the start, but was some eight seconds in arrears of the leading Aston at the half-hour mark.
Balfe put on a charge, quickly setting the fastest lap up to that point and eating away at Davidson's lead over the following laps. The McLaren man was able to make particular gains as the cars moved through lapped traffic, allowing him to close to within 1.8s of the Aston as the hour approached.
This was the signal for driver changes to begin and the two leaders elected to stop at the same time. Davidson concluded a superb showing by handing over to Adam, while Balfe ended an equally impressive stint with Bell taking the wheel.
When Jonny Adam is handed a car in the lead of a British GT race, the result is rarely in doubt. That said, the presence of a Rob Bell-driven McLaren looming large in his mirrors might be among the few things capable of worrying the three-time champion.
The gap was now down to just a second and, from this point, the race developed into a game of cat and mouse. Adam was his usual self out front, delivering a cool and consistent performance in the TF Sport machine. But at no stage did Bell let up in his pursuit, with the gap only fluctuating as the leading duo carved their way through traffic.
Then, with just seven minutes left on the clock, Adam ran wide and lost time to Bell. The gap was suddenly less than half a second as the McLaren edged closer than ever to the rear of the Aston.
But Adam was in no mood to let such a dominant team performance slip and quickly recovered to move clear on his way to the chequered flag. As well as providing a significant shot in the arm for their title hopes, the win also represented a first for the new Aston Martin Vantage in British GT as well as a record-equalling 15th for Adam, who drew level with Phil Keen in the process.
The podium was completed by the #69 Barwell Lamborghini of De Haan and Cocker. The duo ran a relatively quiet race to come home 14s shy of the Balfe McLaren, but nevertheless edged ever closer to the championship lead. De Haan held his grid position to run fifth by the end of the opening hour, after which Cocker gained positions during the pitstop phase and remained clear of Dennis Lind, who had taken over the WPI Lamborghini from Igoe.
The #72 Barwell Lamborghini of Adam Balon and Phil Keen completed the top-five. The first stint proved eventful for Balon, who spent much of the hour either defending from behind or attacking those ahead. Ross Gunn brought the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin home fifth, showing strongly alongside Andrew Howard as a replacement for the injured Marco Sorensen. Next across the line was the #31 JRM Bentley of Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, with the #3 Century BMW shared by Dominic Paul and Ben Green completing the top-eight.
To add a little extra lustre to his standout showing, Davidson's perfect race and qualifying showings earned him the Blancpain Driver of the Weekend Award. Nicki Thiim set Sunoco Fastest Lap for the second event in succession by shaving two-tenths off his previous record in an otherwise luckless outing for TF Sport’s other Aston.
GT4: MULTIMATIC MADE TO WORK FOR IT
As was the case with Davidson and Adam, GT4’s pole position crew of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx converted their qualifying superiority into victory at Donington Park. That's where the similarities ended, however, as the #15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford ran a very different race to the #47 Aston.
Having shown brilliantly in free practice and qualifying, Maxwell faced his first significant hurdle of the weekend when he immediately slipped from the class lead to third. Josh Smith moved into top spot aboard his Tolman McLaren, while the championship-leading HHC 570S driven by Callum Pointon assumed second.
But it was clear that Maxwell's pace had not deserted him as the Canadian quickly found his way around Pointon and went in pursuit of leader Smith. The Multimatic driver closed on to the rear of Smith, but ultimately did not need to make a move as the McLaren was forced into the pits and out of contention with technical issues.
Advantage Multimatic. But any hopes of a simple run to victory ended during the pitstop phase, which saw the Ford – now driven by Priaulx – slip behind the #42 Century Motorsport BMW of Mark Kimber. Undeterred, Priaulx was able to wipe out a three-second gap and launch a sustained attack on the new leader.
Despite being among the youngest drivers on the grid, 18-year-old Priaulx showed impressive race-craft to re-take P1 with a little over 20 minutes remaining. His excellent use of the quicker GT3 cars helped him pull alongside Kimber and take the lead at the Melbourne Hairpin.
Priaulx was unchallenged from there, but Kimber would not share the podium celebrations. With less than four minutes remaining, the Englishman found himself in the gravel and lost what would have been his first podium alongside co-driver Jacob Mathiassen.
That handed runner-up spot to Pointon and Dean Macdonald, though the HHC McLaren duo's joy may have been tempered slightly by losing their championship lead to Maxwell and Priaulx. The Multimatic pairing hold sole advantage for the first time this season with 90.5 points to the HHC crew's 82. The final spot on the GT4 podium went to the #5 Tolman McLaren of Lewis Proctor and Jordan Collard, ensuring that the Warwickshire squad enjoyed some success following the misfortunes that befell its #4 entry.
Fourth across the line was the leading Pro/Am contender, as Multimatic completed a perfect weekend thanks to the #19 Ford shared by Sir Chris Hoy and Billy Johnson. The class’ opening stint was led by the #11 Beechdean Aston of Kelvin Fletcher, but his advantage was wiped out by a 15s success penalty carried over from Silverstone. Hoy remained in contention during the first stint and handed over to Johnson in a strong position to challenge for victory, which the American driver achieved in fine style.
Fifth place went to the #97 TF Sport Aston of Ashley Hand and Tom Canning, who overcame a 10s Success Penalty. They were followed by Pro/Am podium finishers Martin Plowman in the #11 Beechdean Aston and the #77 Fox Motorsport Mercedes-AMG of Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst. Close behind them, the #20 Balfe McLaren shared by Graham Johnson and Michael O'Brien was just half a second in arrears as the Pro/Am class once again produced a competitive battle up to the chequered flag.
British GT returns to action in four weeks' time with its annual away days at Spa-Francorchamps (July 20/21).