+ Optimum’s Clark and Brown extend points’ advantage with comfortable GT4 win
+ Race 2 Result
RAM Racing’s John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello prevailed in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s second race of the day at Snetterton, but only by 0.042s from James Cottingham and Jonny Adam (2 Seas Motorsport).
What had been a fairly benign opening stint gave way to a scintillating final 20 minutes in which Ferguson, Cottingham, Ian Loggie and latterly Simon Orange went wheel-to-wheel for victory after Beechdean AMR’s hopes were dashed by a one-second stop-go penalty.
Loggie and his 2 Seas co-driver Jules Gounon ultimately completed a top-three covered by 0.4s.
Further back, Optimum’s McLaren survived contact with Toro Verde's Mike Simpson and a subsequent spin to score its second win of the season that increased Charles Clark and Jack Brown’s grip on the overall class standings.
DTO’s McLaren sustained significant rear-end damage at the start but still came through to finish second in the hands of Josh Rowledge and Aston Millar, while R Racing’s Seb Hopkins and Josh Miller collected their second overall podium on the day.
Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato won GT4’s Pro-Am class by finishing fourth overall, and there was a second GT3 Silver-Am in succession for Sky Tempesta’s Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt.
GT3: Ferguson RAMs it home to win again at Snetterton
John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello won one of the tightest British GT races in history, with Ferguson surviving intense late pressure in what became a frantic four-car fight to the finish.
The RAM Racing duo started from third on the grid, with Swiss ace Marciello holding the place during what was a largely static first half, but when the amateur drivers took over for part two the race became an absolute thriller.
The Garage 59 McLaren of Alexander West and Marvin Kirchhoefer had qualified on pole on Saturday but the car was withdrawn before the start, promoting Beechdean AMR’s Ross Gunn to P1 ahead of Mercedes-AMG aces Jules Gounon and Marciello.
Gunn got a decent launch to head Gounon and Marciello into Riches. Marciello then showed his nose up the inside at Wilson when Gounon ran deep, but the #1 Mercedes-AMG recovered to hold the spot and begin what became a stalemate between the top three over the first 30 minutes.
Cue the pit window, which shook things up considerably. The leading trio stopped together and also rejoined in the same sequence with their Am drivers onboard. Like Gunn, Andrew Howard appeared fairly comfortable up front until Beechdean AMR’s pitstop was confirmed to be one second short of the minimum time. The resulting stop-go dropped the car down to sixth and initially promoted Ian Loggie into the lead before Ferguson pulled off an impressive pass on the brakes into Murrays.
Things were far from settled, though. As Ferguson defended from Loggie, it allowed James Cottingham to join the party aboard the second 2 Seas car. Jonny Adam had held fifth during the opening half and, with no Compensation Time to serve, his newly installed co-driver was able to make the lead a three-way Mercedes-AMG scrap.
Loggie got a run on Ferguson down the pit straight, but Ferguson defended hard, the cars rubbing and giving Cottingham a chance to pull off a great around-the-outside pass on his team-mate for second at Riches. Cottingham didn’t stop there and repeatedly attacked Ferguson for the lead, only to be rebuffed at every opportunity as the final quarter of the race ticked away.
The Orange Racing by JMH McLaren then made it four at the front, with Simon Orange showing impressive pace to climb up the order after Michael O’Brien chose to stop early in a quiet pitlane. Orange managed to squeeze past Loggie on the brakes into Wilson to grab third, only for Loggie to fight back when Orange ran wide at Riches attempting to pass Cottingham.
The leading quartet began their last lap with barely a GT3 lap time remaining, Ferguson still just clinging on ahead of the charging Cottingham. One final attack out of Murrays got Cottingham alongside Ferguson, but the cars crossed the line just as the clock hit zero, finalising the result in RAM’s favour by only 0.042s. The entire top four was covered by just 0.7s in one of the most breathless British GT finishes in history. It also mirrored Ferguson’s first GT3 victory, which was taken at this track last season.
Darren Leung and Dan Harper claimed a distant fifth having served Compensation Time on their stop for finishing second earlier in the day, while Mike Price and Callum Macleod secured sixth in their Greystone GT-run Mercedes-AMG. Matt Topham and Marcus Clutton were seventh for Enduro Motorsport, ahead of Silver-Am winners Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt who completed an impressive class double to extend their championship lead in the Sky Tempesta Racing McLaren. Race one winners, Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell, were ninth for Barwell having served the maximum Compensation Time at their pitstop.
Beechdean appeared on course for sixth at worst until a further time penalty for speeding in the pits dropped the car outside of the top 10.
GT4: Clark and Brown survive a scare to score for Optimum
Charles Clark and Jack Brown’s second GT4 victory of the season – one achieved by 9.5s – looked simple enough on paper. But it was anything but for an Optimum McLaren that had been facing the wrong direction midway through the opening stint.
Clark started from pole, which kept him clear of an incident directly behind that saw Freddie Tomlinson hit the rear of DTO’s McLaren as the pack went through a concertina effect into turn one. But while Raceway’s race one-winning Ginetta was out almost on the spot, Rowledge somehow lived to fight another day despite continuing without the majority of his car’s diffuser.
Further ahead, the top two had broken clear of Lewis Plato but remained locked together thanks to Mike Simpson’s persistence. Clark was able to maintain a narrow lead over Toro Verde’s Ginetta until their fight came to a head – and blows – entering the Wilson hairpin where the McLaren was half-spun around.
Simpson assumed the lead before a 10-second stop-go dropped the car out of the fight.
The incident acted to close-up the order, with Clark recovering quickly to continue, but with a much-reduced advantage over the chasing Century Motorsport BMW. With the car being a Pro-Am entry, its shorter pitstop helped Carl Cavers leapfrog into the lead after the mid-race changeovers, but he simply could not resist the charging Brown who passed the M4 to score his second win at Snetterton in as many seasons.
Rowledge and Aston Millar also made progress after the pitstops to finish second in their battle-scarred Artura, while R Racing’s Aston Martin completed the podium for the second time on Sunday after Seb Hopkins built on Josh Miller’s early work by displacing Cavers late on.
The BMW he shares with Plato did however hang on to fourth overall to secure the Pro-Am victory ahead of Ian Duggan and Joe Wheeler’s Toro Verde Ginetta. RACE LAB’s Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley rounded out both the overall top six and Pro-Am podium in their McLaren.
Ed McDermott and Michael Broadhurst were seventh in the One Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, with Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld taking eighth in the second Century Motorsport BMW. Enduro Motorsport’s Harry George and Darren Burke were ninth in their Artura, with Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones completing the top 10 in Academy Motorsport’s #62 Ford Mustang.
Next up, British GT heads to Portugal and specifically the Autodromo do Algarve which hosts this year’s second three-hour enduro on July 22-23.