Race 2: Paddock and Newbridge win on corrected times following mid-race stoppage at Oulton
Kelvin Fletcher’s late race charge helped Paddock Motorsport and Martin Plowman claim their first Intelligent Money British GT Championship victories at Oulton Park this afternoon despite their McLaren finishing third on the road.
There was a similar scenario in GT4 where Matt Topham and Darren Turner’s Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin beat Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding despite finishing behind the Steller Motorsport Audi.
The 25-minute dash for victory occurred when a mid-race downpour just as GT3’s pit window opened and the subsequent stoppage to recover two stranded cars prevented either class from completing their pitstop cycles. Race Control restarted the race with new drivers installed, tyres changed and cars in the order from one lap before GT3’s window had opened. That meant the top-three in both classes from Race 1, as well as GT4’s Silver Cup entries, would have their Success Penalties and additional Silver pitstop time added to the final result.
Thus RAM Racing’s ‘winning’ Mercedes-AMG shared by Ian Loggie and Jules Gounon, which should have served an extra seven seconds in the pits for finishing second in Race 1, dropped from first to fifth on corrected times behind Paddock, Team Abba Racing’s Silver-Am class winners Richard and Sam Neary, Sky Tempesta Racing’s Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt, and Team Rocket RJN’s Graham Davidson and James Kell.
Balfe Motorsport’s Audi, which crossed the line second, was classified sixth as a result of its 10s Success Penalty.
Further back, Steller’s Audi dropped to third in class behind Newbridge – which also claimed Pro-Am honours – and Century’s BMW shared by Jack Brown and reigning champion Will Burns.
The race result remains provisional subject to RAM Racing’s appeal.
GT3: FLETCHER AND PLOWMAN WALTZ FROM 14TH TO FIRST WIN
This afternoon’s encounter started with the top-two from Race 1, Jules Gounon and Adam Carroll, coincidentally sharing the front row, albeit with RAM’s Mercedes-AMG ahead of the winning Balfe Audi.
The top-two remained unchanged over the first two laps while behind Barwell’s Sandy Mitchell dropped to sixth after attempting to pass Carroll into Cascades. There was contact at the same corner between Will Tregurtha and Phil Keen, who was spun around by Assetto’s Bentley, while Jamie Stanley also took to the grass in avoidance.
The Safety Car was required on lap three when two GT4 cars came to blows at Shell, and racing only resumed in anger one minute before GT3’s pit window opened.
Pro drivers typically maximise their 10-minute allowance but that strategy looked set to go out the window when heavy rain suddenly swept across the circuit. Some teams, like Balfe, elected to pit immediately while others – including RAM – stayed out. Moments later the race was stopped when Jamie Caroline and Lewis Proctor both crashed heavily on slick tyres in the deteriorating conditions.
Racing resumed 30 minutes later with the Am drivers lining up in the order from before GT3’s pit window opened, albeit with Success Penalties still to be served post-race. Ian Loggie and Shaun Balfe therefore had to finish seven and 10 seconds, respectively, ahead of the chasing pack to maintain their one-two.
That initially looked possible as Mia Flewitt’s 7TSIX McLaren gradually fell away from the second place Audi. But when first Morgan Tillbrook encountered an electrical problem and then Adam Balon served a penalty Paddock’s McLaren – which qualified 14th – was suddenly in play. And it wasn’t long before Fletcher was past Flewitt and in hot pursuit of the leaders.
Indeed, his initial 10s deficit had reduced to a tantalising 7.1s with two minutes remaining before heavy GT4 traffic helped to comfortably overturn Loggie’s advantage on corrected times.
That also played a role in Team Abba Racing’s Richard Neary stealing second on the final tour after Flewitt’s stout defence of fourth place was ended two laps from home. She and co-driver Euan Hankey were ultimately shuffled down to ninth after losing momentum while lapping a GT4 car.
Instead, Kevin Tse also took advantage of Loggie and Balfe’s extra time to salvage a podium in the Sky Tempesta Racing Mercedes-AMG he shares with Chris Froggatt despite starting 17th.
Graham Davidson and James Kell also made amends for their Race 1 retirement from a strong position by clinching fourth in Team Rocket RJN’s McLaren, which was the final car to finish ahead of the reclassified RAM and Balfe entries.
WPI’s Lamborghini recovered to finish seventh, Redline’s Alex Malykhin and James Dorlin completed the top eight and Fox Motorsport’s McLaren dropped one place to 10th as a result of Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley’s post-race five-second Success Penalty.
GT4: TOPHAM AND TURNER TAKE TOPSY-TURVY WIN
At the end of a turbulent, weather-afflicted second race, the Pro-Am pairing of Matt Topham and Darren Turner emerged victorious for Newbridge Motorsport – just as they were at Oulton last year.
The Aston Martin duo came out on top in an enthralling, arm’s length scrap with the Steller Motorsport Audi crew of Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams, which started out tight and then became a frantic race against the clock after the mid-race red flag.
Turner started on pole but Fielding made the better getaway from the other side of the front row to grab the early race lead. With a 10s Success Penalty from his Race 1 win to serve, Fielding needed to put as much distance between himself and the rest of the field to have any chance of claiming a rare double victory on the same weekend.
He and Turner began to forge a gap over the rest of the pack until a clash between Freddie Tomlinson and Moh Ritson at Shell Hairpin summoned the safety car and undid all the hard work of the top two. Racing resumed for a handful of laps, again with Fielding leading the pack, before the red flags were called for the GT3 accidents during the brief but heavy rain shower.
And that’s where things got complex. With the race director ordering a re-grid with second drivers installed, it essentially removed the GT4 pit window altogether. So not only did the Steller Audi have to account for an extra 10 seconds of Success Penalty when racing resumed, being a Silver Cup entry meant it also had an additional 14 seconds to serve over the Pro-Am Newbridge Aston behind.
That meant Richard Williams began the second half of the race in the lead on the road, but with a whopping 24 seconds to be added at the end of the race. Regardless, Williams put in a superb stint, pulling well clear of Topham – now in the Aston – and Jack Brown, who had taken the #90 Century BMW M4 over from Will Burns.
But however good Williams’ stint would be, 24 seconds ended up being too big a task, and although Steller took the chequered flag first on the road the Audi dropped to a still highly-impressive third on the adjusted result.
Topham just needed to keep it clean behind Williams to ensure the victory, with Brown being bumped up to second behind him, and first in the Silver Cup contest. Jack Mitchell and Tom Edgar were fourth in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra, with Ross Wylie and Benji Hetherington taking fifth in Valluga Racing’s Porsche Cayman.
Josh Miller and Jamie Day did a great job to overturn their own Success Penalty and claim sixth aboard the R Racing Aston Martin.
The Intelligent Money British GT Championship now moves on to its showpiece, three-hour event – the Silverstone 500 – on May 7/8 when points-and-a-half will be awarded for the first time this year.