British GT Silverstone Preview – All to play for in the Big One, while one driver will take on two cars

The British GT series rolls into Silverstone for the longest race of the season just two weeks after the two sprint races at Snetterton.

Aston Martin dominated in the GT3 class with two victories including the #11 TF Sport crew of Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim in Race One, while Derek Johnston and Marco Sorensen in the #17 Aston held off a late charge from the #99 Beechdean crew of Darren Turner and Andrew Howard in Race Two.

There are fourteen GT3 crews at Silverstone this weekend, with Balfe Motorsport’s McLaren returning this weekend and one-off appearances from Ultimate Speed’s Aston Martin team and another Mercedes in Team ABBA Racing.

Points-and-a-half are on offer in the British GT’s Big One, where five different crews have won five races in 2018, with the #116 Mercedes of Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman leading the overall GT3 class by just 4.5 points after a tough weekend in Norfolk.

Like the ERC Sport Mercedes, the second in the championship #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini crew of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen do not have to serve a success penalty in the first mandatory pitstop.

Such is the closeness of the GT3 category that the top seven crews are separated by less than the 37.5 points available this weekend.

The #99 Beechdean Aston Martin is 12 points behind in third, with the #17 of Johnston and Sorensen and the #11 of Farmer and Thiim following close behind.

The Optimum Aston crew of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam are still in touch in sixth, while technical issues meant that Iain Loggie and Callum Macleod slipped to seventh in #7 Bentley.

Meanwhile, the GT4 championship race is as closely fought as the GT3 counterparts after Tolman Motorsport’s #56 crew of Joe Osbourne and David Pattison took the spoils in Race One and a dramatic Race Two win for the #42 Century Motorsport BMW of Ben Tuck and Ben Green.

Five different crews have won five races this season, and half a point separates the leading #55 Ginetta crew of Callum Pointon and Patrik Matthiesen leading the #4 McLaren duo of Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg.

Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones are next after three straight podiums and the #42 Century BMW of Tuck and Green.

The Jaguar Invictus’ second batch of wounded, injured and sick armed forces veterans make their British GT debuts this weekend when Basil Rawlinson (2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment) joins Jason Wolfe in the #22 F-TYPE SVR and Paul Vice (42 Commando Royal Marines) teams up with Matthew George aboard #44.

It’ll be a busy weekend for George, who is also registered to race as James Holder’s co-driver in the Generation AMR Super Racing Aston Martin.

George and Holder last contested a full-season British GT programme together in 2016, which ultimately led to David Appleby Engineering – which runs the V8 Vantage – overseeing 2018’s Jaguar project. George will therefore split his weekend between both cars and swap between them during the race, before a lie down after the race.

GT4: Race One Glory for #56 Tolman McLaren, while last gasp victory in Race Two for the #42 Century Motorsport BMW

Joe Osborne took the chequered flag in Race One for the #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren to take their first win of the season, while in Race Two the #42 BMW Century Motorsport piloted by Ben Tuck and Ben Green rescued a late victory after being spun early in the race.

Victory in the #56 McLaren also driven by David Pattison exceeded expectations for Osborne.

“I’m absolutely delighted, especially when you don’t expect it at the start of the race. I always have an expectation, position that we’d be happy with and pre-race I’d have been super-happy with a top five.

“With the Safety Car and David’s start, I changed those expectations to third, a podium was on the cards and the pitstop worked out so cleanly for us. I had to bring it home, manage it, do all the boring bits and not mess up.”

After that good fortune from a Safety Car lasting almost eight minutes right up until the opening of the pit window, Osborne is hopeful that the #56’s luck is changing.

“The Safety Car brought us into contention. You get your luck, last year we lost out in the Safety Car with a huge lead, things have maybe righted themselves.

“I’d like it to be sign of things turning, bad luck is pretty boring and tends to follow you for a long time, and good luck comes and seems to disappear earlier. It definitely sets us up for a good second half of the season although it’s only the third weekend.”

After victory at Snetterton, Osborne is now expecting more of a challenge from an entry that has not started with momentum in 2018.

“It’s difficult. Success penalties with a podium stops you getting on a mega-roll for the next race, you’re shot in the kneecaps but I still haven’t changed my expectations from the start of the season to try and win the Pro/Am class and be in the mix for the top three overall. This definitely helps my predictions more than the first two weekends. Hopefully we carry this on.”

In GT4 it was a last-minute move that won the day for Century Motorsport for Ben Tuck, after teammate Green hit strife when tagged into a spin shortly before the pitstops.

“I thought that was it,” he began.

“We had three instances of contact in the first stint, worked hard to get up to the front and I kept pushing even as the car didn’t feel good after the contact, Ben did a great second half of the race.

“I am absolutely delighted, so so happy. You get spun off, in the grass, facing the wrong way and think it’s all over.  You just have to keep pushing no matter what happens.”

Both men praised the two-hour sprint format in use for the final time this season in Norfolk.

Green believes that the extra race means more chances for a big result.

“The two-race format means more opportunities to do well, you can have a poor one in the first one but still dominate in the second like we did. But, a two-hour race is much harder because there’s less flexibility.”

Tuck confessed to having more motivation for the shorter races this weekend.

“The shorter races make you want it more because you have less time to get the job done. With the longer races it’s about managing tyres and looking after the car a lot more, it’s a good mix and good to have both in the championship.

BMW’s second driver was delighted with the manner of his late victory, as he took his maiden British GT win.

“The second group out was the Ams so I could pick them off a little easier, and up against the other silver cars the McLaren was struggling on the tyres at the end.

“That is one of my favourite ever moves to be honest, seeing as it got us a win in the British GT for the very first time. It’s definitely one for the memories.”

And Tuck believes there’s more to come, with the BMW outfit having improved as the season has gone on.

“Winning it late is a different buzz, definitely. It’s a great feeling anyway because this season BMW and Century have done a great job, we’ve been learning and developing a lot more and getting better and better. It’s all come out on top here this weekend, doing it right at the end does create a different buzz because you know you have to do it. It’s almost do or die.”

BRITISH GT: GT3 Sunday Round Up. Race One Win and Double Podium for Thiim/Farmer, Howard makes Johnston sweat in Race Two

Aston Martin dominated the British GT GT3 class with two victories from Snetterton’s two sprint races on Sunday.

Nikki Thiim and Mark Farmer in the TF Sport #11 Aston Martin eased home after pole position for race one, and Farmer was relieved with his second GT victory after falling back to third.

“I made a bit of a mistake which cost me momentum. Sadly the Aston got me and the Bentley got me because of that, it went from perfection to losing out in the blink of an eye but that is how it is.

“We had a lightning driver change, we’d been practicing all morning, it was really fast and we jumped them in the pits.”

Farmer was quick to point to the guidance given to him by Thiim, a world champion at sportscar level.

“It’s massive to have a Pro driver like Nikki with you, as an Am you’re still finding your way in the sport so to have someone that can guide you an coach you is super important. I had John Barnes for a long time, to have Nikki as well, I’m extremely fortunate.

“They’re both very different, but we get on well and I’m learning a lot from him.”

After finishing well back at Rockingham with technical gremlins affecting his Aston Martin,  there’s plenty of motivation for the #11 Am driver, who conceded that the team cannot afford any more mistakes.

“We were really quick in Rockingham but had a technical issue, these things happen and our championship starts now. The competition is really tough, you can’t afford to slip up and we have at Oulton and Rockingham. We need to be flawless from now.”

Later in the afternoon, a stint-long battle between Derek Johnston’s #17 Aston and Andrew Howard in the #99 Beechdean Aston eventually went the way of the former.

Copyright © Spacesuit Media Ltd 2018. All rights reserved.  Derek Johnston was made to work hard for victory in the afternoon at Snetterton

 

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Howard had been all over Johnston and despite pushing, Johnston held on for a far from stress-free victory.

I don’t know if it was fun! That’s the hardest I’ve worked in a race I think, Andrew kept me on it and as we’re in identical cars he knows what I can do and vice versa.  That is why we go racing. For two old guys like me and him to be out there like that, that was perfect.

“I thought “What have I got to do?” because he just kept on following me through back markers. I was working harder and harder. He just never let me breathe.”

Johnston was well aware of the importance of teammate Marco Sorensen passing the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Phil Keen at the start of the race, which kept the #17 in touch with the leading #11 of Nikki Thiim.

“To pass Phil at T1 at the start was important for us, we weren’t quite as quick as the sister car early on but all in all that was great. We had a BOP (Balance of Performance) disadvantage and we thought that may affect us, but the Aston is still a good old car at seven years old.”

And the #17 Am driver praised the two-race, sprint format in use this weekend.

“Two races lets you know whether you have made a mistake on setup, you can put it right. For me, I rarely get the opportunity to take the chequered flag with a win so that was phenomenal. The best feeling in the world.”

 

British GT: Can the #116 of Mowle and Buurman keep up their Rockingham form at Snetterton?

Snetterton in Norfolk plays host to rounds four and five of the 2018 British GT series as its near three-mile “300” layout welcomes over 65 drivers across 33 cars.

Snetterton will be the last of the hour long sprint races split between Pro and Am drivers.

Yelmer Buurman and Lee Mowle surprised everyone when taking their ERC Sport Mercedes to GT3 glory to claim their first British GT win last time out at Rockingham.

Despite starting last after an accident in qualifying, Mowle looked solid during his run in a low-key Am stint while Buurman performed multiple overtakes during the second stint as others fell by the wayside.

History favours the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, with Lamborghini having won three of the last four races at Snetterton, while Aston Martin have also performed well in Norfolk in recent times with Jonny Adam won there in 2015.

The other Aston Martin squad – TMF – have also shown pace this season despite only one podium apiece for Mark Farmer/Nicki Thiim and Derek Johnstone and Marco Sorenson. TMF finished 1-3 at Snetterton last year.

In GT4, the #55 Ginetta of Callum Pointon and Patrik Matthiesen won easily in the dry race at Rockingham having fell away during wet qualifying. Matthiesen had hounded the #4 Tolman McLaren of Charlie Fagg throughout the first hour of the race.

The McLarens quick fell behind after a strong Saturday but remain second in the standings, and crucially do not have the 10s success penalty that the Ginetta will have as a result of its leading of the GT4 standings.

Another team to watch for are the UltraTek Racing Team RJN Nissans, which took their best ever result with second and fourth for Stephen Johansen and Jesse Anttila, and Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman.

Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore were third last time out at Rockingham in their Academy Motorsport #62 Aston Martin, and the team will be sure to be a threat once again.