In the heat of the moment

A couple more seconds and it might have all been different, a couple more seconds and Barwell Motorsport could have achieved their second double victory of the season, however, a short pitstop allowed reigning champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam to claim their first British GT victory since April 2016.

The red and green Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen were on-track to claim a remarkable accolade – a clean sweep of the two-in-a-day one-hour races at Snetterton. However, a drive-through penalty for a short pitstop saw them denied the opportunity to do what they did at Oulton Park at the season-opener and make the rest of the field look decidedly second-rate.

GT4 also saw honours shared as young stars Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton took their second consecutive victory with success in race one before fellow young chargers Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty claimed their first top step of the season with victory in the day’s second race.

Race one saw the benefits of Silver Cup coming to the fore as Jack Mitchell pulled away in his Macmillan AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and started to open a sizeable gap over Minshaw, who decided to pit the Lamborghini at the first opportunity he could once the window opened. That allowed Phil Keen to get in and do what Phil Keen does – find ungodly amounts of speed from nowhere and cut down a massive gap to nought. 

James Littlejohn, who had taken over the V12 Vantage, wasn’t one to be bullied though and proceeded to put on a display of defensive wizardry to hold Keen back. However, he couldn’t be held back for long and a smart move on the run to the Brundle/Nelson left-right allowed Keen to take the lead.

Littlejohn must have felt a sense of de ja vu as he looked in his mirror to see the sister Barwell Lamborghini of Sam Tordoff looking to steal second. Again a dicey battle ensued but Tordoff managed to sweep around the outside at the left-hander of Palmer. Tordoff did try to catch up to his team-mate but time wasn’t on his side and had to settle for second.

GT4 was a simpler affair with Tregurtha taking the lead from pole-sitter Alex Reed on the first lap and pulling away in the HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4. Even with a success penalty in the pits because of Tregurtha and Middleton’s success at Rockingham, David Pittard couldn’t capitalise on Reed’s work to keep in touching distance of Tregurtha and found himself staring at the back of 17-year-old Middleton’s car for the remainder of the race.

The second race, held in track temperatures verging on 40 degrees centigrade (a rarity in Britain), saw Keen given the opportunity to blast off into the distance once again but Jonny Adam, in the TF Sport Aston Martin, was giving good chase as he catapulted from the second row to second at the start.

However, even Adam couldn’t keep up with Keen and it had to go down to the half-time pitstop to try and leapfrog into the lead as  Keen and Minshaw had to serve a success penalty. But, rubbing salt in the wound somewhat, Graham Johnson’s PMW Expo Racing Ginetta would stall making its way out of its pit box and stop behind the TF Sport car, now with Derek Johnston behind the wheel, allowing Minshaw to sail out into the lead.

That though, would not be a long lead for Minshaw, a drive-through for the short stop was compounded by a safety car period just into the second half of the race bunching the field up and seeing Minshaw drop off from the lead and into the mid-top ten. That would allow Johnston to move up into the lead, with Liam Griffin a distant second.

Also benefitting majorly from the safety car was Mark Farmer in the second TF Sport Aston, who, alongside team-mate Jon Barnes, started seventh on the grid but slowly picked their way up to the final place on the podium.

The victory for Jonny Adam would see him draw level with Hector Lester and David Ashburn with 11 British GT wins to their name, another win this season and the Scot becomes the most successful driver in the championship.

In GT4, no history was made in race two but Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty will be pleased to finally have a win to their name in 2017 as the Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 pair overcame what had been a poor – by their standards – start to the year.

Victory was assured for the pair after Mitchell made the most of what must be some serious brave pills as he ran side-by-side with Will Tregurtha for the lead for almost a full lap before outbraking the Ginetta driver to sweep into the lead. 

Third place went to pole-sitters Joe Osborne and David Pattison, the Tolman Motorsport crew unable to sustain their pace after the safety car. 

The next round of the British GT Championship is the highlight of the season – the three-hour Silverstone 500 which takes place this weekend.

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A fan of GT Racing from a young age, Joe follows the trials and tribulations of sportscar and endurance racing in Britain, occasionally writing about it as well. When he's not watching motor racing, he's taking questionable landscape photos or watching cycle races.

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Joe Hudson

A fan of GT Racing from a young age, Joe follows the trials and tribulations of sportscar and endurance racing in Britain, occasionally writing about it as well. When he's not watching motor racing, he's taking questionable landscape photos or watching cycle races.