Coming into the penultimate British GT round of the season at Brands Hatch, Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris knew what they had to: beat the number 33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and the title fight would go on to the final race of the year.
They didn’t just beat Barwell’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, they annihilated them. Winning by more than 30 seconds–and with the Lamborghini crew only finishing fifth–Team Parker Racing Bentley’s Parfitt and Morris have taken the championship lead for the first time in 2017.
That lead is 10.5 points, the difference between taking a win and finishing as runner-up at the final round at Donington Park. Before that, though, there was the matter of a two-hour race at Brands Hatch to deal with.
Immediately it was apparent that Barwell were not going to have it their own way but the threat to their lead on the opening lap wasn’t from the Bentley, it was from the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Macmillan AMR which had started alongside Minshaw on the front-row at the hands of James Littlejohn.
Indeed, Littlejohn got his nose ahead of the Huracán at Paddock Hill Bend, but Minshaw held his nerve and at the right-hander of Druids he swooped back into the lead.
While this was all happening, there was a battle erupting for third place in GT4, itself the subject of an intense title battle between HHC Motorsport and Lanan Racing. It was those two cars, who race Ginetta G55 GT4s, who were locked in battle with another Ginetta–the orange, black and white entry of Century Motorsport.
Stuart Middleton in the HHC car, Alex Reed in the Lanan car and Formula Ford star Niall Murray in the Century entry battled hammer and tongs for most of the opening 20 minutes, and their squabbling allowed Sandy Mitchell and Will Moore to pull away in the leading Garage 59 McLaren and Academy Motorsport Aston Martin.
The GT3 class had its own share of squabbling as Minshaw’s race started to unravel before his eyes. Overtaken for the lead by Littlejohn, he soon found himself relegated to third as a storming Rick Parfitt–feeling the ill effects of his Crohn’s Disease more than usual over the Brands weekend–quickly dispatched the green and red Lamborghini.
After a brief safety car period to recover the second-in-GT4 Academy Aston after it had an engine failure, the race got even worse for Barwell as Mark Farmer–who was on pace all weekend in the TF Sport Aston Martin–claimed a spot on the podium. To add insult to injury, Minshaw finished his 60-minute stint in fifth as the second Barwell Lamborghini of team-mate Liam Griffin claimed fourth place.
Just after the hour mark, Seb Morris–himself suffering from a sickness bug–took over the Team Parker Bentley from the lead and set about ensuring no one could get near him as he immediately set the fastest lap and disappeared down the road.
With Morris gone, even the battle behind tended to fall on the quieter side of things as Sam Tordoff–who had taken over from Liam Griffin in the second Huracán–found himself comfortably ahead of Jon Barnes in the TF Sport Aston he had taken over from Farmer.
One car that was going backwards was the Macmillan AMR Aston which was been driven by James Littlejohn. Handed over to Jack Mitchell, the car suffered from an ECU issue not long into his stint and the car finished last of the machines still running.
Further into the second hour of the race, Aston Martin ace Jonny Adam moved up to fourth with a great move on Phil Keen entering the Cooper Straight and the Pro driver in the green and red Lamborghini couldn’t do anything to reverse the move. In a very uncharacteristic race from Keen–who is normally the man to beat – he seemed to settle for fifth, perhaps aware that it was more important to bag points and take the fight to the final round rather than throwing it all away.
That tame finish in GT3 allowed GT4 to take the limelight as Jan Jonck, who had taken over Macmillan AMR’s GT4 Aston Martin from William Phillips, ducked and dived past erstwhile leaders Garage 59 McLaren–which Sandy Mitchell had handed over to Ciaran Haggerty–to claim the lead for themselves with just 16 minutes left on the clock.
Joe Osborne, in the Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S, was the next person to get past Haggerty–this time at Druids–as he looked to claim his first class win of the season in the car he shares with David Pattison. However, Jonck was well aware of Osborne’s charge and stepped up his own pace, crossing the line with 2.4 seconds in hand to claim the team’s first GT4 victory of the season.
For Haggerty, things got worse on the penultimate lap as he tried to push worn tyres beyond their limit and found himself in the barrier at the top of Paddock Hill Bend.
That allowed Will Tregurtha to claim a spot on the podium for championship leaders HHC Motorsport who extended their lead over Lanan Racing, as the latter lost several laps repairing a broken steering arm and finished outside the points.
The final round of the British GT Championship takes place at Donington Park on September 23 and 24.
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