Nicki Thiim claimed his second win at Silverstone in four weeks as he and Mark Farmer carried on TF Sport’s strong spell of recent results with two wins in two rounds of the British GT Championship.
The three-hour Silverstone 500 looked like it might not have seen the number 11 on the podium in the early stages of the event – as Farmer got spun round by Graham Davidson in the Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage – but the joy of a 180-minute race is that there is more than enough time to make up ground.
Thiim was driving like a man possessed. After slipping to the lower reaches of the GT3 class, he was scything past rivals like they were stood still, a longer stint than the second TF Sport entry – of Derek Johnston and Mark Farmer – which led the race for a time after the first round of pitstops on the hour mark allowed the Dane to get out in the lead.
The one moment it looked like the work could have been undone was at the final mandatory pitstop. Required to serve a 1o-second success penalty thanks to victory at Snetterton, Farmer pitted the Aston at the same time as the second place Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen. The Barwell car didn’t have to serve extra time in the pits and it was only some slick work from the TF Sport crew that got Thiim out ahead of Keen.
In the final stint you’d be excused for thinking you’d been transported back to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup round at the Northamptonshire circuit in mid-May with an Aston Martin powering into a strong lead – which was translated into a strong win.
Thiim’s job was made slightly easier by Keen having his mirrors filled with Jonny Adam in the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin.
The latter was enjoying a clean race with team-mate Flick Haigh as the pair kept their car out of trouble and found themselves onto the podium after starting the race sixth. However, they couldn’t steal away second. Keen was well aware of Adam’s strengths under braking and smart driving, combined with having to dodge in-and-out of GT4 traffic, allowed the Lamborghini crew to take the runner-up spot.
Finishing just off the podium was the pole-sitting Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 of Ricardo Sánchez and Struan Moore. The pair enjoyed a strong opening stint, with British GT debutant Sánchez holding his own at the front of the field, but a seat mechanism issue during Moore’s first stint stopped him from being able to reach the GT-R’s pedals and a pitstop to fix the problem dropped them down the order.
However, they did benefit from a post-race penalty for the Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris – the latter returning to British GT five minutes before his first scheduled stint in the car after food poisoning for regular co-driver Ryan Ratcliffe. The pair did a great job to move up from last twice, once for a penalty for swapping Ratcliffe and Morris, and another because of a spin for Parfitt, but a two-place penalty for a yellow flag infringement dropped them to sixth.
Fifth went to Sørensen and Johnston as their 20-second success penalty ruled them out of the podium battle. Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker finished just behind them on the road in seventh, having lost ground to the top five after a mid-race spin amid a fierce battle with the eventual race winner.
The returning McLaren of Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell was eighth, with Beechdean AMR and ERC Sport rounding out the top ten. Lee Mowle – driver of the latter – complained earlier in the weekend of being a ‘sitting duck’ on the straights in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Century Motorsport proved once again that the BMW M4 GT4 is a growing threat in the junior category as Aleksander Schjerpen and Jack Mitchell claimed the class victory after some great pit work on their final driver change.
Assisted by a 20-second success penalty for Snetterton winners – and team-mates – Ben Green and Ben Tuck, the pair fought their way up from 13th to be on the tail of the Bens at the last stop and closed in so much that the penalty allowed them to get out ahead.
However, their battle was also helped by the retirement of the pole-sitting Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S of Finlay Hutchinson and Daniel McKay. They were leading by 35 seconds at the start of the third hour, but a suspension failure robbed them of what would have been a well-deserved victory.
Also missing out on what would have been a great result was the second Century BMW of Tuck. Running in the podium positions going into the closing minutes of the race, he was first robbed of third place by Matt Nicoll-Jones in the front-running Academy Motorsport Aston Martin and then lost another place to Patrik Matthiesen in the HHC Ginetta.
Nicoll-Jones didn’t have chance to get comfortable in third though as Matthiesen smelt blood and barged his way past to take the position on the run to the line. However, a post-race penalty for gaining an unfair advantage dropped the Ginetta team back down to fourth.
Lewis Proctor and Jordan Albert had no such issues in the Tolman Motorsport McLaren. After a great start for Proctor moved the pair up from seventh to second, consistent running allowed them to add to their Snetterton podium success.
Adding to the variety of the top six was the UltraTek Racing Nissan 370Z of Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman who took advantage of Jan Jonck and Tom Wood meeting a smokey end in the second Academy Aston with five minutes to go to take sixth in class alongside their Pro-Am win.
Second in Pro-Am went to the Generation AMR Aston Martin of Matthew George and James Holder. They were looking good for the Pro-Am win before a late drive-through penalty dropped them to second – seventh overall.
The next round of the British GT Championship is at Spa-Francorchamps on July 21/22, forming part of the SRO Speed Week which builds up to the Spa 24 Hours.
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