Sam De Haan’s pressure paid off as he swept past Richard Neary with just ten minutes remaining on the clock to take victory in a heavily disrupted second British GT Championship race at Oulton Park.
The Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driver applied the pressure to the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver for the length of his stint in the second half of the one-hour race and when Neary ran wide at the Hislop’s Chicane, De Haan took his chance and blasted off to a comfortable victory.
However, that doesn’t tell the full story of a race dominated by two lengthy safety car periods which disrupted the race. The first was for Michael Broadhurst’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 which became stuck in the gravel at Cascades, with the second to recover Mark Farmer’s TF Sport Aston Martin which was beached on the side of the track.
With more than 20 minutes spent under caution, the action was briefer than expected but no less intense.
At the start, second-placed Callum Macleod was eased wide at the Old Hall turn one to drop to fourth – allowing Neary’s team-mate Adam Christodoulou and race one winner Seb Morris to move up to second and third.
That’s how the order stayed until the mid-race pitstops. When the Pro drivers swapped for the Ams the action started to kick up a gear, Farmer’s spin through the grass, before trying to recover to the track and accidentally beaching his Vantage.
After the safety car, even more GT3 runners encountered trouble as Rick Parfitt went off in the JRM Group Bentley before managing to get pushed back onto the asphalt while Graham Davidson also ended up in the tyre barriers after a last lap off in the TF Sport Aston Martin.
The crews involved in the lead battle though were fighting tooth-and-nail. While De Haan opened up a semi-comfortable lead, Neary found himself under pressure from Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard. The former champion was pushing hard but Neary was comfortable in providing a stubborn defence to the Aston driver, who had to settle for third.
His cause was helped by Adam Balon, who had taken over from early race leader Phil Keen in the second Barwell Lamborghini, filling the mirrors of the number 99. Balon seemed to be making up ground on Howard but never had the chance to snatch away a place on the podium – eventually finishing fourth.
GT4 proved just as action-packed as the number 15 Multimatic Ford Mustang of Seb Priaulx and Scott Maxwell fought back from dropping to fifth to secure the car’s first win in Europe – despite the unnecessary obstruction by Ben Hurst in the number 61 Academy Aston Martin who refused to let himself be lapped.
His blocking didn’t hamper Maxwell’s lead though, as the American muscled his way through and held off the attacks of Graham Johnson in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S after a stint filled with using the Mustang’s extra muscle to pick his way back up into contention.
Third, and a second trophy of the day, went to Invictus Games Racing as Steve McCulley had another strong race partnering an equally rapid Matty George in the Jaguar F-Type SVR. His place on the overall podium was secured after Nick Jones, in the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, spun unaided out of the lead.
Thankfully for Jones, and co-driver Scott Malvern, their fourth overall was still good enough for third on the Pro/Am podium after strong work early on by Malvern to keep the car in contention in the face of tough competition from the Silver Cup entries.
The third and fourth rounds of the British GT Championship take place at Snetterton with another pair of one-hour races on May 18 & 19.