Adam Balon and Phil Keen took a comprehensive victory for Barwell Motorsport in the first British GT race at Snetterton as the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo team won by more than 13 seconds following a dominant stint for Keen.
GT4 victory went the way of Steller Performance, the Audi R8 LMS GT4 team were the class of the field as Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding unleashed the German muscle to good effect.
The start of the race proved to be typically chaotic as the field bunched up heading round the tight Wilson Hairpin. Pole-sitter Tom Gamble went into the right-hander in the lead, but in short time a nudge from Sam De Haan meant he lost momentum and, with De Haan also running wide, Team Parker Racing’s Glynn Geddie nipped up the inside to snatch two positions and elevate the Bentley Continental GT3 into the lead.
De Haan had slipped to third in the coming together, but lost more time as he was tipped into a spin by Dominic Paul in the #3 Century Motorsport BMW M6 at the hairpin. Paul got a stop/go penalty for the move, but not before he lost more time by himself, pirouetting at the Hamilton corner.
The action at the front heated up just before half-distance when the pit window opened. With a number of the Am drivers choosing to stop immediately, there was a long train of cars all squabbling for the lead.
After a great recovery from Gamble, the queue was headed by Jack Mitchell in the #9 Century BMW but he was immediately under pressure from Keen who made sure the Barwell Lamborghini was right underneath Mitchell’s rear-wing, disregarding the pressure Bradley Ellis was applying on him in the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
It was shaping up to be a race-long battle between the trio, but Mitchell ground to a halt heading into the hairpin with an unknown fault with his M6, Ellis also lot ground after he had to serve a one-second stop/go penalty for a short pitstop. That released Keen into clear air and he made the most of it.
Just three laps after Mitchell’s technical issue – which he appeared to fix on-track to eventually finish 11th – Keen had opened up a gap of six seconds in the Huracán and continued to grow his advantage as he enjoyed a trouble-free run to the chequered flag.
His escape was aided by a ferocious battle for second. After Mitchell and Ellis’s misfortunes, Ryan Ratcliffe moved up to second in the Bentley he shared with early race leader Geddie but was under pressure from TF Sport’s Jonny Adam for the majority of his stint.
Adam tried everything he could muster to get past Ratcliffe, but ran wide on the entry to the Bentley Straight and allowed Seb Morris – in the JRM Group Bentley Continental GT3 – into third and was quickly under pressure from Jonny Cocker in the #69 Barwell Lamborghini.
The Scot managed to hold off Cocker, despite running wide and briefly falling behind the Huracán driver at Oggies, and was gifted a spot on the podium on the final lap.
That was due to Morris getting caught out by a GT4 Aston Martin at Coram on the final lap. The Welshman ran straight into the back of the Aston and had his bonnet completely obscuring his vision, he was forced to slow down and that allowed Adam and Cocker to breeze past him on the run to the chequered flag with Morris eventually claiming fifth.
Morris’s late collision was a god send to Ratcliffe, who told GT REPORT that he had braking problems throughout his stint.
“I had no brakes at all, so I was really struggling in the slower corners because I was having to start braking so much earlier,” he said.
“It was nothing too major, it was just the ABS warning light coming on occasionally during Glynn’s stint and then pretty much all the time during mine. These cars are full of electronics, I’m sure it’ll be sorted for race two.”
Failing to finish the first race was the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou after the former was caught out at the start. With the field ahead suddenly checking up, Neary appeared to run out of room and hit the rear of another GT3 car, breaking the Mercedes’ radiator.
Making its debut this weekend, the Audi R8 of Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding was immediately the class of the field, with the pair near-enough untroubled through the 60-minute race, the only action coming from Fielding having to pick his way back up to the lead after losing a few positions during the pitstop.
Fielding crossed the line with an advantage of 3.6s over the Silver Cup winning Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S of James Dorlin and Josh Smith after a solid race for the pair on a track that seems to suit the British car.
That advantage for the McLarens was emphasised by the sister Tolman car finishing third in the hands of Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor with Dean Macdonald securing fourth for the HHC-entered 570S alongside Callum Pointon.
Michael Broadhurst broke the McLaren monopoly in the Fox Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 as he took fifth, but he was just 0.147s ahead of Tom Jackson in the second HHC McLaren.
The second British GT race gets underway at 15.25 UK time (16.25 CET). You can watch the livestream here.