Jonny Adam and Graham Davidson have taken their second British GT Championship win of the season to set-up a three-way fight for the title at the final round of the season in September with the top three separated by just 11.5 points.
The GT4 fight proved to be just as exciting with the championship decider also set to be decided at the traditional Donington Park decider as James Dorlin and Josh Smith took their first win of the season in the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S with the championship contenders finishing on the podium to maintain the status quo.
Davidson’s strong start allowed the TF Sport racer to claim second at the rather chaotic rolling start and set about defending from pole-sitter Shaun Balfe, the McLaren driver slipping from first to third thanks to Ollie Wilkinson’s rapid start from the outside of the front-row heading into Paddock Hill Bend.
The lead battle stabilised for a time, as Wilkinson pulled away from Davidson, with the latter also establishing breathing space over Balfe who was having to defend from a hard-charging Angus Fender in the Century Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.
There was no time to make any moves though as two incidents in quick succession shook up the front-end of the race with just 20 minutes of the race gone.
Initially, the safety car was called for to recover Glynn Geddie’s Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 as he crashed hard at Westfield having tangled with Ben Hurst’s Academy Motorsport Aston Martin while trying to lap the Canadian.
At almost the same time further ahead, Wilkinson spun coming through Paddock Hill having put a wheel on the gravel. He managed to hold it and not complete a full spin, but was fortunate not to be collected by a rival as he went sideways across the track. Despite his quick recovery, he fell to fourth with Davidson inheriting the lead as he picked his way through the throng of cars weaving to avoid the slow Optimum Motorsport car.
That 20-minute safety car period calmed down the race as the action reached the pit lane and when the pros took over, the action was slow to reignite.
However, reignite it did. With Adam safely pulling down the road, Rob Bell – who took over the Balfe McLaren – was fending off attacks from Fender’s replacement Jack Mitchell who was harrying the McLaren factory driver in an effort to get through.
Also engaged in their own skirmish were Barwell Motorsport team-mates, and championship protagonists, Jonny Cocker and Phil Keen. Cocker was lying fourth after strong opening stint from Sam De Haan while Keen was making progress up the field after Adam Balon’s steady start and was sitting in fifth.
The pair battled throughout the final 30 minutes of the race, with Keen not finding a way through – a combination of not wanting to hit his team-mate and having to deal with a lot of GT4 traffic.
That all changed on the final lap though. Keen spotted a gap on Cocker’s inside going through Westfield Bend and squeezed his way up to fourth. Cocker – trying to stay with his team-mate – lost momentum and slipped down the order as he negotiated the Grand Prix Loop in his Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
Thanks to a chain of cars sitting behind the squabbling pair – namely the Dennis Lind-driven WPI Motorsport Lamborghini, Tom Onslow-Cole’s Team ABBA Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Nicki Thiim’s TF Sport Aston Martin – Cocker crossed the line in eighth.
As a result, the top of the championship has been given a thorough makeover as Cocker and De Haan have slipped from first to third on 110.5 points. Leaping into the lead is Balon and Keen who have gone up to 122 points, but the biggest movers are Davidson and Adam whose haul of 37.5 points has taken them from fourth to second on 116 points.
After the race, Adam told GT REPORT the win was vital: “It was a clean race and a win that we really needed. It’s mean we’re going into Donington Park with a good chance, our last win was at Donington, the car goes well there and Graham really likes the track as well.
“Before this weekend, we’d never ran the new Vantage at Brands Hatch. During my stint there were weird, strange, noises coming from the car but I think you always hear that when you’re leading and have a big gap!”
Rounding out the podium was the Balfe car, claiming it’s third podium of the season, with Fender and Mitchell securing third – Century Motorsport’s first podium of the season and the first podium in British GT for the BMW M6 GT3.
In GT4, a post-race penalty for Seb Priaulx and Scott Maxwell for a pit infringement has thrown the top of the standings wide open thanks to podiums for both of their title rivals.
The pair had finished on the podium but were given additional time, in lieu of a drive-through penalty and slipped to ninth overall. Prior to that, the Multimatic Ford Mustang drivers had driven a solid race as they progressed from P10 up into the outer reaches of the podium.
They were running fourth until the closing stages of the race when brake failure on Will Moore’s Academy Motorsport Aston Martin – in a unlucky race for the team – put him into the barriers at Druids.
Moore was leading after some great strategy work from the team. Co-driver Alex Toth-Jones ran longer in his opening stint and when a safety car was called for just after the hour-mark to clear up debris on the run down to Clearways, the team called him in for a stop and managed to minimise their time loss.
After the crash, Dorlin inherited the lead in the Tolman McLaren with another McLaren 570S – that of Dean Macdonald and HHC Motorsport – moving into second. Macdonald was closing in on the back of Dorlin but with the sister Tolman car of Jordan Collard running in between them – albeit a lap down – Macdonald couldn’t make a strong challenge for first.
The pair crossed the line with less than half-a-second between them, with Priaulx further back in third. However, after the race the Mustang racers were slapped with a 30-second time penalty which promoted the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin of Ash Hand and Tom Canning onto the podium.
Their promotion has also helped them limit the damage to their championship lead, with the Vantage racers holding an 8.5 point advantage over Macdonald and his team-mate Callum Pointon. Priaulx and Maxwell have slipped back into third, with 105.5 points, 3.5 behind Macdonald and Pointon and 12.5 behind the championship leaders.
Taking fourth in the adjusted standings was the Century BMW M4 GT4 of team boss Nathan Freke and Andrew Gordon-Colbrooke. The former took over from the promoted Fender and showed great form on his return, managing his race perfectly to deny Pro-Am class winners Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher the opportunity to take fourth overall.
The final round of the British GT season takes place at Donington Park on September 14 & 15.