The Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s endurance race at Donington Park was won by WPI Motorsport. After taking over the #18 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo from Michael Igoe in fourth place, Andrea Caldarelli took charge of the wet and foggy race and made his way to the front where he with less than ten minutes to go took the lead.
TF Sport took a one-two victory in the GT4 class. Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble took the win after the #95 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 jumped the #97 sister car at the pitstops due to the latter’s extra Success Penalty pitstop time.
DONINGTON PARK 1: ENTRY LIST | RACE DAY FORMAT EXPLAINED | LIVE STREAM | QUALIFYING REPORT | RACE 1 REPORT | RACE 2 REPORT | INTERVIEW SCOTT MALVERN | INTERVIEW CONNOR O’BRIEN | RESULTS | GALLERY | PODCAST
After two warmup laps to get the drivers acquainted with the wet weather conditions at Donington Park, polesitter Michael O’Brien was shown the green flag as the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 immediately set about to open a gap of about two seconds in the first laps. Followed by Rob Collard in the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo and Sam De Haan in the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, the trio left the rest of the field behind.
Coming up to traffic, the gap between O’Brien and Collard quickly evaporated and the experienced Collard appeared right behind the 26-year-old McLaren driver while Sam De Haan was also rapidly closing in.
Collard took his change when coming out of Coppice, O’Brien ran wide and got two wheels in the wet grass. Losing a heap of speed as O’Brien carefully steered his McLaren back onto the tarmac, Collard picked up the lead. The McLaren lost another position when De Haan slipped through at the Melbourne Hairpin.
Also making his moves at the hairpin was Ian Loggie in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, who after closely following the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo piloted by Adam Balon for about half an hour, found his way into fifth place shortly before the pitstops.
After a staggering 79 minutes of racing, Collard finally steered the Barwell Lamborghini into the pits to hand over the car to Sandy Mitchell. The team pushed its pitstop as late as possible hoping for slick tyres to become the better option. While it was a valiant attempt, the team remained too wet until shortly before the end, forcing Barwell to stick with the wets.
Kujala, who replaced De Haan aboard the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG for the second hour, grabbed the lead as Sandy Mitchell came out of the pits with a few seconds to spare due to the extra Success Penalty time the Lambo had to serve during its pitstop.
The second hour was for the Pros to do their thing. Andrea Caldarelli, making his first British GT start, immediately put his skill to good use as he took fourth place with a short but exciting battle with James Baldwin and began reeling in Sandy Mitchell to make quick work of his follow Lamborghini driver. The Italian replaces Dennis Lind this weekend in the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo shared with Michael Igoe.
Having taken second place, Caldarelli wasn’t done yet: despite Kujala leading by over six seconds, with about twelve minutes to go that gap was closed as well. The Spanish-born Finn stood his ground for a couple of laps, but eventually yielded to Caldarelli who went around the outside of Kujala at Redgate to take the lead with nine minutes to go.
While Cardarelli went on his way to win the race, Kujala had a big enough advantage to keep hold of second place.
Buurman, meanwhile, had raced his #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo shared with Loggie up to third with Phil Keen in the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo shadowing him. Both works drivers – Buurman for AMG, Keen for Lamborghini – set similar lap times to Caldarelli’s but had to come from further back and accept third and fourth place despite their stellar pace. Sandy Mitchell rounded out the top five in the early-race leading #78 Barwell Lamborghini.
Stuck behind the McLaren 720S GT3 of Stewart Proctor who was struggling on the slippery surface, the GT4 frontrunners were running in a tight pack in the opening laps until Proctor found his grove and GT4 leader Jamie Caroline in the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 managed shortly hang with the GT3 to run away from the battling #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 of Patrik Matthiesen and #95 TF Sport teammate Patrick Kibble, with James Kell in the #23 Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra GT4 mixing in later as well.
After almost half an hour of fierce fighting and a short trip through the grass, Kibble finally got by Matthiesen for second with an overtake into the Melbourne Hairpin. From there on Matthiesen began losing his advantage and dropped back to sixth before the pitstops.
With the pitstops out of the way, the race at the front of the GT4 field had settled down. The only big shakeup came through the pitstops where the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 was able to jump the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan due to an extra pitstop time Success Penalty giving Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble the victory over their teammates. The #23 Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra GT4 of James Kell and Sam Smelt completed the podium.
Jordan Albert in the #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 shared with Matt Cowley came close to the Toyota in the final laps but had to settle for fourth, while the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 of Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers finished fifth.
British GT continues later today with the second, 60-minute, race. Watch the race live on GT REPORT.