Jordan Witt and Jack Mitchell dominated a soaking wet opening race at the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s penultimate weekend at Snetterton as the 2 Seas Motorsport drivers mastered the conditions to become the seventh different winners in as many races.
It was also first-time winners in the GT4 class too, as Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan kept themselves in the best place to capitalise on a success penalty for a car ahead to take victory for TF Sport.
Starting behind the safety car because of the vast amounts of standing water on the Norfolk circuit, the grid quickly shuffled as the race went green after a few laps of neutralisation to let the field find where the worst of the water was.
As soon as the racing started, Witt – who started in third – immediately demonstrated just how superior his McLaren 720S was at finding the grip as he quickly dispatched second-placed Rob Collard at the Wilson Hairpin and then came out best in an elbow-to-elbow scrap with pole-sitter Sam De Haan coming out of Murrays.
Up into the lead, Witt’s black and blue McLaren was quickly joined by the bright orange Optimum example as Lewis Proctor pulled off a remarkable charge on the first lap to push himself up to second, and De Haan and Collard down to third and fourth respectively.
The lead pair battled for a time, with each driver finding grip in different parts of the circuit but Witt was too canny to allow Proctor the opportunity to stick his nose ahead.
With neither pair having to serve success seconds at the mandatory pitstop, the fight continued into the second stint when Ollie Wilkinson replaced Proctor and Jack Mitchell replaced Witt. But as the race drew towards its close, Mitchell pulled ahead of Wilkinson and didn’t put a foot wrong to take his and Witts first win and second podium of the year.
Despite the Optimum McLaren running comfortably for a time, a poor final lap from Wilkinson allowed Sandy Mitchell – who was running third after a success penalty-free pitstop for Collard – to pull alongside the McLaren on the run to the flag and snatch second away by just 0.081sec.
The runner-up spot for Mitchell and Collard has pulled the Lamborghini Huracán drivers to within a point of championship leaders De Haan and Patrick Kujala in the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
That’s because Kujala struggled in the wet conditions. Handing over from De Haan in front of team-mate Yelmer Buurman, the Dutchman was all over the back of the black and pink car and eager to find a way past.
Kujala had a reprieve for a time as Buurman ran wide coming onto the Bentley Straight, but a few minutes later Buurman was right onto the back of him again and didn’t make the same mistake twice as he moved up to fourth.
It could have been even worse for the Donington race winners as Kujala then found his mirrors filled with Andrea Caldarelli in the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini. The pair fought tooth-and-nail in the closing laps, but Caldarelli couldn’t find a way through and finished sixth – three-tenths behind.
Seventh went to Phil Keen and Adam Balon in the second of the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis despite Balon spinning on the opening lap coming out of Palmer. The pair recovered throughout the race to finish in a lonely position, more than 15 seconds ahead of a Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren which struggled for pace throughout.
Balfe Motorsport took ninth through Joe Osborne and Stewart Proctor with Team Parker Racing rounding out the top ten as Scott Malvern regained time after a spin for Nick Jones in his stint.
The battle for GT4 honours was decided in the pitstops as Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan secured their first win of the season in a TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage.
Running just behind the pole-sitting #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S of Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen, Vaughan kept the McLaren in sight for his stint and as soon as the pitlane opened – just before the halfway-mark – immediately jumped in.
On fresher tyres, Caroline closed in on Collard and when the latter finally pitted – at the last possible moment during the ten-minute window – the success penalty for winning at Donington allowed Caroline to power through into a comfortable lead he never looked likely to give up.
In fact, you had to wait 17 seconds for Matthiesen to cross the line as he fought off the attentions of Patrick Kibble in the #95 TF Sport entry. Matthiesen holding on to take second by just 0.824sec as the Astons found better traction on the slowly drying track.
Underlining the dominance of HHC and TF at the head of the class was the #57 HHC McLaren of Gus Bowers and Chris Wesemael which took fourth. The 570S running on the podium for a time but Wesemael couldn’t hold off the hard-charging Kibble but still banked good points for the team’s title challenge.
Fifth was the only Pro-Am entry as Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt ran a solid race to comfortably take the position in the Balfe Motorsport entry.
Speedworks Motorsport finished in sixth, with Sam Smelt fending off a late push from Matt Cowley in the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang in a sprint to the line. The two Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4s rounded out the field.
Race two at Snetterton gets underway at 15.10 (16.10 CET) with the live stream here.
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