Barwell Motorsport’s Phil Keen and Adam Balon took the lead on the first corner and didn’t look back as they gave their Intelligent Money British GT Championship title hopes a boost by taking victory in the second race at Snetterton.
The GT4 title race will also go down to the final round at Silverstone after a fine closing stint from Jordan Collard powered HHC Motorsport up into the victory, ahead of their TF Sport title rivals.
Lining up alongside the second Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Sandy Mitchell, Keen stuck to the outside line and – finding more grip – powered round the outside of his Barwell team-mate and into the lead.
From there, Keen put on a display of why he’s so successful in GT racing as he kept calm and extended his lead in tricky conditions as the track started greasy and then became wetter as the rain started to pick up once again.
Pulling out roughly a second a lap over the cars behind, Keen waited until the last possible moment to bring the Lamborghini in for the mandatory stop with Balon coming out with more than half-a-minute on rivals behind thanks to a lack of success penalties from race one.
While Balon didn’t have the pace of the cars behind, a clean run to the flag secured the pair their first victory since the curtailed second Oulton Park race by 6.935sec.
Balon told the TV crew after the race: “I had the much easier job, Phil pulled out a great lead and I just had to bring it home but I made a mistake in the first race so I was conscious of not wanting to do that again. My focus was just keeping it on the black stuff.”
They were helped, mainly, by the chopping and changing going behind as their rivals started to fall away. The first to lose out was the sister car of Mitchell as the team lost more than 30 seconds in the stop after a problem with the belts while handing over to Rob Collard. Mitchell explained to pitlane reporter – and 2019 GT4 champion Kelvin Fletcher – that the belts got caught behind the seat insert.
He added: “Had a mess up with the belts, that cost us a lot of time. Safety is the main thing so it is important they’re done up before he gets sent out. Belts went behind the seat insert, mistake we shouldn’t have been making. Cost us a P2, Rob’s laps have been really fast so hopefully we can get something out of that.”
Eventually finishing fifth, their demotion allowed a two-way battle to unfold for the runner-up spot. Initially led after the stops by Ian Loggie – after a strong opening stint by Yelmer Buurman – the RAM Racing driver seemed to be comfortable in holding off the threat of WPI Motorsport’s Michael Igoe until he dramatically ran wide going onto the Bentley Straight and ran onto the grass.
The resulting time loss allowed both Igoe and team-mate Sam De Haan to sweep through into second and third, with Loggie barely holding off Collard, taking the chequered in fourth with just a half-a-second advantage.
De Haan’s third, after a relatively quiet race for both he and starting co-driver Patrick Kujala, has given the pair the advantage heading into the finale with six points in hand over Collard and Mitchell.
Still in mathematical contention – but needing a huge slice of luck to fall their way – was the crew that finished sixth: James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien. The Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren pair didn’t put a foot wrong in the race, but continued to suffer from the same lack of pace that has plagued them all weekend.
Indeed, it wasn’t a good race for McLarens generally as the track conditions – halfway between wet and dry – didn’t appear to suit the 720S. Optimum Motorsport took seventh, ahead of race one winners Jordan Witt and Jack Mitchell, with the second 2 Seas Motorsport entry of Dean Macdonald and Angus Fender taking ninth. Balfe Motorsport rounded out the top ten.
For most of the opening stint, it seemed certain that victory would fall to one of the TF Sport Aston Martins, but Jordan Collard had other ideas.
With a slight advantage on pitstop success penalties, the stops became crucial and with Matthiesen bringing the car in in fourth – having got past the struggling Academy Motorsport Mustang but trailing Euan Hankey in the Balfe McLaren – Collard was sent out in an ideal position.
Chasing down Dan Vaughan – who took over the race one winning #97 from Jamie Caroline – Collard was finding more grip in his 570S than Vaughan was in the Vantage.
As well as a grip advantage, Collard had a speed advantage which was highlighted in the move for the lead. Coming out of Murrays onto the start/finish straight just behind Vaughan, the McLaren quickly caught and passed the Aston going into Riches.
From there, he just pulled clear with the McLaren looking solid all the way to the end. Collard said after the race: “HHC were on it today, they gave us a car that was on rails today. It was all down to them, it was a great day today.”
Vaughan finished second, with the sister car coming up relatively close behind as Connor O’Brien – who took over from Patrick Kibble – took third with just three-seconds to make up on the second bright yellow machine.
After taking over from Hankey, Mia Flewitt showed pretty solid pace to take fourth alongside her Pro-Am Class victory with the Century Motorsport BMW of Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke and Ben Tuck improving from race one to take fifth.
Will Moore stabilised the Mustang’s fall somewhat to take sixth, holding off a late fightback from James Kell in the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra.
The final round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship season is the showcase three-hour Silverstone 500 – it takes place on November 7&8.
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