Kevin Tse and Tom Onslow-Cole combined in spectacular fashion to take their first Intelligent Money British GT Championship race win together in the opening encounter at Oulton Park.
In GT4, a good start from Matt Topham gave Darren Turner enough of an advantage to come out of the pits in the lead and into a comfortable victory for Newbridge Motorsport.
Tse and Onslow-Cole triumphed in their RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 thanks to a great opening stint from Tse, who settled himself under the rear-wing of Kelvin Fletcher’s Bentley at the start and didn’t let the polesitter getaway.
He kept the pressure on until Fletcher was forced to take to the grass at Old Hall to avoid a spinning David Whitmore. Going the long way round the outside lost the Paddock Motorsport racer the lead as Tse managed to pick his way round the inside and into the top spot.
From there, Tse kept a steady pace at the front and pitted as soon as the window opened with 36 minutes to go. Once Onslow-Cole got on-board, there was a lap or two or having to fend off a hard-charging Sam Neary, but when the latter started to have to defend from Dennis Lind, the Mercedes driver could make his escape and took a comfortable win.
Second went to Neary, but it was some battle to end up getting that podium spot. A strong start from Richard Neary moved the Team Abba Mercedes into fifth, and was shadowing the cars ahead.
He started to move up the order thanks to capitalising on the mistakes of cars ahead. First Morgan Tillbrook span at Cascades in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3, and then Michael Igoe got squeezed ever so slightly by Ian Loggie at The Avenue which pushed the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini onto the grass and dropped to seventh.
That promoted Richard Neary up to third, and onto the back of Fletcher. The Bentley had great pace and Fletcher was defending valiantly, but eventually lost his second place after he was caught behind a GT4 BMW the pair were coming to lap, with Richard using that baulk on Fletcher to power his way through going down Lakeside.
In the second stint, Sam started strong, but having elected not to swap tyres at the stop started to cost him as the race wound down to its conclusion as Lind – in the Barwell Motorsport Huracán – got all over the back of the all-black Mercedes and was putting pressure on.
Despite the Lamborghini being clearly faster, Neary didn’t leave an inch for Lind to sneak through and crossed the line with the most slender of advantages. Neary’s cause was helped at one stage by being able to outbrake a McLaren GT4 he was lapping into the Hislops Chicane. With Lind too far back to make the same move, Neary managed to get slight breathing space.
That Lind took third was a testament to the driving talent of both him and Leo Machitski after the car lost a decent chunk of its rear diffuser thanks to a hefty, but accidental, shove from Loggie as the field bunched up at the Brittens Chicane.
With the podium decided, the on-track battle shifted down to the scrap for fourth between Martin Plowman in the Bentley, and Scott Malvern in the Team Parker Porsche. With the Bentley drifting down in terms of pace, Malvern got right onto the back of the Paddock car in an attempt to snatch fourth away.
Traffic started to delay Malvern’s charge, but was helped by Plowman getting a 30-second time penalty for multiple track limits violations which demoted the Bentley to 10th.
The penalty promoted Igoe and Phil Keen into fifth – the latter on the back of Malvern at the end but running out of time to try and fire the Lamborghini ahead.
Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon took sixth in a relatively quiet race for the duo, and indeed the same could be said for Loggie and Yelmer Buurman who crossed the line in seventh. Both those results give Machitski and Lind more of an advantage in the title battle with two races remaining.
The advantage Pro/Am cars have in the pits – not having the 20-second extra time the Silver Cup entries endure – proved a key deciding factor for Darren Turner and Matt Topham taking their second GT4 win of the season in the Newbridge Motorsport Aston.
Although, it wouldn’t be fair to overlook the stint Topham put in at the start to be shadowing championship leader Will Burns – who leaped from second to first on the opening lap – into the mandatory stop.
With Burns unable to open the sufficient gap to counteract the pitstop penalty for his all-Silver entry, Turner came back out comfortably ahead of Gus Burton – hitting more than 13 seconds at points, and only growing until the flag as Turner turned the screw to ensure the victory.
Second has pretty much nailed on the GT4 title for Burns and Burton – helped by a DNF for their team-mates in the #9 Century Motorsport BMW. Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke went for a move up the inside of Jack Brown at Lodge but was slightly too far back to make the move stick and the two collided – sending both into retirement.
Back on track, the Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS rounded out the overall podium after a great battle between Richard Williams and Will Moore sadly ended early after the latter was forced to pull the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang into the pits with technical troubles.
James Kell and Jordan Collard put in a pair of good stints to move the #2 Team Rocket RJN McLaren 570S into fourth, as Charlie Robertson just ran out of laps to continue his cracking charge up the field – he ended fifth with Mark Sansom, just 1.5sec behind Collard.
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