Enduro Motorsport took its first Intelligent Money British GT Championship victory of the season in dominant fashion, as Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton won by more than a minute.
GT4 proved to be more back-and-forth, but ended up in a similar result as Academy Motorsport cruised to victory in the secondary class.
Starting on pole, it was actually front-row rivals 2 Seas Motorsport that ended the first lap in the lead as James Cottingham braved it round the outside through Redgate and Hollywood to sweep ahead of Tillbrook’s McLaren 720S GT3.
He hardly pulled clear, as the Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver had his mirrors full of the Enduro machine – Tillbrook matching Cottingham corner for corner as they built up a handy lead over Ian Loggie in third.
The significant moment of the race came just after the half-hour mark as the only safety car of the three-hour encounter was called for to clear up the excess of debris that had accumulated after early race comings together for various drivers.
Pitting at the same time, Enduro’s handover from Tillbrook to Clutton was rapid – allowing the latter to come out the pits before the safety car got onto the pit straight, complete a full lap and join the back of the train.
Lewis Williamson, handing over from Cottingham, had no such luck – he was briefly caught by a red light at pit exit and joined the queue just behind the safety car.
An eventual reshuffle took place, with race control waving by the cars ahead of Clutton – a decision he said afterwards he was initially ‘furious’ about before conceding it was a fair call.
Despite the shuffle, it didn’t hamper Clutton’s restart as he used the cushion of GT4 cars behind to put in a mega restart to open up a handy lead over the GT3 pack behind which was headed by 7TSix’s Euan Hankey, the McLaren squad benefitting from a clear pitlane by pitting a lap later.
From there, Clutton and Tillbrook had a clear run to the flag, with a lead extending to over a minute in the final hour, before eventually being trimmed to just under a minute – more from the pair electing to take it safe through traffic rather than any significant drop-off in pace.
After the race, Clutton said: “Donington is definitely kind to us. If Donington did a championship I think we’d enter it because we’re quite good round here.
“I think Morgan’s first stint was just calm, collected, let James [Cottingham] do all the hard work and followed James through. Then we had a mega pitstop which kind of confused everyone, hence why the safety car was longer than it should have been. I think [the wave-by] was fair, at the time I was furious, but I think that was fair to do what they did and reorganise the pile.
“Having that clear track, there was one thing on my mind and that was a bit of a quali stint for an hour, well for the first 10 minutes until I caught traffic again and broke the pack.
“From there on we just managed it. The car is faultless, I think we’ve sussed it, we’ve got our head round this new tyre finally – unfortunately its come at the third round. It is what it is and I wouldn’t say the championship has been written off just yet.”
Behind him, second went to 2 Seas Motorsport, Cottingham and Williamson also having a clean run through the race having gotten back ahead of 7TSix in the middle-hour.
Eventually, they crossed the line more than 20 seconds in hand over Loggie and Callum Macleod – Williamson admitting they just didn’t have the pace to compete with the McLaren.
He added: “James did a phenomenal job in qualifying yesterday so the main aim was to go forward but if we could maintain we would have been happy.
“I think today we just didn’t have the pace of the McLaren, there was a couple of things we could have done better but ultimately that wouldn’t have actually made the difference to be P1.”
It was a quiet third for Loggie and Macleod, but the former won’t care as he extends his championship advantage to 15.5 points having come into Donington tied with Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll.
RAM might not have had that podium if Euan Hankey had a bit of extra time. Having prevailed in a fascinating scrap with Redline Racing’s James Dorlin for fourth with just three minutes to go, Hankey was left with too little time to really threaten Macleod at the end – taking the flag just 0.8sec down.
Fifth went to Dorlin and Alex Malykhin, with Michael Igoe and Phil Keen moving up to second in the drivers’ championship as they netted sixth overall with an intriguing strategy which saw the WPI Motorsport squad completing two of its three mandatory stops in under 10 minutes during the safety car period.
RAM Racing took seventh through John Ferguson and new for this weekend co-driver Ulysse De Pauw, despite losing a bit of time with about an hour remaining after Ferguson spun at the Old Hairpin having taken too much kerb at the entrance to the fast right-hander.
Academy Motorsport prevailed in GT4 after a race that went back and a forth quite a bit during the last 180-minute race of the season.
Early on, Matt Cowley and Marco Signoretti spent a decent amount of time at the front with the latter unseating Newbridge Motorsport’s Matt Topham to take a lead he was only in a position to take after Richard Williams spun the pole-sitting Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS and took a few corners to get up to full-speed again.
Further back there was also trouble for the Assetto Motorsport Ginetta and the Paddock Motorsport McLaren. Ashley Marshall in the McLaren tried to squeeze up the inside of Joe Wheeler in the Ginetta through the Craner Curves but a wobble from the McLaren saw it tag the Ginetta which sent both off. Wheeler was able to rejoin whilst Marshall limped the McLaren back to the garage to undergo extensive repairs.
After the first round of stops, the Mustang was relegated down to second as Darren Turner was flying in the Aston Martin Vantage he took over from Topham. Indeed, the highlight of his race was his move round the outside of Cowley at the Old Hairpin to gain the lead.
The lead swung between the two cars as the pitstops went through and Topham lost out slightly compared to the Silver drivers.
Academy only really pulled clear in the final hour. With cars having to serve any success penalties at the final (or third for those who did more) stop, Newbridge’s 20-second penalty for its Silverstone 500 win really hampered them, allowing the Mustang a clear run and eventual win by more than 17 seconds.
That success penalty benefited the #90 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of Will Burns and Jack Brown. Battling in the top five throughout the race, Burns showed why he’s the defending class champion as he powered up the grid and put himself right in the podium mix. That paid off massively at the final round of the stops, with a lack of success penalty putting him out in second – a position he held to the flag.
The fight for the final podium place proved to be a thriller. Jordan Collard was on a charge in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra, and was on the ragged edge for a number of laps. He managed to make that work, though, as he quickly reeled in R Racing’s Josh Miller and carried in a lot more speed through the Fogarty Esses to gain the place under braking for the Melbourne Hairpin.
R Racing finished fifth, Josh Miller and Jamie Day having a pretty decent race all considered, but couldn’t quite find the pace late on to mount a challenge to regain the places that were taken off them.
Sixth went to Valluga Racing’s Ross Wylie and Matty Graham, just ahead of Topham and Turner who took the Pro-Am win despite dropping down the order with their success penalty.
Rounds 5 and 6 of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship take place over the weekend of June 25/26 at Snetterton.
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