Fox Motorsport’s Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley have taken a comfortable victory in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s away day in Spa, but has won under appeal after a saga involving engine maps and BoP.
In GT4, there’s no such drama as Jamie Day and Josh Miller put in a storming display to secure a hard-won victory in what was a thrilling race for the junior category.
Drama in the GT3 category started after Saturday’s qualifying session. After a mid-weekend BoP adjustment by SRO, both the Fox Motorsport and Paddock Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3s were excluded from qualifying after ‘non-compliance with the requirements of the BoP’.
The teams were the only two McLaren outfits scrutineered – meaning teams like Greystone GT and Enduro Motorsport avoided exclusion – and both blamed McLaren for putting in an incorrect engine map – something the teams don’t manage themselves.
After appealing, the two squads were permitted to start from their original grid positions, pending a hearing in front of Motorsport UK’s National Court in the coming weeks.
At the start, Halstead’s restated second place quickly became third through La Source for the first time as James Cottingham made a lightning start in the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be right on the tail of Adam Balon, in the polesitting Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
The race settled down a touch after a busy start, but the biggest mover proved to be Graham Davidson in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren. His move up the field wasn’t without incident though, as he collided with Morgan Tillbrook’s Enduro machine at the Bus Stop. The latter went into the turn very wide and cut back in towards the apex, with Davidson not quite slowing down enough in anticipation for the second McLaren to cut back in tight.
He was eventually given a stop/go for the contact, but not before he’d charged up to the lead. Getting a better run out of Raidillon, he had better straight-line speed than Balon and pulled level heading into Les Combes before coming out in the lead.
That was the last real action before the only safety car of the race. Mia Flewitt and Michael Igoe were battling for position and as they ran down towards Eau Rouge, Flewitt just had the advantage in her 7TSix McLaren, but Igoe tried to keep the nose of his WPI Lamborghini on the inside as they went through the fast uphill right. Igoe quickly ran out of space and clipped Flewitt, who spun off and hit the barriers at the top of Raidillon. Thankfully she didn’t hit the tyres too hard, but enough to retire on the spot.
Once the safety car came back in, the action was for the lead. With Davidson serving his penalty, Cottingham moved into the lead as Balon started to slip back – Halstead also relegating Balon down a place on the run up the Kemmel Straight.
From there, Halstead continued his charge towards the lead. Quickly slicing down his deficit to Cottingham, he made the move for the lead in remarkable fashion. Getting good drive out of La Source, he went side-by-side down towards Eau Rouge and had just enough extra speed to get to the corner first.
That was the last time anyone else had the lead. Handing over to Stanley with a comfortable margin, the Fox squad maintained a 6sec advantage for the remainder of the race.
Indeed that was the same for the rest of the eventual podium. A slick stop for 2 Seas saw Cottingham hand over to Lewis Williamson with a comfortable grip on second, and despite Ian Loggie handing over his RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Jules Gounon with a few positions in hand thanks to some slick work.
Gounon set the fastest lap of the race, but traffic always stymied his charge – settling for third and more points in the bag for Loggie as he ramps up his championship charge with just two races to go.
Fourth ended up being the real battle of the second-half of the two-hour race. James Dorlin, in a borrowed Allied Racing Porsche instead of Redline’s usual Lamborghini thanks to he and Alex Malykhin wanting to get some extra preparation ahead of the 24 Hours next week, had to fend off a hard-charging Sandy Mitchell, who took over from Balon.
Lap after lap, Dorlin managed to put on a great display of defensive driving to keep Mitchell at bay. He finally made the slightest of slips with 15 minutes to go. Going into La Source, Mitchell went from outside to inside and with Dorlin drifting wide, the Scot got his nose on the inside and held his nerve to be first into Eau Rouge.
Dorlin ended in fifth, ahead of John Ferguson and Ulysse De Pauw despite the latter pairing having to bring in their RAM Racing Mercedes for a drive-through penalty for repeated track limits penalties. That brought the Paddock car into contention of snatching sixth away, but Martin Plowman – who took over from Davidson – probably needed another lap to try and take the position from De Pauw.
Compared to the dramas in GT3, GT4 was focused more on hard racing and great passing – but mainly in the second-half of the first 120-minute race of the season.
In the first 60 minutes, things were pretty settled with Jordan Collard holding a decent advantage in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra, over Josh Miller in the R Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
Things didn’t really change as Collard maintained his advantage in the Toyota until the mandatory stops. Handing over the Supra to Tom Edgar, the latter didn’t quite have the same pace as the hot Belgian weather started to really bite.
First, he was involved in a great battle with Sennan Fielding – in the Steller Motorsport Audi – and Jamie Day in the R Racing entry for the lead. Fielding just snatched the lead away when he was pinged for a 10sec stop/go for a pitstop infringement by the team so was relegated down the order.
That gave Day his chance to launch an attack on Edgar and it was through Campus where he made his move – managing to take a tighter inside line and squeezing ahead as Edgar drifted wide at the turn.
He pulled clear, but it wasn’t over for Edgar who kept losing positions. Indeed he quickly lost second to Team Parker Racing’s Seb Hopkins who copied Day’s overtake to the letter to get his Porsche 718 Cayman RS Clubsport up into second at Campus.
With those two battling, Team BRIT unleashed absolute fury in Bobby Trundley’s second stint, who drove like a man possessed to fight his way up the order – taking third in his McLaren 570S GT3 in the closing ten minutes of the race and the team’s best result since graduating to British GT.
Fielding and Richard Williams took their Audi R8 LMS to fourth after a strong fightback from the former in the last quarter of the race, while the Supra squad eventually took fifth – Edgar just out-dragging Darren Turner in the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin to take the position by 0.077sec.
British GT is now taking a summer break, with the next round the penultimate race of the year – a two-hour blast around the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit on September 10&11.
Pictures courtesy British GT / JEP
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