John Ferguson put in the defensive drive of his life to secure a thrilling victory in the second Intelligent Money British GT Championship race at Snetterton, in what was one of the most thrilling final stints of a British GT race in years as he and Raffaele Marciello took their first victory of the year for RAM Racing.
GT4 proved to be a lot calmer, but no less incident filled as Charles Clark recovered from being spun off by Mike Simpson in the Toro Verde GT Ginetta to secure class victory alongside Jack Brown in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren Artura.
Started by the Pro drivers, the first half of Round Six of 2023 proved to be a relatively calm affair as no one looked to take too many risks early doors which meant Ross Gunn could make a clean start from pole – having been promoted to the top spot on the grid thanks to the withdrawal of the Garage 59 McLaren.
Not that it meant he had a pressure-free start, as Jules Gounon in the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 tried to see if he could squeeze his nose ahead around the first couple of corners, but Gunn was too wise and kept the door firmly shut as he widened out his Beechdean AMR Aston to the width of the circuit it looked like.
Marciello was right behind and was looking to see if he could capitalise on the pair ahead potentially coming into strife but there was no easy opportunities for the Swiss racer and he instead settled in behind Gounon.
The pair were dicing through GT4 traffic but letting Gunn escape as the Vantage proved keenly suited to the Snetterton circuit and quickly built up a 3.9sec advantage at the front.
It was stalemate until the pits, and it was after that the action really exploded. Gounon handed over to Loggie and Marciello handed to Ferguson and the two Amateur racers started to go at it hammer and tongs.
Coming out of the pits nose-to-tail, it looked like Loggie had the measure of Ferguson but a remarkable move through traffic proved the key turning point of the race. Through the long-right of Coram and going into the sharp left of Murrays, the pair were having to be careful to avoid the Race Lab McLaren Artura GT4 as they put a lap on him. Loggie looked to brake slightly early to make sure he had the right line into the corner, but Ferguson squirmed his way through slightly later on the brakes, threading the thinnest of needles to take second off the reigning champion.
He didn’t even need to really put a challenge to Andrew Howard, leading the race having taken over from Gunn, as the Beechdean crew were slapped with a one-second stop/go penalty for a short stop which dropped them down to sixth.
Promoted to first, Ferguson found himself under increased pressure from both Loggie and the latter’s 2 Seas team-mate James Cottingham who put himself right on the back of Loggie.
Third for a time, it was a thrilling move that put him second. Cottingham had more speed down the long main straight as Loggie and Ferguson battled for the lead but was forced onto the outside line as the pair hugged the pit wall. Cottingham, dander up, thought ‘no matter’ and went right round the outside of Loggie and into the lead.
And it’s happened IMMEDIATELY!
Ferguson and Loggie trade paint while Cottingham throws it round the outside!
— 🇬🇧 #BritishGT 🏁 (@BritishGT) June 18, 2023
Cottingham was clearly quicker, but Ferguson was driving the widest Mercedes-AMG GT3 that British GT had ever seen and he wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. He was aided too, by slowing the battle at the front so much, that Orange Racing with JMH’s Simon Orange soon made the trio a quartet and was putting the pressure on Loggie for the final spot on the podium.
The four would thus break into two groups of two, and gave Cottingham what should have been clear air to try and make a move happen on Ferguson and there was times where he was clearly getting desperate. Looks round the outside of Riches had a lack of momentum, and Ferguson had the Wilson and Agostini hairpins firmly covered.
There was one chance for Cottingham, having had a good run down the long Bentley straight and looking like he had the inside line going into Brundle. He elected not to go for the lunge, and Ferguson was spared again. There was an attempt at a dart up the inside of the Bomb Hole, but that corner doesn’t lend itself to a clean overtake.
The action was so ferocious, that it led to some final lap confusion. The race clock had pretty much ticked down to zero as the pair crossed the line – Ferguson just 0.042sec ahead – and at first it seemed as though they’d been given a final lap to do battle, but halfway round, the timing system suddenly showed the chequered flag.
Ferguson, spared a last lap attack, secured a hard-fought victory 12 months on from his last win which also came at Snetterton. For Cottingham, it was a question of what might have been, but with some comfort of knowing that he and Jonny Adam have secured more precious championship points.
Third was a great fight too. In both races, Orange showed how strong he was on the brakes into the right-handed Wilson hairpin. With eight minutes to go, Orange put in a bit of a test of Loggie’s resolve, trying the inside line but braking a touch earlier to avoid colliding with the Scot.
Seeing that Loggie was leaving a gap on the inside, Orange’s mind was set. A lap later and he did the same move again, this time braking as late as he dared and putting the McLaren 720S GT3 Evo up into third.
A podium position in his grasp, he set about trying to claim second and it was with just a few minutes to go that it seemed as though he was going to get his best chance as Cottingham was delayed slightly by Ferguson. Trying round the outside at Riches, Orange just got onto the dirty part of the track and lost momentum on the run up to Wilson – allowing Loggie to squeeze back through.
On the final lap that never was, Orange tried the move again and went door-to-door with Loggie as the pair collided. Orange was through, but the pair tangled at Agostini a few corners later. Thankfully for both of them, the delayed chequered flag avoided any lost positions and Loggie secured a podium alongside Gounon, whilst Orange and Michael O’Brien had to settle for fourth, but no doubt with confidence boosted.
Fifth went to Dan Harper and Darren Leung in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 – the latter not able to match the pace of the leading four in the big BMW as he looked to fend off Howard who came out sixth after his stop/go, but was then also slapped with a time penalty in lieu of a drive-through for being caught speeding in the pitlane, which dropped the Aston all the way down to 15th.
That gave Greystone GT a well-earned sixth, with Mike Price and Callum Macleod not putting a foot wrong as the former fended off a late charge from Enduro Motorsport’s Matt Topham to retain the place.
Sky Tempesta Racing took eighth for Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt, whilst race one winners Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell could only finish the second race in ninth in their Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2. Paddock Motorsport rounded out the top 10.
The secondary class proved less action-packed but no less captivating as Jack Brown and Charles Clark extended their lead at the top of GT4, but it wasn’t an incident-free race for the Optimum Motorsport pair.
Starting the McLaren Artura from pole, Clark was quickly under pressure from Mike Simpson in the Toro Verde GT Ginetta G56. The Ginetta might have had the pace, but Clark wasn’t going to just let Simpson by without a fight.
Lap after lap, the pair were nose-to-tail and it was perhaps not surprising that the result of that scrap proved to be slightly controversial as Simpson tapped Clark into a spin at Wilson. The McLaren managed to recover and continue in second, but Simpson was quickly relegated down the order as he was given a 10sec stop/go for causing a collision and was quickly put out of contention for the win.
It was all change again in the pitstops as success seconds and the Silver Cup time penalty Clark had to serve when handing over to Brown allowed Carl Cavers to take the lead in the Pro/Am Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 he shares with Lewis Plato. Despite Cavers’ best efforts, it was only a matter of time before he found himself relegated as Brown got past with ease.
He ended up with a comfortable win once it all shook out, with DTO Motorsport’s Aston Millar fending off R Racing’s Josh Miller to take second and more useful points for the black-and-white Artura which started the weekend with no front-end having been punted off-track in FP1 by a GT3 McLaren.
Fourth, and Pro/Am victory went to Cavers, who had a acres of space between himself and Ian Duggan – the Toro Verde driver taking second in Pro/Am as well as fifth overall.
Sadly not finishing was the race one winning Ginetta of Stuart Middleton and Freddie Tomlinson. Started by the latter, the Raceway Motorsport driver was caught out in a bit of an odd incident at the start of the race as Seb Hopkins checked up slightly in the R Racing Aston, which caught out both Josh Rowledge in the DTO Aston and Tomlinson in the G56. It was he who came out worst, with significant front-end damage forcing him to park the car next to the barriers on the exit of Palmer.
There’s now a decent break before the next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, which takes the field to a brand new circuit as they head to the sunny skies of Portimāo for a three-hour race on 22/23 July.
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