Jonny Adam has taken win 19 to tie Phil Keen’s long-standing Intelligent Money British GT Championship record as he combined with James Cottingham to take a thrilling victory in a chaotic three-hour race at Portimao for 2 Seas Motorsport.


In the GT4 class, a strategy masterclass from Century Motorsport – and avoiding the pitfalls that befell others – allowed Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld to take class victory and Pro/Am category victory in their BMW M4 GT4. 


At the start it was pole-sitter Miguel Ramos in the Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 who made the best getaway as he swept into Turn 1 in the lead, with Cottingham pulling into second and holding station from a fast-charging Ian Loggie in the sister Mercedes-AMG GT3 who was using every inch of the track in his attempt to make up positions early on. 

It wasn’t long before the action was unfolding, with Darren Leung – in the Century Motorsport BMW – all over Shaun Balfe in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini for fourth. The former had the pace in the M4 GT3 but Balfe has the experience and wasn’t going to be passed this early into proceedings.

That scrap was mirrored up front with Cottingham under the rear wing of the McLaren and looking to try and make a move. 

There wasn’t going to be time for that though, as the first of the safety car periods was implemented. That was to recover Carl Cavers from the Turn 5 gravel trap, the BMW racer clipping the back of the Optimum Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 and going straight into the gravel. 

With proceedings neutralised, that started the race-long game of strategy musical chairs. In a three-hour race, the only rule for pitstops is that teams need to make three driver changes, when to take them? That’s up to you. 

Even though it was only 10 minutes into the race, both Garage 59 and both the 2 Seas crews jumped in immediately, heading a train of GT3s all electing to dive in to tick off the first of their driver changes. Pitting a lap later was the Barwell crew as Balfe handed over to Sandy Mitchell to try and avoid the chaos but that initially dropped them down the order as a lot of the GT4s especially decided to keep their powder dry. 

When the safety car came back in, there was a disrupted look to the top of the field as Mark Radcliffe led the way in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren, having decided not to stop during the safety car and he had a buffer of six GT4s over Marvin Kirchhöfer, who had taken over from Ramos.

The biggest mover though, was Leung’s team-mate Dan Harper in the BMW. He was flying up the order, and having passed Adam and Kirchhöfer he was quickly onto the back of Radcliffe – having sliced down a 15-second deficit in just over 10 minutes.

Muscling his way past Radcliffe, he didn’t get to enjoy that lead for long as the second safety car was called for to recover Kavi Jundu’s Paddock Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4, which was on fire on the alternative version of the Turn 5 hairpin. 

With issues to the safety car – one broke down and another had to be scrambled – there was a lengthy interruption of more than 30 minutes as everything got sorted back out again. 

Once we did go green, with just under two hours remaining on the clock, there was a lot of change at the front. Ramos and Leung both dropped down the order slightly, as they pitted a lap after everyone else but got caught by a red light at the end of the pits as the strung out safety car queue trundled its way down the start/finish straight. 

Leading, then, was John Ferguson in a slightly battered RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 after an early skirmish with Barwell’s Mark Sansom. He headed a bunch of five cars which included Lucky Khera, Matt Topham, Cottingham and Sansom. 

With Ferguson driving a Mercedes the width – and occasionally the speed – of a dump-truck, that top five was pretty close together and that led to excitement and drama. First off it was excitement, as Cottingham tried everything he could to get past Topham’s Enduro Motorsport Aston Martin, but Topham was too canny and was able to use the grunt of the Vantage to hang it out round the outside and maintain his position.

Then, it was drama. And it was Topham involved in that too. Clipping the back of Lucky Khera at Turn 13, the top five had to disperse and put itself back together again to avoid being involved in a further incident. 

Cottingham benefited as he swept to second, with Sansom third and Drivetac’s Chris Hart stealthing his way up into fourth. With Sansom and Hart battling each other, Cottingham was freed to fight Ferguson and what a battle it was.

Ferguson was going as wide as possible, banging doors when needed, and generally defending like his life depended on it. It took more than 10 minutes of battling, but the move was finally made around that Turn 13/14 sequence as Cottingham swept round the outside and outbraked Ferguson into the left and held the inside the corner after to keep the green-and-yellow car in front. 

With Ferguson dispatched, the race entered a crucial phase for the #4 crew as Cottingham turned to qualifying mode to put in as much pace as he could to try and open up a gap that would keep them in the lead all the way to the flag. Helpfully, with the RAM Racing driver continuing to put up a massive defence to Topham, Cottingham’s lead went to 10 seconds just at the halfway mark. 

2 Seas up the road, the focus went to that battle for second with Ferguson under pressure from Topham and Loggie. The main move was Loggie managing to squeeze past Topham and then onto the back of the RAM Mercedes trying to take second. 

A few decent moves denied, as soon as the reigning champion got through he was slapped with a drive-through for multiple track limits penalties. Him gone, Ferguson finally gave up the fight as he putted just on the 70 minutes remaining mark – a lap after Cottingham elected to hand over to Adam for the final time. 

If that was going to be tight on fuel, it didn’t matter. Just after the two-hour mark, there was a final safety car as the #56 Raceway Motorsport Ginetta of Freddie Tomlinson ended up in the gravel at Turn 14. The resulting pitstops for the remaining teams massively played into the hands of Optimum Motorsport as Radcliffe handed over to Bell in second place.

From there, the race seemed to settle, as the Pros looked to just get to the end as cleanly as possible with track temperatures sitting at a roasting 51C – easily the hottest British GT will experience this year. 

There was a hint of a lead battle, with Adam looking like he might come under pressure from Bell but the latter was getting his mirrors filled with Sandy Mitchell’s Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 as the Barwell team played strategy perfectly once again and released the Scot right behind the McLaren 720S GT3. 

The pair were battling ferociously and there was a few points as the pair diced through the GT4 traffic and gave Mitchell a few opportunities to try and make a move for second. It wasn’t to be, Bell is far too canny an operator to make it easy to deprive him of a runner-up spot and crossed the line three seconds adrift of Adam, but only 0.347sec ahead of Mitchell who tried to drag race him to the line. 

Ahead, victory for Adam is his 19th in British GT 12 years after his first aboard a Beechdean AMR Aston Martin DBRS9. He’s now tied level with Phil Keen, who’s rattled up the same amount of wins but for some stroke of really bad luck doesn’t have any titles to his name, compared to Adam’s four. 

Keen had a chance to try and add another win to his record, but took sixth as he super-subbed for Jules Gounon alongside Ian Loggie that drive-through in the second half really costing them. 

Just off the podium was Ferguson and team-mate Raffaele Marciello. Lello did his best to pick off as many rivals as he could, and started the final stint in sixth, but he was heavily delayed in a cracking battle with Harper – himself bouncing back after a 30-second stop/go for overtaking three GT4s coming out of the pits during the first safety car. The Swiss did get past Harper eventually – Harper took the place away initially on the run through Turn 1, but Marciello punched back through Turns 3 and 4 to maintain fourth. 

Delayed just long enough, he finished a second down on Mitchell and Bell at the flag to take fourth overall, with Harper and Leung fifth ahead of Loggie & Keen. 

Seventh went to Konsta Lappaleinen and Tim Creswick in what was a really odd race for the 7TSix pair. They didn’t seem to feature too much in the action, which probably helped them sneak so far up the order in their Mercedes-AMG GT3. 

Despite a gaping hole in the front-left and a drive-through, Clutton and Topham made a pretty successful start to life racing Astons in eigith, just ahead of Sansom & Will Tregurtha in the sister Barwell entry, with Chris Froggatt and Kevin Tse rounding out the top 10 – despite the latter getting shunted by Miguel Ramos as Tse looked to fill a pretty obvious gap up the inside of him at Turn 8. The damage to Tse was minimal, but it forced Ramos and Kirchhöfer into an early retirement. 


The secondary class had a late twist in the tale which led to a completely unexpected result, if you factor in the form some teams have had coming into the race after all the other sessions so far this weekend.

At the start, it was pretty much as you’d expect as Josh Miller took a 1.5sec lead at the end of the first lap in the pole-sitting R Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as he had clean air to enjoy and avoid the squabbling behind. That squabbling, though, really benefitted the Enduro Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 as Harry George made a great start to move from sixth to second.

He couldn’t close in on Miller though, as he was forced to fend off the attention of Dan Vaughan in the equally fast-starting Team Parker Racing McLaren Artura GT4. 

With all the safety car interruptions, the strategies in GT4 seemed to vary much, much, more than they did in GT3 with each team electing to try completely different plans to try and reach the chequered flag first. 

That put Tomlinson and Middleton’s Raceway Ginetta and Mike Simpson’s Toro Verde GT Ginetta up towards the sharp-end as they kept their first stops quite late. It was the same strategy for Academy Motorsport’s pair of Mustangs as they also elected to try and run to an almost on-the-hour strategy and see how long they can run and jump people going off into the pits during every interruption. 

Come the halfway mark, and it was only fifth-placed Seb Hopkins – taking over from Miller – who had done two stops, with all four of the above mentioned cars only taking one stop to that point. 

With the safety car to recover Tomlinson ticking off one stop, the teams that had gambled on being able to do another late stop under a safety car had it blow up in their face slightly as the last 50 minutes went off without another interruption. 

Playing it perfectly was the #14 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld, who powered themselves up to the top of the class with just over 30 minutes left on the clock. 

Stops completed, it was a straight run to the finish and a battle between Salkeld and Hopkins – who had been put back in the R Racing car to take it to the flag. 20 minutes left and there was four seconds between them with the Aston a lot faster than the BMW – a reflection on the whole weekend at Portimao.

When he got closer, a rare mistake crept in. Trying to pass Ignacio Zanon in the #55 Raceway Ginetta G56, he clipped the back of the Italian sending him spinning and the Aston into the pits needing to patch up damage to the front-left corner. 

That released Salkeld to take his first victory in three years, and the first for the new BMW M4 GT4 in British GT, as well as the Pro/Am win alongside Johnston. 

Second went to that fast starting pairing of Harry George and Darren Burke, a Silver Cup win and second in GT4 in the new Enduro Mercedes-AMG GT4. Burke cut the deficit to three seconds at the line, but probably needed another five minutes to really challenge for the win. 

Third went to Josh Rowledge and Aston Millar in the DTO Motorsport McLaren Artura, keeping themselves out of trouble and moving their way up the field to also take second in Silver. Race Lab’s Tom Wrigley and Ian Gough took fourth – second in Pro/Am – with Mike Simpson and James Townsend rounding out the Pro/Am podium despite one of the Ginetta’s tyres spectacularly exploding in front of Jonny Adam just as the latter was crossing the line the line to take the win. 


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