Jon Barnes and James Gornall extended their lead in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship with a win in the rain at Snetterton. The Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper started 9th on the grid but came through to win by just 0.6 seconds ahead of the Matech Ford GT of Alex Mortimer and Bradley Ellis. Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin took their third win of the season in GT4 after the Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and the Team RPM Ginetta of Nigel Moore clashed while fighting for the lead forcing the deployment of the safety car.
As the cars filed onto the grid the rain continued to fall on the Norfolk track, with the entire grid selecting Avon wets. There was some confusion when five cars failed to join the grid before the pitlane closed and Guy Harrington, Nigel Moore, Matt Nicol-Jones, Hunter Abbott and Derek Palmer all had to start from the end of the pitlane. The two Aston Martin DBRS9s of Tom Alexander and Barrie Whight were also missing from the grid, the handling of the mighty Aston in the wet conditions proving to be a source of concern for both teams and the decision was taken to withdraw the cars for Round 7 and race in Round 8 if the track was dry.
Alex Mortimer led the cars round behind the pace car and as the Renault Megane pulled into the pitlane the Ford GT sped away with Jeremy Metcalfe in the #16 CR Scuderia Ferrari slotting in behind. In the first lap scramble James Gornall made up three places with Marco Mapelli and Nick Foster also moving up the order at the expense of Michael Meadows in the #14 CR Scuderia Ferrari.
In GT4 Andrew Howard took advantage of Matt Nicol-Jones starting from the pitlane to lead the GT4 class and open up a large gap to Phil Bailey in the Team RPM Ginetta G50. However Nigel Moore was soon moving up the order, followed by Nicol-Jones and Abbott.
Back at the front Mortimer continued to pull away from Metcalfe by 0.5 seconds a lap but with a 30-second pitstop penalty for the reigning British GT Champions the lead car needed to pull out a bigger gap. By lap 6 the lead car had started to pull away by over a second a lap as Metcalfe pulled away in turn from the squabbling pack behind. A great battle was blazing between Machitski, Mapelli and Foster, with James Gornall joining the back of the queue by lap 3. The Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper picked of Foster in the Team RPM Viper on lap 6 and made up a further place two laps later when Machitski spun, dropping the 2006 GT3 champion to 7th.
By lap 12 Mortimer was 10 seconds ahead of Metcalfe but then the safety car boards were displayed around the circuit, closing the field up behind the pace car and undoing all of Mortimer's hard work. The reason for the safety car period was the Aston Martin of Andrew Howard was in the tyre wall on the exit of the Bomb Hole after a challenge by Nigel Moore for the GT4 lead. Both cars returned to the pits after being extracted from the side of the track and racing resumed on lap 18.
However on lap 17 the pitstop window opened and there was a flurry of activity as teams brought their drivers in while the pace car circulated at low speed. Guy Harrington was a retirement during this period, a lost oil plug the cause of the Lamborghini's demise.
The race went green with the #16 CR Scuderia Ferrari of Luke Hines out in front followed by teammate Michael Cullen in the #15 Ferrari, Oliver Bryant in the #2 Team RPM Viper and Jon Barnes in the #40 Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper. Hines held a big lead over Cullen who was under pressure from Bryant and Barnes. Jon Barnes made it past Bryant and Cullen in short order and set about reducing the 9 second lead held by Hines.
In GT4 Nigel Redwood (#52 Team RPM Ginetta) had emerged from the pitstops in the lead but had Rob Austin breathing down his neck in the #55 Rob Austin Racing Ginetta and on lap 21 Austin moved into the lead of the class.
Meanwhile Alex Mortimer had handed over the Ford GT to Bradley Ellis who rejoined in 14th after sitting in the pits for an extra 30-seconds, the penalty added due to the fact Mortimer and Ellis being two A Class drivers. Ellis was soon picking off the GT3 cars ahead of him and was back up to 6th by lap 30.
Barnes was catching Hines by nearly a second a lap but as the Viper closed to 2 seconds Hines responded and managed to start opening his lead again for a few laps as the leaders came upon the slower GT4 runners. However this was only delaying the inevitable and on lap 37 Barnes swept past the Ferrari on Revett Straight to take the lead. By this time Bradley Ellis had moved ahead of Adam Wilcox (#12 VRS Motor Finance Ferrari) and Jonny Cocker (#9 Tech9 Lamborghini Gallardo) and was 10 seconds behind Luke Hines and closing rapidly, setting the fastest lap of the race on lap 38.
On lap 41 Ellis caught and passed Hines on Revett Straight, crossing the line just 2.5 seconds behind the leader. However the chequered flag approached and Jon Barnes took his and his team’s second win of the year just 0.6 seconds ahead of teh Bradley Ellis, who was wishing that the race had just one more lap. Luke Hines took the final podium position ahead of Jonny Cocker and Adam Wilcox.
In the GT4 class Rob Austin crossed the line 5.4 seconds ahead of Nigel Redwood with championship leader Stewart Linn a lap down in 3rd.
CLICK HERE to listen to the post race press conference
ROUND 7 - Provisional Result
1 - 40 - GT3 - James GORNALL- Jon BARNES - Trimite Brookspeed - 1:00:04.987 - 42 laps
2 - 6 - GT3 - Alex MORTIMER- Bradley ELLIS - Matech GT Racing - +0.697s
3 - 16 - GT3 - Jeremy METCALFE - Luke HINES - CR Scuderia - +5.257s
4 - 9 - GT3 - Leo MACHITSKI - Jonny COCKER - Tech 9 - +18.706s
5 - 12 - GT3 - Phil BURTON - Adam WILCOX - VRS Motor Finance - +21.143s
6 - 14 - GT3 - Michael MEADOWS - James SUTTON - CR Scuderia - +22.202s
7 - 3 - GT3 - Richard MARSH - Anthony REID - Chad Peninsula Racing - +24.705s
8 - 21 - GT3 - Piers JOHNSON - Adam JONES - Team Modena - +25.093s
9 - 23 - GT3 - Hector LESTER - Allan SIMONSEN - Christians in Motorsport - +32.999s
10 - 4 - GT3 - Peter BAMFORD - Matt GRIFFIN - Chad Peninsula Racing - +36.972s
11 - 15 - GT3 - Marco MAPELLI - Michael CULLEN - CR Scuderia - +40.649s
12 - 2 - GT3 - Nick FOSTER - Oliver BRYANT - Team RPM - +43.847s
13 - 8 - GT3 - Oliver MORLEY - Tom FERRIER - Tech 9 - +47.351s
14 - 1 - GT3 - Steve CLARK - Paul O'NEILL - Team RPM - +54.703s
15 - 20 - GT3 - Craig WILKINS - Aaron SCOTT - ABG Motorsport - +01:01.804s
16 - 55 - GT4 - Hunter ABBOTT - Rob AUSTIN - Rob Austin Racing - +2 laps
17 - 52 - GT4 - Fulvio MUSSI - Nigel REDWOOD - Team RPM - +2 laps
18 - 88 - GT4 - Matt NICOLL-JONES - Stewart LINN - IMS Motorsport - +3 laps
19 - 71 - GT4 - Neil CLARK - Ian STINTON - Stark Racing - +3 laps
20 - 50 - GT4 - Phil BAILEY - Steve TANDY - Team RPM - +3 laps
21 - 54 - GT4 - Derek PALMER - Promotorsport - +4 laps
22 - 51 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE - Joe OSBORNE - Team RPM - +4 laps
23 - 99 - GT4 - Andrew HOWARD - Jamie SMYTH - Beechdean Motorsport - +10 laps
DNC - 11 - GT3 - Guy HARRINGTON - Ben de ZILLE BUTLER - Team Modena - +29 laps
DNC - 18 - GT3 - Barrie WHIGHT - Gavin KERSHAW - Cadena Motorsport
DNC - 42 - GT3 - Tom ALEXANDER - Michael BENTWOOD - 22GTRacing
6 - GT3 - Bradley ELLIS - Matech GT Racing - 01:18.561 - 89.44mph - 143.95kph
51 - GT4 - Nigel MOORE - Team RPM - 1:25.304 – 82.37mph – 132.57kph