Podium lockout by customer teams HHC Motorsport and Tolman Motorsport at first round of the British Championship at Oulton Park
Second race of weekends sees a further podium and Pro-Am class victory for Balfe Motorsport
McLaren Customer Racing teams running the McLaren 570S GT4 enjoyed a strong start to the 2019 British GT Championship season over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend at Oulton Park. A triple podium in the first race, followed by a second place and Pro-Am victory in the weekend’s second event saw each of the three GT4 teams securing silverware.
The #57 HHC Motorsport entry of Dean MacDonald and Callum Pointon took victory in the first race, on the team’s debut outing as a McLaren Customer Racing team. The result led a podium lockout for the McLaren 570S GT4, with the #4 of Tolman Motorsport driven by McLaren Driver Development Programme drivers James Dorlin and Josh Smith crossing the line just ahead of Tom Jackson and Luke Williams in the sister #58 HHC Motorsport entry.
The weekend’s second race saw customer team Balfe Motorsport lead the charge at the front of the GT4 grid. The duo of McLaren Junior Driver Michael O’Brien and Graham Johnson at the wheel of the striking #20 570S GT4 took P2 in the race and victory in the GT4 Pro-Am class. The result was a particularly strong effort by the pair after starting the race from P13.
HHC Motorsport having taken both second row slots on the GT4 grid in the first race, Dean MacDonald drove the opening stint in the team’s #57 lead car and quickly climbed to P2 before an incident in the GT3 ranks saw the McLaren 720S British GT Safety Car make its debut appearance on track. With the gap to the leader reduced, MacDonald waited patiently for the opportunity to make a move before taking the lead shortly before the driver change at the halfway point of the race.
MacDonald’s teammate Callum Pointon maintained the race lead following the round of pitstops. A solid first stint and quick work in the pits by customer team Tolman Motorsport saw the #4 570S GT4 of McLaren Driver Development Programme drivers Josh Smith and James Dorlin emerge in P2. Over the course of the remaining laps, Pointon soaked up the pressure from Smith and went on to win the race, leading home the #4 and the sister #57 HHC Motorsport machine of Tom Jackson and Luke Williams, which climbed into the final podium spot with only a handful of laps remaining.
The second race saw Michael O’Brien in the #20 Balfe Motorsport-entered 570S GT4 move up the order during the first stint from a P13 start, before the McLaren 720S Safety Car made another early appearance. A well-timed pitstop combined with a second caution period saw a change in the running order, with O’Brien’s teammate Graham Johnson moving into the top five. Johnson closed the gap on the front-runners and, in a three-way battle for the class lead, climbed to GT4 Pro-Am lead in the closing lap and a P2 race finish overall.
Meanwhile, Tolman Motorsport and HHC Motorsport secured a double podium in the GT4 Silver class. The #5 Tolman car, driven by McLaren Driver Development Programme drivers Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor, finishing in P2, just ahead of the HHC Motorsport entry of Luke Williams and Tom Jackson.