Keen claims prestigious Allan Simonsen AwardBlack Bull Ecurie Ecosse duo Mitchell and Haggerty named top rookies
The historic Tower of London provided a suitably stunning backdrop for SRO’s Night of the Champions and British GT awards ceremony on Sunday evening (November 27).
More used to hosting heads of state, it was actually British GT’s 2016 title winners that were crowned at the Historic Royal Palace on an occasion that brought together teams, drivers, manufacturers, sponsors and media from across all categories promoted by SRO Motorsports Group.
TF Sport’s Derek Johnston and, for a second time in as many years, Jonny Adam were presented with their GT3 championship-winning trophies, while PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson were on hand to receive their GT4 equivalents.
Johnston, who also picked up the GT3 Pro/Am gong, was awarded a personalised limited edition Blancpain 8885S timepiece as his prize for winning the Blancpain Gentleman Trophy.
“We’ve had a great season; it’s been tough and it’s been difficult but that’s part of the reason we do it. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself,” he said. “I’ve won many championships but claiming the British GT title has been spectacular. The car’s been everywhere since Donington! The trophies are great and the Blancpain watch is phenomenal - I’m over the moon with it! - but this venue at the Tower of London really is something special.”
KEEN NAMED ALLAN SIMONSEN AWARD WINNER
Only retirement at the final round denied Phil Keen a first British GT title, but the Barwell Motorsport driver’s efforts throughout the year were still recognised with the coveted Allan Simonsen Award. Three victories, including a memorable double at Snetterton - the first time that feat had been achieved since 2010 - set Keen apart from his fellow Pros this season.
“I feel very honoured to have been awarded this trophy in Allan's memory,” said Keen. “I had the pleasure of sharing the grid with him and witnessing his talent on a number of occasions. It is an absolute privilege to have my name on the trophy, and especially so given the quality of my peers. It’s been a great year for us and I would like to thank everyone who has supported and helped achieve what we have.”
HAGGERTY AND MITCHELL SHARE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR SPOILS
A standout year for British GT debutants made it almost impossible to pick 2016’s winner. Indeed, the judging panel ultimately settled on two given their contributions throughout the season. Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse duo Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell had never driven a GT car before this season but performed beyond their teenage years to not only score victories, pole positions and fastest laps but also spearhead the all-new McLaren 570S GT4’s development.
Both were fast and consistent, but also produced some standout moments of their own. Haggerty performed heroics by overcoming intense pain to win at Donington after injuring his right hand pre-event, while Mitchell became the youngest driver in British GT history to claim a pole position, fastest race lap and victory. Third in the final class standings was some achievement.
“It was nice to snatch third at the final round, especially as after Spa we didn’t think there would be any trophies at the end of the year,” said Mitchell. “But to come back the way we did was very impressive. I’d like to thank [McLaren GT Managing Director] Andrew Kirkaldy for giving Ciaran and I the opportunity to race the new 570S GT4 - I’ve enjoyed every minute of racing and helping to develop it. The same goes for Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse; together we put in a lot of hard work to get to where we were by the end of the season.”
“What a fantastic trophy haul tonight!” added Haggerty. “I knew we’d be picking up third overall in the class and second in Silver Cup but I wasn’t expecting to receive Rookie of the Year - I thought one or two others might pip us to that. It’s fantastic to win it. I knew before the year that the car would be fast and that I could do the job. The only question mark, with such a new car, was reliability. But once we sorted that everything else started falling into place. It’s been an awesome season.”
Team principal Tom Ferrier accepted the GT3 teams’ championship trophy on behalf of TF Sport, while RCIB Insurance Racing’s Tony Gilham picked up the GT4 teams’ prize.
Team Parker Racing chief Stuart Parker was another to go on stage after his outfit was named the inaugural PMW Expo Team of the Year. The Bentley squad was twice tasked with major rebuilds during race weekends this season, the first coming at Rockingham and second at Silverstone.
The Sunoco Fastest Drivers of the Year were also crowned, with Jonny Adam (again, for the second year running) and Sandy Mitchell recognised for their respective outright speed in GT3 and GT4 throughout 2016.
Meanwhile, Seb Morris received a cheque from Anglo American Oil Company managing director Anders Hildebrand as part of his prize for winning this year’s Sunoco Whelen Challenge. The Welshman will be in the US this January to prepare for 2017’s Daytona 24 Hours after scoring heavily throughout his maiden British GT campaign with Team Parker Racing.
2017’s nine-round British GT Championship campaign begins at Oulton Park on April 15 & 17.
2016 BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP AND AWARD WINNERS
British GT3 Drivers’ Championship1st Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, TF Sport2nd Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, Barwell Motorsport3rd Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, Team Parker Racing
British GT3 Pro/Am Drivers’ Championship1st Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, TF Sport2nd Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, Barwell Motorsport3rd Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, Team Parker Racing
British GT3 Silver Cup Drivers’ Championship1st Ryan Ratcliffe and Will Moore, Optimum Motorsport2nd Miguel Toril and Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Black Falcon Racing
British GT4 Drivers’ Championship1st Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport2nd Jack Bartholomew, Beechdean AMR3rd Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell, Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse
British GT4 Pro/Am Drivers’ Championship1st Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport2nd Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton, Ebor GT3rd Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke, Century Motorsport
British GT4 Silver Cup Drivers’ Championship1st Jack Bartholomew, Beechdean AMR2nd Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell, Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse3rd William Phillips and Jordan Stilp, RCIB Insurance Racing
British GT3 Teams’ Championship1st TF Sport2nd Barwell Motorsport3rd Team Parker Racing
British GT4 Teams’ Championship1st RCIB Insurance Racing2nd PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport3rd Beechdean AMR
AwardsAllan Simonsen Award Winner: Phil KeenRookie of the Year Winners: Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy MitchellBlancpain Gentleman Trophy Winner: Derek JohnstonSunoco GT3 Fastest Driver of the Year Winner: Jonny AdamSunoco GT4 Fastest Driver of the Year Winner: Sandy MitchellPMW Expo Team of the Year Winner: Team Parker Racing