Burns/Burton take GT4 spoils
TEAM ABBA RACING DUO BECOME BRITISH GT’S FIRST FATHER/SON WINNERS
GT4 CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS HEAD CENTURY MOTORSPORT ONE-TWO
Richard and Sam Neary have scored theirs and Team Abba Racing’s maiden Intelligent Money British GT Championship victories during a dramatic two-hour race of attrition at Donington Park where Century Motorsport’s Gus Burton and Will Burns extended their GT4 points lead by winning for the second time in three outings.
Abba’s Mercedes-AMG started 10th after missing qualifying but avoided accidents around it to run out a comfortable winner from Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman. RAM Racing’s pole-sitters are now joint GT3 championship leaders with Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam who completed the podium, while the Nearys – British GT’s first-ever father/son race winners – vault up to tied third.
Behind, Century’s second BMW shared by Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke finished runners-up overall and first in Pro-Am after overhauling Fox Motorsport’s Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley.
GT3: NEARYS SAVOUR ULTIMATE DAD AND LAD DAY OUT
It would be easy to dismiss the Nearys’ victory as a consequence of others’ misfortune. But that wouldn’t tell the story of a remarkable turnaround following the brake disc failure that destroyed their Mercedes-AMG’s front-right suspension during Saturday’s second practice session.
Indeed, the team were confident before the race and immediately made ground at the start before Leo Machitski clipped Michael Igoe’s spinning Lamborghini, which was tapped around by Nick Jones at Redgate on lap one. The accident sent cars scattering in avoidance, but somehow Richard Neary just made it through unscathed to occupy second behind Ian Loggie at the restart.
The accident had serious repercussions for Barwell’s #63 entry and WPI Motorsport who lay first and third in the championship before the incident forced their early retirements.
The race resumed once both cars had been recovered but was back under caution soon after when several GT4 cars came to blows. Neary had been caught napping at the first restart but made no mistake second time and dived down the inside of Loggie into Redgate. His attempts to break clear were briefly delayed by a third Safety Car while debris was recovered, but he duly opened a three-second advantage once sustained racing finally began after 28 minutes.
Loggie was also able to gap a chasing pack initially headed by Stewart Proctor before Balfe’s McLaren was shuffled down to seventh in quick succession by Kelvin Fletcher, Adam Balon, Andrew Howard and Morgan Tillbrook. The Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and McLaren circulated together leading up to the pitstops before first Balon and then Howard found a way past Fletcher who was struggling for grip.
Back at the front Loggie had closed to within 1.5s of Neary before both pitted at the first opportunity. RAM’s 10s Success Penalty relieved some of the pressure of a race between mechanics, but Sam Neary still emerged with his father’s advantage plus RAM’s handicap intact.
The smart money would have been on the more experienced Yelmer Buurman chipping away at Neary’s lead, but it was actually the 19-year-old who slowly edged clear during his composed 55-minute stint to ultimately take the chequered flag 15.9s clear.
Buurman brought RAM’s Mercedes-AMG home in a relatively lonely second place after the battle for third developed into a three-car battle between Jonny Adam, Marcus Clutton and Sandy Mitchell.
The latter’s 20s Success Penalty dropped Barwell’s #1 Lamborghini from third to seventh after the stops, but the reigning champion again demonstrated his pace by passing Lewis Proctor and Martin Plowman, setting Sunoco fastest lap and hassling Clutton throughout the final 10 minutes.
Before that it was Enduro Motorsport’s McLaren that had looked most capable of denying Adam, but the Scot remained resolute throughout his stint to maintain Beechdean AMR’s consistent start to the campaign. Just 0.7s covered the trio after two hours of racing.
Proctor completed the top-six in Balfe’s McLaren after also passing Plowman late on. But Team Parker missed out on a points-scoring finish after a gearbox issue side-lined their Porsche midway through Scott Malvern’s stint.
GT4: BURNS AND BURTON WIN RACE OF ATTRITION
On raw qualifying pace alone Will Burns and Gus Burton perhaps wouldn’t have been the odds-on GT4 favourites for Sunday’s race, but the duo produced a flawless display across a turbulent two hours to score victory and extend their championship points lead in the process.
And it proved to be a double celebration for Century, with Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke overcoming an early penalty to snatch second overall and Pro-Am victory in the sister BMW.
Starting from ninth, Burns and Burton had their work cut out to fight for the win, but it transpired that a lot of it would be done for them.
Matt Topham started the pole-sitting Newbridge Aston Martin and managed to avoid WPI’s spinning Lamborghini GT3 at Redgate to hold the early advantage ahead of John Ferguson aboard Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Supra and Will Moore in the Academy Mustang, who had put in a great opening tour to rise to third from sixth on the grid.
The first Safety Car interruption bunched the pack, and when racing resumed a blanket could have covered the top seven. And that’s when things took a turn. Topham was mugged by both Ferguson and Moore on the restart, and was then caught up in a multi-car clash at McLeans for which Chris Salkeld incurred a 10s stop-go penalty for causing a collision. The accident accounted for Mark Sansom’s Assetto Ginetta, Ashley Marshall’s Balfe McLaren and Alain Valente’s Team Rocket RJN 570S.
That summoned a second Safety Car, which again prevented anybody from building a gap. Ferguson assumed the lead in the Toyota but was under huge pressure from the chasing Moore, Burns’ BMW and Harry Hayek’s McLaren when the race again went green.
Burns managed to unseat Moore from second and then wasted little time in nipping past Ferguson for the lead into the Melbourne Hairpin. It looked set to be a tight scrap from then on, but once again drama intervened.
Having lost the lead, Ferguson was busy defending from Moore’s Mustang and Hayek’s McLaren. The flashpoint came when Hayek worked his way past Moore for third and then nosed ahead of Ferguson whose Toyota tagged the McLaren’s rear exiting Goddards. The impact half-spun Hayek into the innocent Mustang which also retired as result of the impact.
With everything kicking off behind him, Burns was left clear to streak into a near 10s lead ahead of Jordan Collard’s Team Rocket RJN McLaren by the time the pit window opened.
Burns stayed out as late as possible to maximise the gap, and when he handed across to Burton for the final stint, he re-joined with a comfortable six-second margin and the contest was essentially over. Burton would eventually cross the line a full lap clear.
That left the fight for second, which was far less clear cut. James Kell took over from Collard and held the spot for much of the stint before some right-rear damage sustained early in the race began to take its toll. The team suspects the deranged exhaust may have damaged a wire, leading to an electrical slowdown that started to cost Kell chunks of time late on.
Kell was powerless to defend from Gordon-Colebrooke, who’d taken Century’s #9 BMW over from Salkeld and done a great job to bring it back up the order after the penalty. Gordon-Colebrooke eventually swept past into Redgate to secure Century a dream one-two.
With Kell struggling, Jamie Stanley brought the Fox Motorsport McLaren he shares with Nick Halstead into the final podium place after previously scrapping with Gordon-Colebrooke. Ciceley’s Mercedes-AMG recovered from a spin to finish fourth in the hands of Dave Whitmore and Jake Giddings, while Kell and Collard had to settle for fifth.
This year’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship continues at Spa-Francorchamps on July 24/25.