TILLBROOK/CLUTTON AND COWLEY/MOORE ROUND OUT SEASON WITH CLASS VICTORIES
LOGGIE/BUURMAN RETAIN GT3 PRO-AM TITLE DESPITE MISSING OUT ON OVERALL
GT4 PRO-AM CROWN GOES THE WAY OF TOPHAM AND TURNER
Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind survived a nerve wracking wet/dry #DoningtonDecider to wrap up the 2021 Intelligent Money British GT3 Drivers’ Championship earlier yesterday.
Barwell Motorsport’s #63 Lamborghini came home fourth behind first-time race winners Enduro Motorsport and Morgan Tillbrook, as well as Marcus Clutton, to seal the title by 9.5 points from RAM Racing’s Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman who were one position and one second shy of stealing the crown. Team Abba Racing’s Richard and Sam Neary completed the podium.
Further back, Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Cowley scored their second GT4 victory of the season after overcoming a 10s Success Penalty to also finish runners-up in the Overall class standings. They overhauled Team Rocket RJN’s Michael Benyahia and Alain Valente after the pit window, while Will Burns and Gus Burton – who sealed the title at Oulton – rounded out an incredible campaign with their seventh podium in nine races.
Fox Motorsport’s Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley won the GT4 Pro-Am class but it wasn’t enough to deny Newbridge Motorsport’s Matt Topham and Darren Turner that particular title.
GT3: MACHITSKI AND LIND SURVIVE LATE RAM RAID
Machitski and Lind came into the season finale 18.5 points clear of Loggie and Buurman who had the additional headache of serving 10 more seconds during their pitstop. That, allied to a 20s Success Penalty for fellow contenders Michael Igoe and Phil Keen, made Barwell’s #63 Lamborghini an overwhelming title favourite before the start.
However, Barwell and the Donington Decider have a notoriously rocky relationship so it was no surprise when the two-hour finale, which started wet but dried sufficiently for slicks to be taken during the pit window, turned into a nail-biting afternoon.
They received a slice of luck on the opening lap when Igoe spun WPI’s pole-winning Lamborghini out of the lead at the Old Hairpin. A second off at Coppice soon after ensured Phil Keen’s long wait for a first GT3 crown would continue for another year.
That left Richard Neary out front in Abba Racing’s Mercedes-AMG, which had darted past Tillbrook at the start. Loggie then relieved Enduro’s McLaren of second as the opening stint ticked towards its conclusion.
Behind, Machitski was locked in battle with the other two mathematical contenders – team-mate Adam Balon and Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard. The trio ran together for a time before Balon was able to break clear and leave Howard searching for a way past Machitski who remained steadfast in his defence of fifth. Ultimately, light contact between the pair at Redgate sent the Aston into a harmless half-spin.
The pitstop phase allowed Abba’s Success Penalty-less Mercedes-AMG to increase its advantage from three to 10s over RAM. The newly installed Buurman wasn’t hanging around, though, and immediately began carving chunks from Sam Neary’s lead. But the same also applied to Clutton who homed in and passed the Dutchman before setting off in pursuit of Neary. The pair battled for a time until the McLaren slipped down the inside at Goddards and promptly pulled clear.
Lind, meanwhile, took advantage of his team-mates’ 15s Success Penalty to emerge fourth. Buurman was, by then, 30s up the road but two positions shy of the victory that would hand him and Loggie the crown. That changed with 35 minutes to go when Neary ran wide at Redgate and gifted the #6 Mercedes-AMG second place.
Barwell’s minds were now focused on the gap between the leaders, which yo-yoed between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds thereafter. Buurman looked to have saved himself for one late challenge but was denied his chance by Team Rocket RJN’s #2 McLaren grinding to a halt on track with three minutes remaining, resulting in the race’s early conclusion.
RAM’s crew still did enough to win the Pro-Am crown, but their disappointment at missing the Overall title was in stark contrast to Barwell whose garage exploded with delight when the race finished early. The same could be said of Enduro and Tillbrook who collected their first British GT3 victories, while Clutton stood on the top step for the first time since scoring three GT4 wins in 2011.
Behind the Nearys and Machitski/Lind – who set Sunoco Fastest Lap for the sixth time in seven events – came outgoing champion Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon. Fifth place, despite their Success Penalty, was still sufficient to finish third in the final standings.
Team Parker Racing’s Porsche ended the opening stint sixth thanks to Nick Jones whose co-driver Scott Malvern wasn’t quite able to pass Mitchell after the stops.
Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey overcame an early spin to bring Team Rocket RJN’s McLaren home seventh and ahead of Beechdean AMR, Balfe and Paddock after all three also suffered their own misdemeanours.
GT4: MOORE AND COWLEY SAVE THEIR BEST ‘TIL LAST
Will Moore and Matt Cowley successfully overturned a 10s Success Penalty to claim their second British GT4 victory of the year and end their season as overall championship runners-up at Donington Park.
With the track still sodden after morning rain, virtually the entire GT4 field opted for wet-weather Pirellis in conditions that upset the pecking order from qualifying.
Richard Williams started the Steller Motorsport Audi from pole but struggled for grip in the conditions, something the team suggested stemmed from a tyre issue. With the early leader struggling, Moore wasted little time in out-dragging the R8 around the outside at Schwantz Curve on lap three, as Michael Benyahia in the #3 Team Rocket RJN McLaren began to also pile on the pressure for second, eventually following the Ford through at Goddards a lap later.
Newly crowned champions Will Burns and Gus Burton were the next to demote Williams, with Burns snatching third. This established a fast-paced top three that quickly pulled clear of the pack.
The order shuffled between them, with first Benyahia and then Burns taking turns out front as the trio ran as a train. Moore nearly lost touch with the top two when he skittered through the Fogarty Esses gravel just before the pit window opened, but he gathered the moment nicely to keep the car in contention.
With Burns and Burton needing to spend an additional 20s stationary in the pits after their victory last time out at Oulton Park, Burns ran as long as he could but couldn’t find enough time to erase the deficit.
Moore and Benyahia pitted together, with Alain Valente emerging in the #3 McLaren some nine seconds clear of Cowley once the Mustang had served its own 10s penalty from Oulton. However, with conditions now favouring slick tyres, Valente had no answer to the pace of Cowley who gradually chipped away at the McLaren’s advantage before slipping past for a lead he wouldn’t lose on lap 48. The victory also elevated Moore and Cowley into second place in the overall GT4 standings – a fine reward for the crew’s strong late-season form.
Valente stayed in touch but couldn’t truly trouble the leader and instead settled for second as Burton brought Century’s gold-tinted title winning BMW home for a seventh podium of the campaign.
The tricky conditions in the first stint widened the gap between the Silver Cup and Pro-Am crews, with the top three finishing the best part of a minute clear of Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley’s Pro-Am winning Fox McLaren in fourth place. That crew were engaged in a superb race-long battle with Matt Topham and Darren Turner’s Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin for both Pro-Am’s race and championship honours. Halstead managed to eventually forge the definitive gap when Topham was badly delayed in traffic, but even the win wasn’t enough to dislodge Newbridge from the top of the class points – fifth overall and second in class being enough to clinch the Pro-Am crown for Topham and Turner.
Century Motorsport’s guesting Aston Martin of David Holloway and Bradley Ellis came home sixth, ahead of the #4 Rocket RJN McLaren shared by Katie Milner and Harry Hayek. Jack Brown and Ashley Marshall’s Balfe McLaren rounded out the top eight.
James Kell and Jordan Collard lost the chance to improve on their championship position when Collard ground to a halt in the closing stages with a technical issue, bringing out the red flags. Shortly before that Sennan Fielding was forced to park Steller’s pole-sitting Audi after a loss of power.