Wins for WPI Motorsport and Century Motorsport as the 2021 season blasted off around the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
With the race starting behind the safety car due to the Enduro Motorsport McLaren stopping out on track it meant Andrew Howard in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin lead the field. Michael Igoe in the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini however kept Howard in his sights and eventually made it through and into the lead.
Igoe tried to build an advantage as he had the speed as shown during qualifying but two Safety Car appearances soon put paid that. The first was when the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra ended up in the Hawthorn gravel trap after contact with the Century Motorsport BMW. The second appearance was the result of a clash with the RAM Racing Mercedes AMG and Barwell Lamborghini of James Cottingham and Adam Balon respectively.
Luck favoured Igoe on the restart as a GT4 back marker was in the way which hampered Howard, Leo Machitski and Richard Neary all making it tough for the lead Lamborghini. This intriguing battle allowed Igoe to increase his lead and when Machitski made it past Howard the gap was 4s when the pitstop window opened.
Phil Keen took over the lead but instead of the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Dennis Lind it was in fact the Beechdean AMR of Jonny Adam. The Barwell team suffered a broken GPS unit which dropped them two places. For the remaining 40 minutes the duo set about either maintaining the lead or cut it down. The gap between the most successful drivers in the championship history varied between 2.5s – 3.5s until the Aston faded.
As the Aston began to fade from the lead Lamborghini, Adam's attention was then drawn to the Lamborghini chasing him down. Lind had already passed Yelmer Buurman as they passed traffic on the approach to Westfield after going three wide to make the move. Lind caught the Aston Martin but couldn't work out a way past. The gap at the end was just three tenths as they crossed the line.
Factory AMG driver Buurman and team mate Ian Loggie finished P4 in their RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG. The Mercedes-AMG didn't quite have the speed of the Lamborghini or the Aston, but a trouble free race saw the reigning Pro-Am champions score solid points after starting back in P7.
Father and son duo of Richard and Sam Neary in their Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG crossed the line in P5 and in doing so claimed Silver-Am victory. Richard was part of the battle at the start of the race before falling away slightly. Sam though went about to try and chase down factory driver Buurman finishing just over 1s behind with lap times not too dissimilar.
Will Burns in his Century Motorsport BMW lead the field away once racing resumed after starting behind the Safety Car. The Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang struggled to keep up with the rapid BMW and then had to contend with a GT3 Aston Martin in-between the pair. Burns was keen to push on as they would have to serve an extra 26s as a Silver Cup entry, but the appearance of the Safety Car negated the gap he had worked hard to build up.
Burns pitted from the lead but the gap to the Stellar Motorsport Audi was only a few seconds and rejoined further back.
It was the sister Century Motorsport BMW of Andrew Gordon-Colebrook who emerged in the lead once the pitstops had all taken place. The brand new Ginetta of Charlie Robertson chased down the BMW and soon made his move for the lead.
Victory seemed all to be set for the Ginetta until a puncture forced Robertson to pit with just five minutes left on the clock.
Gus Burton rejoined the action after serving the extra time in the pits P3 and soon caught the sister BMW and made his move at Paddock with an excellent pass. This became the race lead when disaster hit the Ginetta.
Burton lead home a Century Motorsport BMW 1-2 and also claimed the Pro-Am honours. Completing the podium was the Team Rocket RJN of James Kell and Jordan Collard. Robertson managed to salvage P4 after the late pitstop.
The next round is at Silverstone for the 3 hour Silverstone 500 on June 26/27.
Words & Pictures by Ian Cutting