British GT Donington Park round-up

Race wins for WPI Motorsport and Team Parker Racing in GT3 while TF-Sport Aston Martin and HHC Motorsport claim GT4 honours.

Race 1

Starting from behind the safety car because of the conditions on race day compared to qualifying to give everyone a feel for the conditions. Pole sitter Michael O'Brien in his Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren had a relatively easy run into the first corner once racing started properly after only couple laps. It wasn't long though before a great battle emerged within the top three. Rob Collard in his Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini and Sam De Haan driving his RAM Racing Mercedes AMG all racing hard with O'Brien.


As soon the pit window opened De Haan pitted to hand driver duties over to Patrick Kujala whereas the Barwell squad decided to leave Collard out as long as possible and play the long game. With 41 minutes left on the clock Collard pitted and Sandy Mitchell took over. Kujala took over the lead of the race courtesy of a shorter stop plus fresher tyres.


The WPI Motorsport Lamborghini with Michael Igoe made great progress in his stint from starting P9 and was running in P4 before Andrea Caldarelli was given his chance. It didn't take the Lamborghini factory driver long to pass James Baldwin in the Team Rocket RJN or Mitchell.


With only 20 minutes left of the 120 on the clock Caldarelli was a mere 6s behind Kujala. The WPI Motorsport driver wasn't to be rushed and made his move round the outside of Redgate and into the lead and on his way to victory. Kujala crossed the line in P2, 6.3s behind with the sister RAM Racing of Yelmer Buurman completing the podium.

Just behind Buurman was Phil Keen in the Barwell Lamborghini who set fastest lap and had to overturn a 20s success penalty.


Behind both Barwell Lamborghinis were father and son duo, Richard and Sam Neary, in their Team ABBA Racing Mercedes AMG. 18 year old Sam had a stellar stint and again his times were not that far off the factory driver's pace.

Race 1 GT3 winner #WPI Motorsport

GT4

Patrik Matthiesen led the field behind the safety car in his HHC Motorsport McLaren alongside Speedworks Toyota of James Kell.


Back in P4 was the TF-Sport Aston Martin of Jamie Caroline. A great first lap meant he was already in P2 and by the end of lap 2 was already in the lead of the GT4 field. Matthiesen was now doing his best to hold the everyone else behind him and this allowed Caroline to make good his lead.


Starting P5 Patrick Kibble in the sister TF-Aston was already up to P3 and challenging Matthiesen for P2. Lap 9 Kibble tried to prise P2 away at the Melbourne Hairpin but threw it away at the next corner, Goddards by running wide.


Kibble finally made P2 his 5 laps later but by this time was over 20s behind his team mate. 120 minutes of GT racing can throw all sorts of curve balls. Indeed it was to throw it at Caroline who had damaged his car in an incident with Ian Loggie's RAM Racing GT3. The damage had caused his rear splitter to drag and therefore compromised the aerodynamics of his Aston Martin. By the time Kibble was only 9s behind when he pitted and hand over duties to Connor O'Brien with 40 minutes left on the clock.


TF-Sport were hoping for a safety car or the track to improve, but had to bring Caroline in eventually at did so at the final moment. By this time Caroline had completed an impressive 42 laps. The #97 Aston Martin had to serve an extra 15s due to the success penalty last time out which allowed O'Brien to take over the lead. Indeed by the time all the stops had been completed, the #95 Aston Martin was enjoying a 10s lead over the sister Aston Martin and Daniel Vaughan.


Running P3 was the Speedworks Toyota in the hands of Sam Smelt who had taken over from James Kell to secure a podium for the brand new Toyota Supra.

Race 1 GT4 winner #95 TF-Sport

Race 2

With the track drying out the question was whether to start on wets or slicks. Both front row runners of Joe Osborne and Scott Malvern, Balfe Motorsport McLaren and Team Parker Bentley respectively, decided to start on slicks and immediately fell back to P4 and P5 when the race began.


It was Jack Mitchell who lead after only couple of laps who started back in P7 but had a great start on his wet shod 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren. That advantage of starting on wets however soon disappeared, both Osborne and Malvern re passed Sandy Mitchell's Barwell Lamborghini, Yelmer Buurman in hid RAM Racing Mercedes AMG and finally Mitchell before setting off into a race of their own. Phil Keen in the other Barwell Lamborghini (who was also on slicks) finally managed to pass the wet shod cars only to find himself 16s behind the lead duo.


Running fourth was Sam Neary in the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes AMG again driving beyond his years in these tricky conditions.


By the time the pitstop window opened after the 22 minute mark, it was the Bentley who was enjoying the lead. Both Pro/Am teams decided to wait until the last moment to swap drivers and hand driving duties over to Nick Jones and Stewart Proctor.


As both drivers resumed racing they were clear of the Silver Cup teams and Jones was enjoying a 6s advantage. Jones got his head down and build up an advantage. This was also helped by Proctor having to deal with the attention of Adam Balon who had taken over from Keen. Balon finally managed to pass Proctor and the McLaren at Coppice and set off in pursuit of the Bentley.


After winning race 1 the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini was running P4 despite the success penalty for winning thanks to Andrea Caldarelli speed before the pitstops. However Michael Igoe spun at the Foggarty Esses to re-emerge further down the order.

This allowed 2 Seas Motorsport and the Optimum Motorsport McLarens to try and get that last podium spot. It was Jordan Witt in his 2 Seas McLaren who managed to claim that last step.

Race 2 GT3 winner #66 Team Parker Racing

GT4

With the damp track drying it was a tricky decision to decide as to whether start on wets or slicks. HHC Motorsport Gus Bowers and Balfe Motorsport Euan Hankey both decided to start on slicks and even give up race position by both starting from the pitlane.


Pole sitter Jordan Collard's advantage didn't last long as Sam Smelt in his Toyota Supra soon past the McLaren. Jordan then had to deal with both TF-Sport Astons of Connor O'Brien and Dan Vaughan as they heaped pressure onto Collard.


As a drier line started to emerge Pro driver Hankey made the most of the slicks and the fact he was the only Pro driver currently running and wasn't long before he was P3. Only on lap 7 he made a move for the lead and was off into the distance. Such was his pace on the slicks he was even P7 overall mixing it with the GT3 cars.


Fellow pitlane starter Bowers was making a more steady progress through the field but by lap 9 was passing Smelt and into P2.


When the pitstop window opened on the 28 minute mark, both McLarens were 30s clear of the rest of the field. Hankey stopped last of the GT4 runners to hand duties over to Mia Flewitt after setting up a 30s lead.


Chris Wesemael now in the HHC Motorsport McLaren was some 35s behind Flewitt. Wesemael though drove hard and managed to haul in Flewitt and made a move for the lead at the Melbourne Hairpin with mere minutes lefts on the clock. All he had to do was to keep Flewitt behind for the remaining 4 laps and victory.


Completing the podium was the sister HHC Motorsport McLaren of Patrick Matthiesen and Jordan Collard.

Race 2 GT4 winner #57 HHC Motorsport

The next race weekend is at Brands Hatch 29/30 August for a 2 hour endurance race.