The season has begun with wins for Optimum Motorsport in GT3 and Track-Club in GT4 for the first race of the season. Indeed history was made as Flick Haigh became the first woman to claim a British GT race victory outright, this is on top of her pole yesterday. Race 2 was abandoned after heavy rain fell just before the start and continued to pour so much that race organiser decided to abandon the meeting on safety grounds.
Race 1 start. Source: Ian Cutting Photography
A cold wet race one saw pole sitter Optimum Motorsport with Haigh at the wheel start the race behind the safety car due to the wet conditions as heavy rain had just started to fall. Once the safety car pulled in to the pits, Haigh disappeared off into the Oulton Park gloom. Behind, Minshaw in his Barwell Lamborghini has already started to move forward and into second after lining up seventh on the grid.
Minshaw, keen to repeat his success 12 months ago at the circuit, was hunting Haigh down and managed to get the gap down to just over a second by stopping a lap later than the Aston Martin (who had Jonny Adam now behind the wheel) from 6.7s by the time the Lamborghini driver handed driving duties over to Phil Keen.
It wasn't long before the Aston Martin and Lamborghini were running together, but as they started to lap traffic Keen had contact with the #34 Team HARD. Racing Ginetta which meant that the GT3 Lamborghini had a broken wheel and puncture.
This meant that Adam was able to have an easy run to the flag. Behind the Aston Martin a great battle was raging between the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin of Darren Turner and ERC Sport's AMG Mercedes with Yelmer Buurman for the rest of the podium. Both AM drivers, Andrew Howard and Lee Mowle had a great first stint which enabled this great run for both factory drivers. At the flag, Turner claimed second by a mere 0.251s.
Despite the puncture, Keen was able to claim fourth due to the pace of the Lamborghini/Keen combination. Reigning GT3 champion, Rick Parfitt Jnr and new teammate Ryan Ratcliffe finished the race a lap down and the last runner of the GT3 class.
Optimum Motorsport. Source: Ian Cutting Photography
In the GT4's HHC Motorsport Ginetta of Callum Pointon started from pole position and lead the way behind the safety car and once that pitted was under pressure from Michael O'Brien's Tolman Motorsport McLaren, Ricky Collard's Century Motorsport BMW and Ben Tuck's Century Motorsport BMW.
Track-Club McLaren Source: Ian Cutting Photography
Back in seventh was Balon in the Track-Club McLaren but as a Pro/Am pairing meant that they had less minimum pitstop time compared with the Silver pairings in front of them. Stopping as soon as they could meant that McLaren factory driver Banicoat was given the maximum time behind the wheel to to and reduce the gap to the front.
Once all the stops had been completed it was the Track-Club McLaren that now was out in front. The early stop paid of for the Pro/Am pairing. By the flag the lead Barnicoat had over Ben Green in the Century Motorsport BMW was a just over 7s. Unfortunately for Green there was a penalty and this promoted Tolman Motorsport's O'Brien and Charlie Fagg to second in class and first in the Silver Cup. Completing the top three was the sister Century Motorsport BMW of Ricky Collard and Jack Mitchell. Reigning Pro/Am Champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson finished fourth in their Balfe Motorsport McLaren.
The next round of the championship is at Rockingham on April 28th-29th.