A very warm sunny Easter Monday (unlike the washout last year!) greeted the teams as the 2019 season got underway.
GT3 Starting from pole position, the RAM Racing Mercedes AMG of Ian Loggie led the rolling start of 34 various GT machines. Unfortunately the lead only lasted a lap and a half as Ryan Ratcliffe in the Team Parker Racing Bentley. On the approach to Hislops the Bentley hit the Mercedes retiring Loggie on the spot, yet the Bentley crawled on but succumbed to the damage at Warwick Bridge.
Leading the race behind the safety car was the JRM Group Bentley of Rick Parfitt Jnr. Parfitt had already dispensed of the Sam De Haan's Barwell run Lamborghini at the start of the race. With 45 mins left on the clock the safety car peeled off and racing commenced again.
Barely had racing began the GT3 pit window opened. Parfitt had managed to extend his advantage over De Haan before handing over to Seb Morris who rejoined ahead of the other Barwell Lamborghini of Phil Keen. This is how it ended with the gab between the pair.
Behind, the final podium spot went to the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage of Wilkinson and Ellis. Wilkinson managed to pick off 5 places before handing over to Ellis who then turned maintained this to claim that last spot on the podium. Ellis though was hassled all the way by Jonny Cocker, who had taken over from De Haan, but did enough to finish ahead of the Lamborghini.
Century running the new BMW M6 completed the top 6. Both their Pro and Am drivers were running together in their respective stints. Adrian Wilmott and Dominic Paul though had an interesting battle as they exited Lodge. The #3 BMW finished ahead as Ben Green finished less than a second of reigning GT4 Champion Jack Mitchell.
Newcomers Multimatic and their Ford Mustangs shared the front row, but it was Jade Buford who managed to overtake team mate and pole sitter Scott Maxwell for the lead. Maxwell was soon down to third as Dean Macdonald managed to hustle his HHC Motorsport McLaren past before the safety car was deployed. Macdonald then proceeded to hustle Buford for the rest of his time at the wheel.
Just before the pitstops, Macdonald managed to squeeze his McLaren down the inside of the Mustang at Lodge. They then managed to run side by side up Deer Leap and along the start/finish line before Buford yielded at Old Hall.
Callum Pointon now at the wheel in the #57 McLaren emerged out in front but with the Tolman McLaren's chasing. Jordan Collard and James Dorlin were in fourth and seventh before the pitstops, but now running second and third. This was also aided by Maxwell having an off track excursion after coming together with the race leading Bentley.
The three-way scrap for the lead soon became a four-way battle as the other HHC McLaren joined the fight. Unfortunately contact between Luke Williams in his HHC McLaren and Lewis Proctor in his Tolman McLaren mean that Proctor's race was over.
At the flag it finished with a victory for the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren with the Tolman McLaren of Dorlin / Smith and final spot was the sister HHC McLaren of Tom Jackson / Williams. Fourth was pole sitter Buford and Chad McCumbee in their Ford Mustang, while the sister Mustang fell further down the order as the race progressed.
Phil Keen in his Lamborghini managed to maintain the lead from pole position ahead of a fast starting Adam Christodoulou, Seb Morris and Callum Macleod, who had fallen from second. An early safety car for the stricken Fox Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT4 closed the gap, but once racing resumed the Lamborghini once again established it's lead, but couldn't pull out the seven seconds that the team would need to serve as the Race 1 pitstop success penalty.
Once the pitstops had all been played out, it was Richard Neary in the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes AMG was out in the lead. De Haan was now at the wheel of the #69 Lamborghini emerged second courtesy of pitstop success penalties and running so close to those in front prior to the pitstops. Third was the RAM Racing Mercedes of Ian Loggie, again benefiting from the success penalties.
A second safety car for the retrieval of the TF-Sport of Mark Farmer meant that the gap at the front had closed. Neary was holding the challenge of De Haan, but succumbed to the pressure and ran wide at Hislops. The Lamborghini made a move and was now out in front and opened up a gap and finished two seconds ahead of the Mercedes AMG.
Loggie also lost concentration, ran wide at Cascades and dropped back. Now into third was the Beechdean Aston Martin of Howard and Sorensen. They were chased home by race 1 runner-up Adam Balon who tried all he could to overhaul the Aston.
Pole sitter Seb Priaulx managed maintain the lead ahead of Scott Malvern in the Team Parker Racing Mercedes AMG and the fast starting Matthew George in the Jaguar. They were able to enjoy being out in front of the rest because of the scrap for fourth place was raging. Josh Smith in his Tolman McLaren was in that fourth place ahead Martin Plowman, Luke Willams, Lewis Proctor and Angus Fender.
Pitstop success penalties and additional time for the Silver Cup teams threw the order all over the place. Once the stops had been served and safety car period had finished, Nick Jones in the Team Parker Mercedes, was out in front followed by the Jaguar of Steve McCulley and Scott Maxwell in the Mustang.
Jones had brake issues and fell behind while Maxwell now enjoyed the lead and fending off the challenge by the Balfe Motorsport McLaren. Completing the podium was the Invictus Racing Jaguar of McCulley.
The next round of the Championship is at Snetterton 18/19 May.