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British GT Silverstone 500 round-up

Text & Images: Ian Cutting

Victory for Garage 59's Shaun Balfe and Adam Smalley in the British GT blue ribband event at Silverstone while Jack Brown and Zac Meakin claimed top GT4 honours.


The wet, cold weather at Silverstone forced Race Control to start the race behind the Safety Car. Century Motorsport and 2 Seas pitted at the end of lap one to make the first of their three mandatory stops. Barwell, Optimum and RAM Racing pitted after the following tour.

Kevin Tse stayed out and remained untroubled leading from pole. Blackthorn's Aston Martin of Giacomo Petrobelli soon passed Tse when racing began. When the first FCY was declared, Petrobelli and the McLaren of Paddock Motorsport opted to stay out.

By now the Pros were aboard their respective drives and were soon chasing down the top 2. Dries Vanthoor and Phil Keen led the charge and wasn't long before Vanthoor took the lead in his BMW. Blackthorn were running Petrobelli for 80 minutes to use his minimum drive time and duly pitted  when both Century and 2 Seas were making their second. This helped the sister 2 Seas car of Maximilian Goetz, who by now who had taken over from Tse to take the lead.

When Goetz pitted for his Mercedes-AMG second stop, Century strategy proved successful. Leung pitted for the final time as the last hour ticked over and all seemed good for the win. The BMW however wasn't fully fuelled, plus Vanthoor would have exceeded his 100 minute maximum drive time. The team had no choice but to pit and top-up the BMW and to send Leung back out again.

With 50 minutes left on the clock the Mark Radcliffe and Alex Martin collided at Copse forcing a lengthy FCY and turned the race. This meant that teams who's Am drivers were coming to the end of their drive could had driving duties over to their Pro counterparts.

Smalley and Marcus Clutton in their Garage 59 McLaren's were able to jump aboard and reduced speed in the knowledge that those in front, Rob Collard, Ian Loggie and Tse all had to pit again.

When racing began again Smalley and Clutton were in amongst the battling GT4 pack. Clutton tried a lunge on his team mate and got in front, but opportunist Jann Mardenborough dived down inside the pair and into the lead. However it was short lived when he was taped into a spin by Clutton at Village.

This meant Smalley could retake the lead again, but Clutton soon chased him down and retook the lead. However, the altercation between Clutton and Mardenborough earned the Garage 59 driver a stop-go penalty. When Clutton duly served the penalty, Smalley again retook the lead to the flag.

Second went to the way of Team Abba racing who started back in P15 and had to serve a drive-through. The team took full advantage of the circumstances and with great driving from Sam Neary to finish just over 5s behind. Third on the road was Simon Orange and Tom Roache but a subsequent 35s post race penalty for contact and a Safety Car infringement promoted RJN McLaren of Mardenborough and Chris Buncombe, small consolation for what could have been had it not been for that contact with Clutton.

GT3 winners #59 Optimum Motorsport


Meakin starting from pole behind the Safety Car had to watch out for former GT4 Champion Stuart Middleton. However when racing began, Meakin found himself back in P4. When the FCY was in place so the stricken RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG could be retrieved from the gravel, Meakin was up into P3.

With the race now neutralised, the field pitted with Freddie Tomlinson emerging still in the lead with Mikey Porter in the Forsetti Aston P2 and Brown completing the top 3. However speeding under the FCY earned the Ginetta a drive-through and now Porter enjoyed leading the race. 

Brown though was chasing down the Aston driver and made his move for the lead and proceeded to edge out an advantage back to Porter. At the next round of stop, Meakin took over driving duties and stretched out the gap further. The final stop for the Optimum team was well timed during the last FCY and gave them more of a gap back.

With victory for Brown and Meakin, Porter and Day had to settle for P2. Mahiki's Lotus claimed the final podium spot after a great battle with Team Parker Racing. Having to serve shorter stops courtesy of being Pro-Am pairings the race was on for that last step. Seb Morris held the advantage over Gordie Mutch's Lotus. Morris was doing everything he could to keep Mutch at bay. Mutch made his move round the outside of Stowe towards the end of the race to complete the podium.

GT4 winners #90 Optimum Motorsport

The next round is at Donington Park May 25/26 for another three hour race.


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