British GT - Snetterton Revisited

With the coronavirus still putting a temporary hold on the motorsport scene, we thought we would look back over the last 3 seasons we have been covering the British GT. We have already covered rounds 1 and 2 that should have happened at Oulton Park, so next up is Snetterton.

2017

The Silver Cup Macmillian AMR of Jack Mitchell made a great start from GT3 pole and disappeared off while the rest of the AM field played catch up. When he was due to hand the Aston Martin over to James Littlejohn, the lead was 14.2s over second placed Jon Minshaw, but with a success penalty of 5s to serve, the lead previously enjoyed by the Aston Martin soon disappeared.

At the earliest opportunity the Barwell squad pitted so that Phil Keen could put in some quick times to help with the deficit to the lead Aston Martin. It wasn't long before Keen was on the back of the Aston after breaking the GT3 lap record in his chase for it.

After some excellent defensive driving by Littlejohn he was unable to keep the Barwell Lamborghini behind him. Unfortunately for Littlejohn with 9 minutes left on the clock, he couldnt keep Keen behind him and made his move for the lead at Oggies and was off.

The sister Barwell Lamborghini of Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff started the race in P4 but benefitted when the Team Parker Racing Bentley pitted from P3 and had to serve their success penalty from the previous round. With Tordoff behind the wheel of the Lamborghini he soon too caught the Aston of Littlejohn and made his move round the outside of Palmer to give Barwell Motorsport a one-two at the end of the hour of racing.

Starting from GT4 pole Alex Reed in the Lanan Racing Ginetta was fighting to keep Will Tregurtha behind him, but by the end of the opening lap, Tregurtha was through. By the time the pit stop window opened the lead was now 5s, but the HHC crew had to serve a 10s success penalty, so fell back behind the Lanan Racing Ginetta of David Pittard, who was now behind the wheel, once the stops had all been completed.

With Stuart Middleton now behind the wheel he set about chasing down the Lanan Ginetta. Some great racing followed between the pair that eventually included the Black Bull 59's McLaren of Ciaran Haggerty. Such was the close of this battle that at one point the trio were covered by less than 1s. Middleton finally made his move for the lead as they entered Brundle and by the time they exited Nelson he was in the lead.

At the flag, Middleton was 1.4s to the good of Pittard who in turn was 2.2s ahead of Haggerty.

Race 2

GT3 pole-sitter Keen set the early pace for race 2 trying to off-set the 10s success penalty when they have to pit. Behind, Jonny Adam leapfrogged the sister Barwell of Tordoff but couldn't match the speed of Keen.

As the pit stop window opened the gap between Keen and Adam was only 9s, not enough for Minshaw to retain the lead and hand the advantage to the TF-Sport Aston of Derek Johnston. However, a Ginetta stalled in front of the boxed Aston Martin as Johnston saw Minshaw drive past.

A brief safety car period ensured shortly, but with GT4 cars in-between the lead pair meant Johnston couldn't capitalise. It was a drive-through penalty for the Barwell Lamborghini as they were just shy under the minimum time for their pitstop, that gave the lead to the TF-Sport driver. The penalty also meant that the sister Barwell Lamborghini moved ahead and now into second and stayed there until the end.

The real battle was for the final podium spot (once Minshaw had served his drive-through). The second TF-Sport Aston of Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes had been working hard to be in fourth after starting back in P7. They did have some help with cars in front of them banging wheels and suffering issues, but did have to hold off a very determined Rick Parfitt Jnr.

Over in GT4 the McLaren of Tolman Motorsport's Joe Osborne made off from pole position and into a decent lead followed by David Pittard, Stuart Middleton and Ciaran Haggerty.

The team made sure that they left Osborne out as late as possible as behind the Silver Cup pairs would be rapid once they had made their stops despite serving longer for the pitstops. Unfortunately a badly timed safety car meant that Alex Reed, Will Tregurtha and Sandy Mitchell had now closed in on David Pattison once the track was all clear and all past the Ginetta driver.

Mitchell though seized his chance to make a move on Tregurtha and was through, but Tregurtha was having none of it and tried to take it back again at Murrays. Unfortunately there was another Ginetta in the way of the HHC Motorsport driver and a collision was inevitable. The HHC Ginetta carried on, but only as far as Riches and the crash barriers and out.

Mitchell was now out front and by the flag was 11s clear of Reed. Completing the podium was Pattison to rescue something from the race after leading the early stages.

2018

Race 1 GT3 pole sitter TF-Sport's Mark Farmer led the race early on in the Norfolk sunshine until lap nine when both the Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin of Graham Davidson and the Team Parker Racing Bentley got the better of Farmer.

The Safety Car was sent out so the marshals could safely recover the stricken Balfe Motorsport's McLaren. While the Safety Car was out the pit window opened and this turned the pit lane into a very busy place while virtually the field pitted.

Jetstream's Aston Martin pitted in the lead and with no success penalty it should have re-emerged in the lead. Unfortunately problems and confusion in the pitstop meant that TF-Sport's Nicki Thiim was now in the lead. The Dane remained out in front for the remainder of the race taking the flag ahead of the Jetstream Aston Martin.

Further back Team Parker Racing, who were running P2 before the stops, fell back to P10 after a slow pitstop. This allowed Barwell Motorsport's #33 Lamborghini to claim the last step of the podium after circulating in P4 prior to the pitstops.

GT4 pole-sitter Ben Tuck in his Century Motorsport BMW was off as the rolling start got the race underway. By the time the Safety Car was sent out, the BMW driver was enjoying a 4s lead. The Century Motorsport pairing a Silver Cup pair have to serve longer pitstops than the Pro/Am pairings. As more or less the entire GT4 field all piled into the pits the Pro/Am pairings would be stationery less.

Indeed the Pro/Am pairing of Pattison and Osborne in their Tolman Motorsport McLaren pitted in P3 and left in P2 behind the Invictus Games Racing Jaguar who was now P1. A short pitstop saw the Invictus Games Racing team serve a penalty, but Osborne had already overtaken the Jaguar and held on to that lead to take the flag.

Behind the #56 Tolman Motorsport came the sister #4 McLaren of O'Brien and Fagg. This was at the expense of the UltraTek Nissan as they too had a penalty. Completing the podium was the Academy Motorsport Aston Martin of Moore and Nicoll-Jones. In fact that final spot could have been anyones between the McLaren, Aston and the Team Parker Mercedes as only 1s covered these three cars at the end of the race.

Again starting from pole for race 2, the GT3 TF-Sport Aston Martin managed to hold off the field until the pitstops. Thiim though couldn't make the break at the start due to the Safety Car deployment as a stricken McLaren of Barnicoat had to be retrieved. Once racing got back underway again, the two TF-Sport Aston Martins were running together, albeit 2s apart. Sorensen had leap frogged the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini at the start to be able to maintain some pressure on his team mate.

When the pitstops had all taken place, Johnston emerged in the lead courtesy of the 10s success penalty of the sister Aston Martin. Benefitting also from not having to serve a pitstop success penalty was the Beechdean Aston Martin who had now leap frogged up to P2 from starting P4. There the Aston Martin remained for the duration, glued to the bumper of the TF-Sport Aston and no matter what Howard could do he couldn't force Johnston into a mistake and the pair finished 0.5s apart at the flag.

Completing the podium was race 1 winner TF-Sport Aston who had managed to emerge just ahead of the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborgini after the pitstops after excellent work by the TF-Sport pit crew. The Lamborghini was soon falling back and indeed Optimum Motorsport Aston of Haigh had it in her sights and duly took P4 demoting Minshaw to P5.

Starting from GT4 pole, Academy Motorsport Nicoll-Jones managed to stay in the lead, but was soon overtaken by the BMW of Century Motorsport's Jack Mitchell who had started alongside Nicoll-Jones. In fact it could have been anyone of the top 6 who could have been leading by the time the pitstop window opened.

With the combinations of the success penalties and minimum pitstop times the order was soon jumbled and mixed. By the time everyone had served their stops it was Pattison who was out in front in his McLaren from fellow Tolman Motorsport team mate Proctor. It wasn't long though before Proctor made his move and into the lead and Pattison soon dropped behind Moore and Tuck.

The Century Motorsport of Ben Green and Ben Tuck had an eventful start. Green was up there at the front with the leaders when contact was made between himself and the McLaren of Dan McKay. This resulted in the BMW spinning and now down in P12. Green had already made up two places before the pit stops and as a result of pitting early and the Tuck's speed meant that they were now P4.

Tuck's speed soon had him past Moore and then a move down the inside of the Bombhole saw him into the lead which he held onto until the end, finishing 2.5s ahead and claim their first victory in the championship. In fact it was also the first time a BMW M4 had won in Europe in the hands of a non-factory team.

2019

Starting from GT3 pole Tom Gamble in his Century Motorsport BMW M6 made the initial break to lead, but that lasted as far as Wilson before Sam De Haan in his Lamborghini made contact with the lead BMW. While the top two had their altercation, Glynn Geddie in his Team Parker Bentley made a move to lead the race.

Gamble managed to gather up the BMW and rejoin the action in second while De Haan ended up fourth. Further back Richard Neary's Mercedes AMG Mercedes was involved with an incident with the Beechdean AMR that resulted in the Mercedes retiring with front end damage.

Geddie out front was slowly building a lead over second placed Gamble with the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin of Ollie Wilkinson in third, only just as he was fending off the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Adam Balon who was challenging hard.

With the pitstops due, the Team Parker Bentley in theory should have emerged back out front. Alas a tardy stop enabled the Century Motorsport of Jack Mitchell, who had taken over from Gamble, to take over the lead of the race closely followed by Phil Keen. Mitchell did all he could to keep the lighter Lamborghini at bay but an electrical issue forced the BMW to slow and Keen seized his chance and was away.

As Keen was off in the distance, behind it was all happening. Ratcliffe managed to get his Bentley back into second aided by Mitchell having his troubles and Bradley Ellis serving a one second stop go penalty for a short pitstop. The Bentley though was defending heavily from a queue made up Rob Bell, Jonny Adam, Seb Morris and Jonny Cocker. Bell and his McLaren suffered a puncture and was out. Adam was challenging Morris at every opportunity and when there was a glimmer he sent the Aston through. On the last lap Morris tried to repay the favour but made contact with a GT4 car. This meant that there was now a drag race between TF-Sport's Aston and the Lamborghini to the flag for that final podium. With just 0.082s between the pair, it was the Aston that claimed that final podium spot.

As the GT4 pack accelerated away, the #19 Multimatic Mustang didn't get a great start and while trying to pass it the #43 Century Motorsport was clipped and pulled off at the end of pit exit with damage to the front right wheel.

Richard Williams in the new Audi R8 passed pole-sitter Scott Maxwell and was off for the rest of the race. The #15 Multimatic Mustang had to serve an additional 24s (10s for winning at Oulton and 14s as a Silver Cup pairing) when the pitstop window opened. This allowed the Audi to remain unchallenged for the race and allow Sennan Fielding to take the flag with ease.

Josh Smith in the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren was running third with HHC's Callum Pointon just behind.

With the longer stop for the Multimatic Mustang, this plummeted them down the order. Dorlin now in the #4 Tolman was now running second and being chased by Fox Motorsport Michael Broadhurst. Broadhurst was in turn being chased by the #66 Team Parker Mercedes of Scott Malvern. Unfortunately for Malvern he had to come in to the pits to serve a stop/go for short pitstop. This meant Broadhurst was now in the middle of a Tolman Motorsport sandwich as Collard was challenging hard for that final step. Eventually Collard managed to get his McLaren passed and join fellow team mate on the podium. Broadhurst finally finished in fifth after another McLaren, this time the HHC version, made its way passed his Mercedes AMG.

Race 2 and Phil Keen in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini lead the GT3 field from pole ahead of TF-Sport Nicki Thiim in the Aston Martin. For the duration of the opening stint the Aston was glued to the bumper to capitalise on the 10s success penalty the Lamborghini would have to endue at the pitstop.

Both teams left it as late as possible to make their stops and duly came in together. This meant that Mark Farmer now had a 10s lead at the front of the field. Balon who had taken over from Keen emerged just ahead of sister Lamborghini of De Haan. Both Lamborghini's then started working together to overcome the deficit to the lead Aston Martin. This plan worked and along with some drizzle coming down over the Norfolk track, it wasn't long before both had passed the Aston.

The two Lamborghini's ran together for the rest of the race, the gap ebbing and flowing as they made their way passed the GT4 field. As they crossed the line, the gap was only 0.5s. The victory also meant that Phil Keen was now the most successful GT3 driver with the most victories, 17, to his name.

Completing the podium was the Balfe Motorsport McLaren. Rob Bell was running fourth before the pitstops keeping Century Motorsport's Ben Green, Adam Christodoulou in his repaired Team ABBA Mercedes AMG (sterling work by the time to fix the damage sustained in race 1),Jonny Adam and Bradley Ellis behind. Shaun Balfe had now taken the wheel from Bell and was chasing the Aston for that final spot and duly made his move towards the end of the race.

Scott Malvern managed to make the most of his GT4 pole position and enjoyed a 14s lead by the time the pitstop window opened and handed the Mercedes AMG over to Nick Jones. Because of the success penalties others were having to serve, Jones was enjoying a healthy 17s lead over HHC Motorsport Callum Pointon. With penalties being dished out for various misdemeanour's for Pointon (short pitstop) and Graham Johnson (causing an avoidable accident) Lewis Proctor was now running second, albeit 30s behind as they started the last lap.

With the win in their sights, disaster struck the Team Parker Mercedes as they suffered a puncture as they were forced wide by a GT3 car. Proctor claimed the victory after starting back in fifth. TF Sport Tom Canning claimed second as the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren was handed a penalty, but the HHC outfit still managed to complete the podium.