The #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT driven by Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell took the chequered flag to win the Silverstone 500, the final round of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship, and secure the 2020 GT3 drivers championship for the Barwell duo..
Sandy Mitchell crossed the line 7.669 seconds ahead of the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Yelmer Buurman at the wheel of the car he shared with Ian Loggie.
Completing the overall podium positions was the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 driven by James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien.
The GTC category saw victory go to the #16 Team Parker Racing Porsche Carrera Cup entry piloted by Justin Armstrong and Ryan Ratcliffe. Second in class was the #15 FF Corse Ferrari 488 Challenge entry driven by Laurent De Meeus and Jamie Stanley.
Victory in the GT4 class went to the Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke / Rob Wheldon-crewed #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 with the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin AMR Vantage GT4 driven by Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan finishing second.
The podium positions in the GT4 class were completed by the sister TF Sport entry, the #95 Aston Martin piloted by Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble.
Caroline and Vaughan’s second place finish in class meant that the #97 duo finished the season as GT4 drivers champions.
Rob Collard led the field away from the grid but it was James Baldwin at the wheel of the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 that got the best of the start, moving into second place on the opening lap.
There was drama on lap one when Michael Brown in the #26 Ultimate Speed / Michael Brown Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and Karl Leonard in the #17 Team Parker Racing Porsche Carrera Cup entry went off. There as also an incident for Nick Jones in the #66 Team Parker Racing Mercedes AMG GT4 who came to rest on the circuit after contact with Mia Flewitt on the #21 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S Gt4.
A safety car was called and many of the teams took the opportunity to pit early, including the leader Rob Collard in the #78 Lamborghini, Barwell Motorsport immediately changing drivers to Sandy Mitchell.
Green flag racing resumed after 15 minutes with John Dhillon in the #13 Scott Sport / John Dhillon GTC Ferrari F488 leading followed by James Dorlin in the #98 MSL Powered by Newbridge Motorsport / James Dorlin Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4.
By lap 10, Sandy Mitchell in the #78 Lamborghini was back in the lead with Phil Keen in the sister #72 car less than half a second behind. Keen passed Mitchell on the next lap and immediately started to pull out a gap.
With 50 minutes of racing completed, Phil Keen’s lead had increased to nearly six seconds over Sandy Mitchell with Yelmer Buurman in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes in third, 8.771 seconds behind.
Keen pitted from the lead after 30 laps, handing the #72 Lamborghini over Adam Balon, and allowing Sandy Mitchell in the sister #78 entry.
Balon made contact with Sam De Haan in the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes on lap 49 and spun onto the grass, dropping the #72 Lamborghini down the order and out of contention for the race win.
As the three-hour contest entered the final 60 minutes, Rob Collard in the #78 Lamborghini held a lead of just under five seconds ahead of Ian Loggie in the #6 Mercedes. The #77 Optimum Motorsport McLaren, now with Brendan Iribe at the wheel, was in third and pursuing Loggie for the second.
The championship chances for the #69 crew were dashed when, with less than 57 minutes remaining, they were handed oa 10-second stop go penalty for De Haan’s contact with Adam Balon.
With 15 minutes remaining, Mitchell’s lead seemed secure while Yelmer Buurman, now of the #6 Mercedes, was on a charge and hunting down Michael O’Brien in the #2 McLaren for second. Buurman passed P’Brien for second but was unable to close the gap to Mitchell who won by over 7.5 seconds.
Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard were delighted to have taken the championship after a hard three-hour contest and Collard’s first year as a GT3 driver.
Rob Collard was delighted to have won the GT3 drivers title in his first year in the championship.
“I would never have believed it! It’s a credit to Sandy He really taught me a lot this year,” said Rob Collard. “I came into it thinking I was a good driver but I really struggled at the start of the season and had to learn.
“Teaching old dogs new tricks – they say it can’t be done but it can be done. Working with Sandy – he’s really helped me get the skills to drive a GT3 car with aero. It’s been absolutely fantastic to race with Barwell and with Black Bull as a sponsor. It’s been an absolute dream come true today!”
“Awesome!” said teammate Sandy Mitchell. “We’ve worked so hard this year and Rob’s done an amazing job and everyone at Barwell got stuck in.
“Barwell have some so close in previous years as everyone in British GT knows so it’s unreal to be able to get the win and top it off by getting the overall win on track today. I can’t thank everyone enough. The Black Bull Lamborghini was on it all day today. We went long early on and then we put on some fresh tyres, pushed on at the end and opened up the gap.
The first hour of the GT4 contest saw the Porsche Sprint Challenge champion, James Dorlin, take the lead of the class in the #98 MSL Powered by Newbridge Motorsport / James Dorlin Aston Martin. The Safety Car in the early laps saw a number of the field take the opportunity for an early pit stop, as did the two TF Sport Aston Martins, but both picked up stop-go penalties as a result.
Century Motorsport left Rob Wheldon out in the #42 BMW M4 GT4 and this worked out out perfectly as Andrew Gordon-Colebroke could rejoin the race behind the Safety Car.
MSL’s decision to leave James Dorlin in the #98 Aston Martin throughout the caution period meant that both he and teammate Alex Toth-Jones enjoyed a substantial lead over the rest of the field. However with two pit stops to serve in the final hour, it dropped out of contention.
As the race entered the final hour, the consistent pace and effective strategy of the #42 Century Motorsport BME meant that it got into the lead, which it held to the chequered flag.
Patrick Matthiesen, at the wheel of the #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren, was in second place with 15 minutes remaining but could not stop the pair of flying TF Sport Aston Martins who passed the #58 car in the closing minutes to take second and third.
The 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship season gets underway at Oulton Park on April 3 – 5.