Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse celebrated a double victory as Rob Bell brought the #70 McLaren 650S GT3 home to win the final round of the 2016 British GT Championship, ahead of the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Jonny Adam at the wheel. TF Sport’s second place ensured that Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam secured the GT3 Drivers Championship and the team won the Teams Championship.
Taking the third step on the podium in GT3 was the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 which Seb Morris brought across the line after a solid drive from driving partner Rick Parfitt.
The other half of the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse double was the GT4 victory of the #59 McLaren 570S GT4 which Ciaran Haggerty brought home. The #42 Generation AMR MacMillan Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, driven by Matthew Graham and Jack Mitchell, was second.
Taking the third podium spot and winning the GT4 Drivers Championship was Mike Robinson in the #50 PMW World Expo Racing / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 who, with driving partner Graham Johnson, drove a controlled race. After the frustration and disappointment of its shortened GT3 campaign, the Wakefield-based team must have been delighted to have secured the Drivers Championship title.
The story of the race was effectively written in in the first 40 minutes of a race held on a warm and dry Donington Park circuit. Derek Johnston in the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 led away from the line with Barwell Motorsport knowing it had to bring both the #6 and #33 Lamborghini Huracán GT3s home in points-scoring positions to secure the Teams and Drivers Championship.
However, disaster struck for both teams on the opening lap when the #6 Barwell Motorsport car, with Liam Griffin on board, made contact with the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with Mark Farmer at the wheel. As a result, Farmer had to retire the #11 car while Griffin limped back to the pits with a puncture. The #6 car returned a lap down.
Meanwhile Johnston, in the #17 TF Sport car, drove a champion’s stint to maintain a lead of just over a second from the #79 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S GT3 with Alasdair McCaig at the wheel. Jon Minshaw in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 was maintaining a solid third position until an off at the Kraner Curves in the 37th minute of the two-hour race.
After the pit-stops and driver changes had cycled through, the race settled down into its eventual top-three finishing order.
In the final standings, a delighted TF Sport won both the Drivers and Teams Championship. Barwell Motorsport finished second in the Teams Championship after Alexander Sims recovered the #6 car to finish sixth. Third in the Teams Championship was Team Parker Racing.
Rob Bell, driver of the #70 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650 GT3 was delighted with the finish to the season.
“It’s a great way to finish the year,” said Bell, “But also a relief that we’ve put it all together here. The car was good and Alasdair did a great job too. We like the circuit but felt a little bit anxious before the weekend for various reasons. But it panned out in the end. I was able to build a decent gap after the stops, but then I didn’t have a championship to worry about and could get my head down. I really enjoyed it.”
Derek Johnston, driver of the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, who maintained a cool, calm demeanour throughout the weekend, was hugely relieved at the end.
“I had Jonny in my ear every single lap saying ‘gap, gap, gap! It wasn’t about position because I knew I was out front. Even when I say Jon (Minshaw) had gone off I was still pushing hard. I do love Donington; It’s always been good to me, whether I’ve been racing bikes or cars. But we did it again, and it feels fantastic!”
In the GT3 Drivers Championship the TF Sport pairing of Derek Johnston and 2015 Drivers Champion Jonny Adam secured first position. Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen took second place in the Drivers Championship, just 4.5 points ahead of third-placed Team Parker Racing driving duo of Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris.
In the GT4 class, RCIB Insurance Racing took the overall Teams Championship after the #75 Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Aaron Mason and Robert Barrable finished eighth. PMW World Expo Racing / Optimum Motorsport pipped Beechdean AMR to second place in the Teams Championship, just five points behind RCIB insurance Racing and the same ahead of third-placed Beechdean AMR.