The one-hour Free Practice 1 session got underway at Rockingham under grey skies and an ambient temperature of a little over 11 degrees.
Quickest overall was the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 which set a 1:17.255 early in the session with Phil Keen at the wheel. Second quickest was the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3 in which Matt Griffin set a 1:17.662 in the first ten minutes.
Third quickest was the sister Barwell Motorsport Huracán, the #6 entry, in which ex-BTCC driver Sam Tordoff set a 1:17.766, again early in the session.
Richard Neary in the #88 Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, was clearly allowing the car to settle down after extensive rebuilding work following the accident in Race 2 at Oulton Park. Neary set a 1:21.044.
#59 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4, in which Akhil Rabindra set a 1:25.552 (Photo: Paren Raval)
Quickest in the GT4 category were the 2016 champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson in the #501 PMW Expo Racing / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 in which Mike Robinson set a 1:23.480.
Second quickest in class was the #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 in which Mike Pattison, who drove for the complete session, set a 1:23.811.
Completing the top three in GT4 was the #66 Team Parker Racing-run Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR. Scott Malvern and Nick Jones both had seat time during the session with Malvern setting a 1:23.884 in the first ten minutes.
Free Practice 2 gets underway for a further one-hour session at 11:45.
The four ten-minute qualifying sessions begin at 15:35 with the GT3 Am drivers on-track for the first session.
Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw in the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán took maximum points away from Oulton Park as they wrapped up victory in the second race for the British GT field of the day.
In a race full of incident and one that will be hotly discussed in the paddock, Minshaw brought the #33 Huracán home for the win when the one-hour race was red-flagged following a significant collision between the #88 team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Richard Neary and the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 with Ian Loggie at the wheel.
The resulting contact at Hilltop sent the #7 Bentley spinning sharply to driver’s left with the Mercedes left stationary in the centre of the track. Following cars had to take avoiding action to the right, sending cars spinning down the circuit.
After neutralising the race behind the safety-car it was decided that, due to the damage to the safety-barriers, the race should be red-flagged with over ten minutes left to run.
The final result placed the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin, with Derek Johnston at the wheel, in second place, followed by Mark Farmer in the sister #11 Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Chasing the top three up to the point the race was neutralised was Duncan Cameron in the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari F488 GT3. Given the minutes left in the race, Cameron must feel frustrated at the early culmination as the Ferrari was showing its pace with the race drawing to a close and a podium spot was potentially on the cards.
For Team Parker Racing and its pair of Bentley Continental GT3s, Oulton Park will be race the team will want to forget. As the grid assembled, the talk was that, with the success penalty to be taken by the Lamborghini crew and a drying track, this was Team Parker Racing’s to lose. However Seb Morris in the opening stint managed to make contact with his team mate Callum Macleod in the #7 car and was involved in two other incidents so did not hand the car over to Rick Parfitt Jnr in the position they expected.
The final insult was the collision of the #7 which brought out the safety-car, an incident that Ian Loggie laid firmly at the feet of the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In GT4, the provisional results showed a victory for the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT$ with Alex Reed taking the final stint. Second in class was the #29 In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4 piloted by Marcus Hoggarth.
Photo: Britishgt.com/Jakob Ebrey
In third place in the GT4 class was 2016 GT4 champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson’s, Robinson taking the second stint, #501 PMW Expo Racing / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4. The #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 was leading the class as the red flag went out but was subsequently given a penalty, moving it to seventh in class.
The second round of the 2017 British GT Championship will be held at Rockingham on April 29-30
Great Bookham-based Barwell Motorsport opened the 2017 British GT Championship season with a dominant performance, finishing 1 -2 at Oulton Park in a race that tested the abilities of amateur drivers and team strategists alike.
First across the line in a race that it led from the opening seconds was the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Phil keen at the wheel, Jon Minshaw having started the race. Second was the sister #6 Huracán in which GT rookie, although highly experienced sprint racer, Sam Tordoff fended off the eventual third place GT3 finisher, Jonny Adam in the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Nobody seemed to want to win the G4 class, with stop-go penalties being handed out for short pit-stops by the Race Director, and it was the #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4 that took the class win with Adam Mackay at the wheel, fellow driver Adam Balon having taken the opening stint.
Second in the GT4 class was the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 with Stuart Middleton taking the chequered flag. Third in class was the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 drive by Matt Nicoll- Jones, who took the car to the finish, and Will Moore.
The one-hour race started in the wet with pole-sitter Rick Parfitt Jnr in the #31 Bentley Continental GT3 having no answer to the pace in the wet of the #33 Barwell Motorsport entry with Jon Minshaw at the wheel. The Lamborghini quickly pulled out a 4-second which it continued to increase to over 26 seconds by the time the pit-window opened.
By the time the pit-window was closed and the driver changes had cycled through, the two Barwell Motorsport entries were lying first and second with the 2016 GT3 champions TF Sport in the #1 Aston Martin Vantage third, Jonny Adam having taken over from Derek Johnston. Johnston had driven a superb first stint and had taken the #1 Aston Martin from eleventh on the grid at the start to sixth at the driver changes. Adam pushed in the final minutes of the race and closed the gap to Tordoff to just under 3.5 seconds but, coming under pressure from Morris in the #31 Bentley, wisely chose to focus on keeping the third podium slot.
Photo: Britishgt.com / Jakob Ebrey
The GT4 class was being led by the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S GT4 with sandy Mitchell taking the opening stint until issues with the left rear wheel at the pit-stop forced a delay at the driver change.
The #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with Matt Nicoll-Jones driving took the class lead but was served a stop-go penalty for spending too little time in the pits at the driver change. The #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4 also suffered the same fate. However the lead that the #72 car had established meant that it retained the lead, even after the penalty had been served, and went on to take the class win.
The second race of the afternoon takes place at 15:30
The past seven days have been busy for the sportscar community across Europe as the British GT Championship hosted its pre-season Media Day at Snetterton, the European Le Mans Series contenders met for the Official Test Session at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, the FIA World Endurance Championship prepared for the Prologue, also at Monza, and the 24H SERIES started arriving at Silverstone for the HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE.
In the British GT Championship, Nick Jones and Scott Parker announced that they will contest the 2017 Championship in their Team Parker Racing-run Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
The duo had intended to run the full 2016 season with the Porsche but delivery issues meant that they were unable to get the car out until the Silverstone round and even then without the full ‘MR’ kit necessary for their entry to be fully competitive.
“We’re coming at it from a totally different standpoint from 2016 which was a very tough season for a variety of reasons,” said Jones. “But after working closely with Team Parker and doing a lot of testing, I feel like we’ve taken some big steps forward.”
Staying with the British GT Championship, the Media Day at Snetterton, after a foggy start, enjoyed some glorious spring weather, enabling the cars to stretch their legs. The championship has undergone some evolutions during the winter, something that Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici was keen to point out.
“We want keep the platform stable so we don’t need to change the format too much,” said Franassovici. “What is important is that we have live TV this year. Front Runner TV will be hosting our programme and we look forward to producing a great programme for this new channel.”
“We’ve increased track-time during free practice, targeted at the gentleman driver and the two-hour race format driving time has been increased from 60 to 70 minutes.”
The Championship Manager is also delighted at the entry list for the 2017 season.
“We’re again at capacity,” said Franassovici. “We’re very excited to see that GT3 is doing so well. It’s great to have new models joining British GT.”
Click here to read the full story on EnduranceandGT.co.uk.
Double British GT champion Jonny Adam spoke to the media about his thoughts on the new season.
“It’s going to be difficult” said Adam. “Last year wen had a great season with TF Sport and a new teammate last year with Derek (Johnston). It was a great season with great success but this year it will be really difficult. We won the championship last year, yes, but we didn’t have consistency in the middle part of the year so our focus is to have that throughout.”
The European Le Mans Series gathered at Autodromo Nazionale Monza for the Official Test. In LMP2 Graff was strong, topping the timesheets in three out of the five sessions. It was, however, the #28 IDEC SPORT RACING Ligier JSP2-17, driven by Patrice and Paul Lafargue, Olivier Pla and David Zollinger which put in the quickest time for the class over the five sessions.
2016 ELMS LMGTE Champions Beechdean AMR were highly competitive throughout the five sessions, heading the time-sheets in two. It was, however, the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup victors TF Sport who were fastest in class over the two days with Salih Yoluc setting a 1:48.720 in the first session.
You can read more from the European Le Mans Series Official test here.
This coming weekend will be busy with the FIA World Endurance Championship field taking over at Monza for the Prologue.
Also this weekend the 24H TCE SERIES HANKOOK 24H SILVERSTONE takes place at the Northamptonshire circuit. You can find the entry-list here. The flag drops at 4.00pm on April 1. Live timing can be found here.
Whatever and wherever you are watching, competing or marshalling at this weekend, have a great one!
Two-time British GT Champion in the GT3 class, Jonny Adam was speaking at the Media Day for the launch of the 2017 season for the premier national GT championship.
Adam, partnered for the second year with Derek Johnston in the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, is not going into the new season thinking it will be an easy ride.
“It’s going to be difficult,” said Adam. “Last year we had a great season with TF Sport and a new teammate last year with Derek. It was a great season with great success but this year it will be really difficult. I think everyone’s upped their game over the winter. There’s a new tyre with Pirelli. We’ve done a lot of testing with this tyre and it seems to suit the Aston quite well. What we want is consistency. We won the championship last year, yes, but we didn’t have the consistency in the middle part of the year so our focus is to have that throughout.