Sandy Mitchell, at the wheel of the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 he shared with Rob Collard, took the chequered flag to win Round Five of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship at an overcast but dry Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Mitchell crossed the line .649 seconds ahead of Michael O’Brien in the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 which James Baldwin started from pole position.
Completing the top three on track was the #9 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren, piloted by Dean Macdonald and Angus Fender, Macdonald driving the second stint. A 40-second post-race penalty, however, in lieu of a 10-second stop-go penalty for an unsafe release, relegated the #9 car to 11th and promoted the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG Gt3 driven by Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman to third.
Victory in the GT4 class, and an emotional win for teammates Matt Cowley and Jordan Collard, went to the #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4, Cowley taking the chequered flag 1.374 seconds ahead of, on track, Jamie Caroline in the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4. The class podium positions were completed by the #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke and Ben Green sharing the driving duties.
Due to the collision between the two TF Sport GT4 entries on the final lap, the #97 car was served with a 40-second post-race penalty which promited the #42 Century Motorsport BMW to second and the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 to third.
Pole-sitter James Baldwin, at the wheel of the #2 McLaren, led the field away from the start, joined on the front row by Rob Collard in the #78 Lamborghini.
The young 2 Seas Motorsport pilot immediately started to pull out a small gap to Rob Collard in the #78 car and by the end of the Lap 2 had a lead of nearly two seconds.
Further down the field there was an early battle for sixth place with Michael Igoe in the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini putting British GT returnee Andrew Howard under pressure in the #7 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3. Igoe passed Howard during the early laps of the two-hour endurance race and it appeared that the #7 car might have had a problem, the Beechdean AMR owner quickly dropping down to 12th by Lap Six.
Baldwin, meanwhile, continued to push on and had extended his lead to over seven seconds by Lap 11.
The leading two cars stretched out their advantage and, after 18 minutes of racing, Ian Loggie in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 was nearly 13 seconds adrift in third with the #10 McLaren of Jordan Witt and the #9 McLaren of Angus Fender close behind.
On lap 15, Loggie, under pressure from Jordan Witt in the #10 McLaren, ran wide at Stirlings, allowing both Witt and Angus Fender in the sister #9 car through into third and fourth. The stewards investigated the pass but no action was taken.
With 43 minutes of racing completed, James Baldwin had not put a wheel wrong and had extended the lead of the #2 McLaren to over 23 seconds from Rob Collard in second. At this point, the Jenson Team Rocket RJN crew looked to be set for their second victory of the 2020 season.
The racing gods however had other ideas and on lap 39 the #66 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 piloted by Nick Jones went off at Hawthorns after contact with Jordan Witt #10 McLaren. The stationary Bentley required a Safety Car just as the GT4 driver change pit window opened.
The race neutralisation meant that the considerable advantage that Baldwin had built up in the #2 McLaren was negated, just at the point when teammate Michael O’Brien was going to take over for the second stint.
After the driver changes had cycled through in both classes, it was the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, now in the hands of Sandy Mitchell, that held the overall lead with Michel O’Brien in the #2 McLaren now second, a little over the 1.5 seconds behind.
A second Safety Car was required to remove a stationary GT4 McLaren and when racing resumed with 21 minutes remaining, O’Brien in the #2 McLaren immediately set about chasing down Sandy Mitchell in the #78 Lamborghini.
Despite never allowing Mitchell to extend his lead to more than 1.6 seconds, time ran out for O’Brien and the #2 crew had to be content for second.
Connor O’Brien in the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 pulled out a lead of over three seconds to teammate Daniel Vaughan in the sister #97 car after ten minutes of racing with Sam Smelt, at the wheel of the #23 Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra GT4 pressuring Vaughan for third.
Smelt passed Vaughan at the end of Lap Eight and began to chase down O’Brien for the lead
By Lap 28, Smelt had got to within 2.5 seconds of O’Brien’s Aston Martin and was lapping consistently quicker than the TF Sport pilot.
There was drama for the #95 car, however, when contact at Druids with the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 caused the TF Sport pilot to drop back to forth in class and hand the GT4 lead over to Sam Smelt in the #23 Toyota.
After the driver changes had cycled through following the first Safety Car period, the #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 held the class lead with the#97 TF Sport Aston Martin piloted by Jamie Caroline in second.
Jordan Collard went off at Hawthorns in the #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 a Hawthorns bringing out the Safety Car for the second time, now with 34 minutes remaining.
After green flag racing resumed, Caroline kept the pressure on the #61 Ford Mustang and by Lap 64 was on the rear bumper of Cowley and looking for way past.
There was drama on the closing laps as both TF Sport Aston Martins hustled their way past Ben Green and, shortly after, contact between Patrick Kibble and Jamie Caroline resulted in the #95 Aston Martin going off. The contact was judged to be the fault of Caroline and the #97 car was given a post-race 40-second penalty.
Cowley held on to take an emotional win for Academy Motorsport, after considerable overnight work on the Mustang, and involvement from constructors Multimatic, to cure what was eventually diagnosed to be a Lamda sensor problem.
In the GT3 drivers title race, Barwell Motorsport’s Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell now provisionally move into the lead on 90.5 points, 16.5 ahead of RAM Racing’s Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala. James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien, pilots of the #2 McLaren now lie third in the standings on 68 points.
In the GT4 driver title standings, Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers take the lead on 82.5 points, half a point ahead of TF Sport’s Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan.
The 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship grid now returns to Donington Park for Round Six on September 19 – 20.
(Please note: This article was amended on Monday August 31 to reflect the post-race penalties served on the #9 and #97 entries.)