Matt Dock, at the wheel of his FIA World Endurance Championship – Fans Forum #59 Forum Aston Martin V12 Vantage, took the chequered flag .349 seconds ahead of Charlie Robertson in his Mercedes-AMG GT3 at Laguna Seca to win Race Two of the GT Challenge Europe at Laguna Seca, a two-race series contested by members of Sportscar Worldwide and the FIA WEC – Fans Forum.
Completing the podium positions was the #36 Fans Forum BMW M6 GT3, piloted by Neo Robson Parker.
Dock’s second win, and five of the top six positions going to the FIA WEC Fans Forum team, means that the Fans Forum wins the inaugural GT Challenge Europe.
As the practice session got underway, it was Matt Dock, driving the #59 Aston Martin, who went to the top of the timing screens but Charlie Robertson was quickly up to speed in his Mercedes-AMG Gt3 and was lapping the 2.239 mile (3.602 km) Californian circuit in 1:20.168, .308 seconds quicker than the America driver who dominated the first round at Maggiore.
The SCWW team needed a good result in California, having finished Race One 276 points behind their Fans Forum rivals. However as practice drew to a close, the FIA WEC Fans Forum team held three of the top five spots on the timing screens, SCWW’s Gareth Burgess being fifth quickest with a 1:21.206 in his Porsche 911 RSR.
A technical glitch meant that the ten-minute qualifying session needed to be re-run and Robertson, who earlier had set provisional pole with a 1:20.253, was immediately back on the pace, setting a 1:20.051, .439 seconds quicker than Matt Dock.
As the session drew to a close, Robertson and Dock were firmly established on the front row with Gar Campion’s Nissan and Adam Wareham’s Toyota FT-1 completing the second row. Of the top ten grid slots for the 30-minute race, the FIA WEC Fans Forum held seven.
Robertson led the field away from pole position at the start and immediately started to pull out a gap to Dock in the #59 Aston Martin. Robson Parker passed Campion for third.
Dock held on, however, and at the start of the second lap was a little over half a second behind Robertson.
SCWW’s James Horne, piloting the #84 Porsche 911 GT3, enjoyed a good start and by lap six had moved up to fifth.
Approaching the halfway mark, Dock in the #59 Aston Martin had closed the gap to Robertson to .02 seconds and was sitting under his wing as the first of the field started to pit for tyres. When Robertson pitted first, it left Dock with a lead of nearly eight seconds over teammate Robson Parker in the #36 BMW.
On fresh rubber, Robertson was on a charge and was up to third with ten minutes remaining and just over 12 seconds off the lead, setting the fastest lap of the race with a 1:20.638 in the process.
By Lap 18, Robertson passed Neo Robson Parker and was up to second and was now under 11 seconds behind the leader with five minutes remaining. There was a close battle for fourth between Konrad Osman and Adam Wareham, the #8 Toyota FT-1 piloted by Wareham passing the Nissan to take the position as the race entered the final three minutes.
Robertson in the Mercedes was pushing hard and by lap 23 was just 7.5 seconds behind Dock. However despite a huge effort in the closing seconds, time ran out for the Ginetta factory driver and Dock took the chequered flag under half a second ahead of Robertson. Neo Robson Parker rounded out the top three.
Courtesy of the WEC FIA World Endurance Championship Fans Forum taking five of the top six places in Race Two, they scored 786 points to Sportscar Worldwide’s 519, meaning that they win the inaugural GT Challenge Europe by 543 points.
Matt Dock was pleased that the strategy of the WEC Fans Forum team had paid off.
“Myself and the team had discussed trying to stay out of the pits because of the delta at Leguna Seca so we all tried to stick to that plan as best as possible.” Said Matt Dock. “I could see Charlie starting to slide as the race want on so I knew my chance was to either pressure him into a mistake or wear out his tires.”
Team Captains Adam Wareham and Sean Randall were delighted at the hard-fought racing and close competition that the contest brought out.
“I’m very proud of the team,” said WEC Fans Forum’s Adam Wareham. “We started off strong and worked tirelessly to bring home the result. Great commitment from our guys and I couldn’t have found better people of I tried. Thanks for the clean racing!”
“ It was hard-fought but, for us, an ultimately frustrating series,” said SCWW’s Sean Randall. “We would like to congratulate the fans forum for their sportsmanship and personally I’d like to thank our team. We will be back.”