The #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala won Round Six of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship, Kujala taking the chequered flag 3.404 seconds ahead of the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 piloted by Phil Keen in the car he shared with Adam Balon.
The overall podium positions were completed by the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720 GT3 driven by Michael O’Brien and James Baldwin, O’Brien finishing 12.388 seconds behind the #72 Lamborghini.
In the GT4 category, the win went to the #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Patrik Matthiesen and Jordan Collard with the pole-sitting #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 finishing in second place, Jordan Albert taking the chequered flag 1.198 seconds behind Collard in the car he shared with Matt Cowley.
Third place in the GT4 class was taken by the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble sharing the driving duties.
The story of the GT3 race revolved around an early driver change by the #72 Barwell Lamborghini crew, brought about by a Safety Car on the opening lap. Keen took the #72 car over from Adam Balon and drove through the field to establish a significant lead before passing the car back to his Am teammate.
Sam De Haan, at the wheel of the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Michael Igoe in the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 both spun shortly after the start and a Safety Car was required to recover Igoe’s stricken car.
Adam Balon pitted the #72 Lamborghini and Phil Keen took over, a brave move which would eventually almost lead to victory.
At the restart Ian Loggie in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes found himself fending Rob Collard in the #78 Lamborghini, allowing James Baldwin in the leading #2 McLaren some breathing room to extend the gap to Loggie to over 5.5 seconds after 25 minutes.
Keen in the #72 Lamborghini rejoined towards the back of the field but began scything his way through the pace and lap 15 had already passed the last of the GT3 runners and was up into 12th. By the end of the first hour, Keen was up into fourth.
After the first of the driver changes had cycled through, Keen had a lead of a lap over now-second placed Michael O’Brien in the 2 McLaren.
After exiting the #78 Lamborghini and briefly catching his breath, Rob Collard was back in after teammate Sandy Mitchell suffered a slow puncture. Rather than waste the opportunity, Barwell Motorsport decided to put the ex-BTCC ace back in the #78 car in order to complete his driving time.
After 55 laps, O’Brien in the #2 McLaren pitted from the lead to hand over to James Baldwin while the #66 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3, winner at Donington the previous month, was pushed back into the garage with an electrical problem.
With 80 minutes remaining, Ollie Wilkinson in the #96 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 led from Sennan Fielding in the #30 Steller Motorsport Adi R8 LMS GT3. The #10 2 Seas Motorsport, now with Jack Mitchell behind the wheel, was third, just over 2.5 seconds behind Fielding’s Audi.
After 71 laps, Adam Balon in the #72 car was second with McLaren factory driver Joe Osborn in the #36 Balfe Motorsport McLaren in third.
Wilkinson pitted, handing the race lead to Balon who himself stopped with 32 minutes remaining to hand the #72 Lamborghini back to Phil Keen. Keen rejoined in fourth, over nine seconds off the lead but consistently half a second a lap quicker than the three cars in front. The #72 car passed Jack Mitchell in the #10 McLaren for third with less than 20 minutes remaining, after which Keen set about chasing down Michael O’Brien for second, the #2 McLaren some six seconds ahead.
On lap 109, Keen found a way past O’Brien and was now 8.5 seconds behind Patrick Kujala in the leading #69 RAM Racing Mercedes. Keen pushed the #72 Lamborghini as hard as he could but Kujala was able to match his pace over the closing laps and held a lead of over three seconds as the #69 Mercedes too the chequered flag.
Kujala was relaxed and confident after the victory, revealing that he never believed his lead was under threat.
“(I) was not pushed at all,” said Kujala. “It might look on TV like that but I was not worried at all. I was able to manage the gap no problem at all.”
Teammate Sam De Haan was happy that an early incident did not cost the #69 car the chance for the overall victory.
“It was quite an emotional race, coming from last place after being tagged under the first corner to come back,” said Sam De Haan. “I think we had a really clean race after that. I can’t complain – it was a perfect race for us.”
After victory at Donington, Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala provisionally take the lead in the GT3 drivers championship on 111.5 points. The #78 Barwell Motorsport crew of Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell move to second on 102.5 points while Adam Balon and Phil Keen are third on 94 points.
The pole-sitting #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang with Matt Cowley at the wheel dominated the opening stint with Cowley extending his stint for as long as possible to mitigate the effects of the Success Penalty the #61 car had to serve.
As the final pit stops approached, the #61 Mustang was the first to stop and heading into the final 45 minutes, Connor O’Brien led the GT4 field in the #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 but still had a stop to make. Once the #95 Aston Martin pitted, the battle for the class win was between the #58 McLaren and the #61 Ford Mustang.
Jordan Collard drove an excellent, controlled final stint to bring the #58 McLaren home for the GT4 win ahead of Jordan Albert in the #61 Ford Mustang.
The Intelligent Money British GT Championship now heads to Snetterton on October 3 – 4 for its penultimate race weekend of the 2020 season