James Cottingham and Jonny Adam, driving the #4 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, took the win at Donington in round four of the 2023 Intelligent Money British GT Championship, Adam taking the chequered flag less than a second ahead of the #13 RACE LAB McLaren 720S GT3 of Lucky Khera and Euan Hankey, the latter at the wheel for the final stint.
Completing the overall podium positions at the end of the two-hour race was Jules Gounon on the #1 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes he shared with 2022 GT3 champion Ian Loggie.
McLaren took a 1 – 2 finish in the GT4 category, the #90 Optimum Motorsport Artura GT4 of Jack Brown and Charles Clark taking the class honours, Clark crossing the line ahead of #29 RACE LAB Artura driven by Tom Wrigley in the car he shares with Ian Gough. The final podium position in class was taken by #22 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT$ driven by Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato.
Shaun Balfe in the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan led the field away from the grid alongside James Cottingham in the #4 Mercedes but it was Andrew Howard in the #97 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 who got the best of the starts and moved up to second.
Disaster struck the #15 RAM Racing Mercedes after John Ferguson who cracked his sump after heavy contact with a kerb, resulting in the car returning to the pits and into retirement after three laps.
After four laps Shaun Balfe led Andrew Howard by just under a second with James Cottingham in the #4 Mercedes less than half a second behind the blue-and-white Aston Martin in third.
Howard passed Balfe for the overall lead on lap 10 and started to pull away from Balfe, opening up a gap of over a second by the following lap. Howard was able to extend the lead to over three seconds by lap 14 but Balfe fought back, however, and was putting in quicker sector times in a bid to get back on the rear of the #97 car.
There was drama for Chris Hart, at the wheel of the #50 Drivetac Mercedes after a bonnet catch issue allowed the bonnet of the #50 car to fly up, completely obscuring Hart’s forward vision. Richard Neary also suffered disappointment after a a brake issue, forced the Team Abba Racing owner to bring the #8 Mercedes back to the garage and into retirement.
Shaun Balfe dropped back to fourth, promoting James Cottingham into second and Morgan Tillbrook in the #77 Enduro Motorsport McLaren into third after having started from ninth on the grid.
As the half-way point of the two-hour contest approached, Howard in the #97 Aston Martin was less than a second ahead of Cottingham with traffic making life difficult for the Beechdean driver. Morgan Tillbrook was continuing to push and was under a second behind Cottingham in third.
As the driver change windows approached the safety carb was called for and the race neutralised after an incident involving the #3 Greystone GT McLaren driven by Mike Price. Heavy contact with the barrier for the #3 car resulted in Price being taken to the medical centre, considerable repairs to the barrier and the #3 car being out of the race.
After the driver changes had cycled through, it was Jonny Adam in the #4 Mercedes who had taken over from Cottingham in the lead with Euan Hankey in the #13 McLaren in second, courtesy of a delayed pitstop by the Beechdean crew with out-of-position cars ahead and behind.
Green flag racing resumed with 24 minutes remaining and Adan was immediately on the pace at the front. Jules Gounon, in the #1 Mercedes having taken over from Ian Loggie, was unable to make much ground to Hankey and gradually fell back as the chequered flag approached.
Marcus Clutton in the #77 McLaren made contact with Martin Plowman in the #11 McLaren, resulting in Plowman returning to the pits and damage to the #77 car.
At the end, Jonny Adam confidently held off Euan Hankey to take his 18th British GT victory and, with teammate James Cottingham, take the lead in the GT3 drivers standings.
“I’m over the moon,” said James Cottingham. “It’s been one of those weekends where we just worked towards getting the pace out the car and qualifying for me went really well and for Jonny it was great. We started the race from where we need to start. As I said at the beginning of season, I want to start every race from the front row. The first lap wasn’t quite to plan but I just did everything I could so I’m super pleased with the way it went, the pit stop and everything. 2 Seas did an incredible job – they got us out in front and Jonny did exactly what he’s supposed to do, just showing he is Jonny Adam!”
Four-time British GT champion Jonny Adam acknowledged he did not have a run-away victory.
“I was aware he (Euan Hankey) was catching in places,” said Adam. “They were a bit stronger under braking with the weight differences in the cars but, as James said, the team has done such a great job. They’ve worked so hard to get the set-up just where it was needed, the pitstop was super clean and James’ stint was superb so the championship is coming alive. We’re back in the points, second win of the year and great to do it with the team and James so roll on the next round!”
In the GT4 class. Jack Brown took the first stint in the #90 Optimum Motorsport McLaren and stayed in third during the first half of the race as Freddie Tomlinson in the Raceway Ginetta and Josh Rowledge in the DTO Motorsport McLaren battled at the front.
Rowledge passed Tomlinson for the class lead on lap 25 and Jack Brown also took advantage to move into second. After the driver changes, Tom Wrigley in the #29 RACE LAB McLaren led the GT4 class and, after the DTO McLaren of Aston Millar was forced to park after a power failure, Clark moved into second before passing Wrigley and starting to extend an advantage.
The battle for third was fought over by Stuart Middleton, Lewis Plato and Darren Burke with the #56 driver eventually coming out on top.
“I think we did very well,” said Jack Brown. “I got held up a lot by the Ginetta, which we managed to get past in the end – he was making it very difficult to get past – but in the end it was a great result. We didn’t expect to win here.”
Referring to the appeal and possible time adjustments, Charles Clark was happy to take the on-track victory.
“We don’t really know what’s going on (with the appeal),” said Clark. “It’s still up in the air, both the Silverstone result and here so we just had to get our heads down and win the race by as much as possible but it was difficult. Everyone’s a lot closer now and especially the safety car for 30 minutes didn’t really help but we got the win on the road so we’re happy with that.”
Results in the GT4 remain provisional awaiting the outcome of an appeal which will adjust the Silverstone Compensation Times.
The 2023 Intelligent Money British GT Championship next convenes at Snetterton on June 17 – 18 for two 60-minute sprint contests.