The #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Timur Boguslavskiy and, taking the chequered flag, Raffaele Marciello took the chequered flag to win Race One of the Brands Hatch Sprint Cup double-header for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS on track. However, a review by the race stewards following the incident involving the #38 JOTA McLaren resulted in a 40-second time penalty for the #88 duo, placing them 17th on the overall finishers.
The race finished behind the safety car after a violent accident in the closing laps which saw the #38 JOTA McLaren 720S driven by Oliver Wilkinson vault the barrier at Dingle Dell and end up in the woods. Wilkinson walked unaided from the car and was taken to the circuit medical centre for further checks.
The amended race results now place the #32 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS driven by Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor as winners with the #6 Mercedes-AMG Toksport WRT Mercedes driven by Luca Stolz and Maro Engel in second.
Completing the amended top three was the #31 Silver Cup Team WRT Audi of Frank Bird and Ryuichiro Tomita.
The #14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Ricardo Feller and Alex Fontana finished first in the Silver Cup class on track but were handed a 30-second post race penalty due to a pit stop infringement. With the #31 car being inheriting the win, the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes of Ezequiel Perez Companc and Rik Breukers moved into second place. The top three in class was completed by the #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes of Juuso Puhakka and Oscar Tunjo.
The Pro-Am class was won by the #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini driven by Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves with the #52 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini finishing second.
After being penalised two grid positions for impeding cars during qualifying, Ben Barnicoat in the #38 JOTA McLaren 720S GT3 started from third on the grid but was on a charge and blasted into the lead on the opening lap after which the Chesterfield driver started to pull out an advantage which, by lap 4, was out to over six seconds.
By lap 4 the #38 McLaren’s lead was out to over eight seconds from Boguslavskiy in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes with Luca Stolz, at the wheel of the #6 Mercedes, snapping at the heels of the Russian pilot, less than half a second behind.
The #38 McLaren was over 11 seconds ahead of the #88 Mercedes as the 60-minutes contest approached the end of the first 15 minutes with Barnicoat’s best lap almost over three quarters of a second quicker then the rest of the field.
As the pit window approached Barnicoat’s lead was up to over 14.5 seconds with Luca Stolz in the #6 Mercedes still struggling to find a way past the #88 Mercedes for second.
Of the leading runners, Boguslavskiy, Stolz and Weerts were the first to pit with JOTA opting to leave Ben Barnicoat out.
By the time the driver changes had cycled through, Ollie Wilkinson, now at the wheel of the #38 McLaren held a lead of nearly nine second ahead of Raffaele Marciello in the 88 Mercedes.
Marciello knew he had the pace on Wilkinson and the gap from first to second was down to 6.5 seconds by lap 36. Dries Vanthoor, in third, was unable to challenge the AKKA ASP Mercedes and was 4.337 seconds back.
As the race entered its final laps, Marciello had closed to the back of Wilkinson’s McLaren and was pushing hard to find a way past. Wilkinson, however, defended for all he was worth and making the #38 a very wide car.
The battle reached its climax when Marciello saw his opportunity in traffic exiting Westfield. In an incident that will be studied in detail by the stewards, Wilkinson passed Marciello on the right, the two made contact and the #38 McLaren slewed to the left, off the circuit and hit the barriers. The car finished up outside the barrier with Wilkinson making a quick, thankfully uninjured,exit.
The race finished behind the safety car.
Raffaele Marciello was apologetic about the incident but explained that he had nowhere to go in the traffic.
“I want to see the video again but, from my point of view, the track is quite narrow and the Ferrari wanted to let me past at what was probably the wrong moment when we were side-by-side with the McLaren,” explained Marciello. “I then got sandwiched between the two. I didn’t want to push him out of course. I’m not a dirty driver. I think it’s just unfortunate.
“I’m sorry and I’m sorry for them. I didn’t want to make contact but the track is really narrow and I had nowhere to go and then we can see what happened after that.”
Immediately following the race, the stewards reviewed footage of the incident, resulting in a 40-second post race penalty for the #88 car.
Full race review to follow.
Race Two is scheduled to get underway at 15:45.