British GT Championship

Optimum’s Wilkinson And Ellis Win At Spa. (21.07.19)

Bradley Ellis, at the wheel of the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 he shared with Ollie Wilkinson, took the chequered flag to win Round Seven of the 2019 British GT Championship, Ellis crossing the line 10.520 seconds ahead of the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Ian Loggie and, taking the second stint, Callum Macleod.

The overall podium positions were completed by Glynn Geddie in the #7 team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 he shared with Ryan Ratcliffe.

Redhill-based TF Sport enjoyed a double podium in the GT4 class at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps with victory in the category going to the team’s #97 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 driven by Tom Canning and Ash Hand, Canning taking the chequered flag. Lewis Proctor, in the #5 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4, finished second in class, Jordan Collard having driven the opening stint. Finishing third in class was TF Sport’s #95 entry driven by Patrick Kibble and Josh Price.

Photo: British GT

The #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 with Ollie Wilkinson at the wheel led the field away from the grid into a scramble of cars entering La Source. There was drama for the second placed #69 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Sam De Haan at the wheel which made contact with Rick Parfitt Jnr’s #31 JRM Racing Bentley Continental GT3, casing de Haan to spin. Parfitt Jnr was later penalised for the incident.

Graham Davidson in the #47 TF Sport Aston Martin enjoyed an excellent start, moving from tenth on the grid to fourth with one lap on the board.

After two laps, Wilkinson in the #96 Aston Martin had started to pull out a gap to Ian Loggie in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and was over two seconds ahead, Wilkinson putting in the quickest lap of the race to that point on his second tour.

In the GT4 class, James Dorlin, driving the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4, led the field with a gap of nearly three seconds over second-in-class Ash Hand in the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin.

Adam Balon in the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini had a frustrating start to the race when the team was served with a ten-second stop-go penalty for working on the car on the grid immediately prior to the race start.

Mark Farmer spun in the #2 TF Sport Aston Martin while trying to pass Richard Neary in the #8 team ABBA Racing Mercedes. Farmer recovered and continued but the incident was investigated.

With eleven laps run, Ian Loggie in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes, who had pulled the gap back to race leader Ollie Wilkinson to under two seconds, found himself nearly four seconds behind the #96 car.

Huge drama occurred after 14 laps when Adam Balon in the #72 Barwell Motorsport spun at the Bus Stop and made contact with the wall. The #72 car came to rest on the inside of the corner and Balon was able to return to the pits but, with a damaged radiator, the race was over for the Balon / Keen driver pairing who led the standings at the start of the weekend.

Ryan Ratcliffe, in the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley, passed Ian Loggie for second with 20 minutes to go before the driver change window. Loggie then spun at La Source after contact, allowing Graham Davidson to move into third place.

Shamus Jennings in the #33 G-Cat Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, spun after contact at Turn 7 with the #47 Aston Martin and returned to the circuit with significant body work damage. The incident was to be investigated with consequences for the #47 TF Sport entry.

As the driver change window approached, Graham, Davidson found himself directly behind Ryan Ratcliffe in the #7 Bentley and was pushing hard to pass but Sam De Haan, meanwhile, had put in an excellent drive to pull the #69 Lamborghini up to sixth after one hour of racing.

After the driver changes had cycled through, the #96 Aston Martin, now with Bradley Ellis at the wheel, remained in the lead with a 13.789 second lead over Glynn Geddie in the #7 Bentley. Jonny Adam in the #47 Aston Martin retained third place after serving a success penalty in the pit stop and was 9.523 seconds behind Geddie.

However the #47 car was then promptly served with a ten-second penalty for Davidson’s contact with Shamus Jennings in the #33 Porsche. The penalty dropped the #47 TF Sport Aston Martin back to fifth and allowed Rob Bell in the #22 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720 S GT3 to move into the final podium spot.

There was disappointment also for HHC Motorsport when the #57 McLaren 570S GT4 ground to a halt with Dean Macdonald at the wheel. Macdonald got the McLaren running again and back to the garage, where the car remained.

In the GT4 category the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren, now with Josh Smith at the wheel, retained the class lead after the driver changes with TF Sport’s Tom Canning, driving the #97 Aston Martin, in second, just 4.386 seconds further back. Canning then caught up to the back of Smith and, with just 30 minutes remaining, was pushing hard for the class lead.

As the entered the last 30 minutes, Nicki Thiim, in the #2 TF Sport Aston Martin, was having the closest on-track battle, the #2 car running half a second behind Adam Christodoulou in the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes who running in the sixth place.

Jonny Adam, however, appeared to have an issue in the #47 Aston Martin, Adam Christodoulou in the #8 Mercedes passing the three-time British GT champion for fifth, quickly followed by Nicki Thiim in the sister #2 car.

As the race entered its last two laps, Rob Bell, running in third in the #22 McLaren, and Callum Macleod in the #6 Mercedes, had caught Glynn Geddie in the #7 Bentley. Geddie, Bell and Macleod went three-abreast into Eau Rouge and the RAM Racing driver emerged in second place with Geddie relegated to third.

There was massive disappointment for Josh Smith in the #4 Tolman Motorsport McLaren when contact with Tom Canning coming out of the Bus Stop resulted in damage for the #4 car and immediate retirement. The fluid dropped by Smith at the final corner caused a spin for Rob bell and concern for the following cars.

At the line, Bradley Ellis in the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin took the overall win with a gap of over 10.5 seconds to Callum Macleod in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes. Glynn Geddie held on for third in the #7 Bentley, less than a second behind the #7 car.

Tom Canning in the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin inherited the GT4 class win after Josh Smith’s retirement, allowing Lewis Proctor to finish second. The sister TF Sport GT4 entry, the #95 Aston Martin driven by Josh Price and Patrick Kibble, took the final podium position.

Optimum Motorsport’s Bradley Ellis was delighted at the win for the #96 crew.

“This is one of the feature races of the season,” said Ellis. “Everybody loves coming to Spa. Putting it on pole, in the lead – I couldn’t have done it without Ollie. He’s been a mega driver to partner with!”

Teammate Ollie Wilkinson was equally happy at the result.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Wilkinson. “To come here to Spa this weekend to British GT and take pole position and the class win, I’m absolutely over the moon with that!”

De Haan and Cocker’s seventh place finish mean that the #69 crew now take a half-point lead at the head of the GT3 drivers standings.

The British GT Championship grid returns to the UK on August 3 – 4 for Round Eight at Brands Hatch.