A beautiful morning greeted teams and drivers at Snetterton where the first of two 60-minute races began under blue skies and bright sunshine.
Mark Farmer led away from pole and remained there for much of the opening stint until Graham Davidson and Rick Parfitt Jnr passed the Aston Martin on the same lap as the race clock ticked past one-third’s distance.
However, the timing of a Safety Car – to recover Balfe Motorsport’s stranded McLaren GT4 – would turn the race on its head. The contest was still neutralised when the pit window opened on the 25-minute mark, prompting all-but two cars – both of them GT4s – to stream into a busy pitlane.
With no success penalty to serve Jetstream’s Aston Martin should have re-joined with its advantage intact. However, a radio issue and subsequent confusion allowed TF Sport’s Nicki Thiim to assume a lead he would never lose. Indeed, the Dane completed a straightforward run to the chequered flag 7.4s ahead of Maxime Martin, who claimed his and Davidson’s maiden British GT podium.
Behind, Team Parker Racing’s challenge also faltered in the pits when a slow stop saw Parfitt Jnr’s co-driver Ryan Ratcliffe re-join in 10th. Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw therefore rounded-out the podium after their Barwell Lamborghini completed the opening stint in fourth.
Optimum Motorsport’s Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam came through from ninth on the grid to finish fourth but were penalised 30s post-race in leiu of a drive-through due to contact with Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin, which retired during the opening stint. Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker therefore recovered from an early spin to take fifth on the road but fourth in the final classification aboard their Barwell Huracan.
While the top-five circulated apart after the pitstops, the battle for sixth raged until almost the very end. RJN Motorsport’s Struan Moore spent most of the stint trying to fend off TF Sport’s Marco Sorensen, who – try as he might – simply couldn’t prise an opening. He finally found a way past with less than 10 minutes remaining when the Nissan’s tyres cried enough. Yelmer Buurman (ERC Sport) also nipped through shortly after, although Moore did manage to claim P8 – which subsequently became seventh – despite Callum Macleod’s best efforts.
Haigh and Adam slotted into ninth ahead of Ratcliffe and Parfitt Jnr’s delayed Bentley.
GT4: PATTISON AND OSBORNE MAKE SAFETY CAR ADVANTAGE COUNT
The Safety Car’s timing had a significant impact on the GT4 result, just as it did 12 months ago at Snetterton. But, when then David Pattison and Joe Osborne’s victory chances eroded under similar circumstances, so they benefitted this time around to claim their first victory together with Tolman Motorsport and McLaren.
The opening stint belonged to Century Motorsport’s pole-sitter Ben Tuck who was more than four seconds clear of the chasing pack when the Safety Car intervened. Silver Cup pairings are required to serve a longer pitstop than their Pro/Am rivals, and when the field streamed in nose-to-tail it was clear the latter crews would instantly enjoy a 12s advantage.
Pattison pitted from third in Pro/Am but, despite Tolman having to service three cars, Osborne re-joined in second overall behind Matthew George’s Invictus Games Racing Jaguar, which was subsequently penalised for a short pitstop. But Osborne didn’t wait for the F-Type to serve its penalty and duly took the lead before cruising to a comfortable first British GT win since 2012.
Behind, similar penalties for UltraTek Racing’s Nissans helped Tolman’s #5 McLaren inherit second overall and first in the Silver Cup class. Michael O’Brien’s fast opening stint saw the 570S climb from seventh to fourth before Charlie Fagg took over. He then spent most of the final 30 minutes fending off Matt Nicoll-Jones, whose Academy co-driver Will Moore also ran third before the pit window opened, as well as Team Parker’s Scott Malvern whose co-driver Nick Jones pitted from 11th in class. Only a second covered the trio at the finish.
Two front-runners caught out by the late pitstop call were Century and Track-Club. The latter’s Adam Balon pitted from the Pro/Am lead and would have likely emerged first overall were it not for an overly long pitstop. As it was co-driver Ben Barnicoat finished fifth ahead of Ben Green, whose co-driver Tuck had seen his hard work wiped out by the Safety Car.
Daniel Mckay and Finlay Hutchison’s Equipe Verschuur McLaren and the third Tolman 570S driven by Jordan Albert and Lewis Proctor completed the top-eight, although the latter crew was penalised 30s post-race in lieu of a drive-through for overtaking before the start/finish line after the Safety Car was withdrawn.
That promoted Patrik Matthiesen and Callum Pointon to eighth after HHC’s duo recovered from their additional 10s pitstop success penalty, while Sennan Fielding and Tom Canning also worked miracles aboard their Steller Motorsport Toyota to finish ninth despite starting from the pitlane. Fox Motorsport’s Michael Broadhurst and Mark Murfitt completed the points-paying positions in 10th.