Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim picked up their second victory and third podium in as many races to vault into championship contention at Silverstone after recovering from a spin and overcoming a 10s success penalty.
The Aston Martin was running second behind Ricardo Sanchez’s RJN Motorsport Nissan when Graham Davidson spun Farmer around at Maggotts in the opening stint, for which the Jetstream Motorsport driver was handed a stop/go penalty. That gave Sanchez a 16s lead before the first pitstops began after 60 minutes.
TF Sport’s decision to swap Derek Johnston with Marco Sorensen early helped the #17 Aston Martin jump ahead in the second hour, while Sanchez’s co-driver Struan Moore dropped into the clutches of the chasing pack after his seat mechanism slipped backwards, shifting his feet away from the pedals. The resulting early pitstop to rectify the issue effectively ended the pole-sitters’ hopes.
At the same time Thiim was making progress back through the field and moved into third behind Sorensen and Phil Keen when Adam Christodoulou’s Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG retired with front suspension damage. Stopping later then helped the Dane inherit a lead that Farmer would retain when the second round of driver changes shook out.
However, the race was far from over thanks to the crew’s 10s success penalty for finishing third at Snetterton, which would be served at the final mandatory pitstop. Farmer pitted with exactly that advantage over Jon Minshaw, and when the Barwell Lamborghini followed TF Sport’s V12 Vantage in on the same lap it became a battle between mechanics and the stopwatch. Thiim then narrowly beat Keen off pit road and, with it, retained a lead he wouldn’t relinquish.
Instead, Keen’s attention switched to keeping Jonny Adam at bay behind. The Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin also driven by Flick Haigh started sixth but enjoyed four clean stints en route to its first podium since Oulton Park’s season opener.
Fourth should have gone to last year’s winners Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris who were reunited aboard Team Parker Racing’s Bentley as a result of Ryan Ratcliffe being taken ill with food poisoning this morning. So late was the call that Morris didn’t arrive at Silverstone until five minutes before his first stint began, by which time Parfitt Jnr had twice charged through from the back of the GT3 field after starting last – a penalty for changing drivers during the event – and then spinning mid-stint. However, the pair’s efforts were stymied by Morris’ yellow flag infringement, which resulted in a post-race two-place penalty.
Moore and Sanchez were also left to rue what might have been but still achieved RJN and NISMO’s best result of the season with fifth on the road and fourth in the final classification after finishing just 0.4s ahead of Johnston and Sorensen, whose 20s success penalty for winning at Snetterton took them out of podium contention. Nevertheless, the Dane’s pursuit of Moore over the final stint saw him claim a new GT3 lap record – 1m59.725s – and third-straight Sunoco Fastest Lap Award.
Barwell’s second Lamborghini driven by Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker finished seventh after a mid-race spin during a feisty battle with Thiim, Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell’s McLaren was eighth, and Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Darren Turner ninth. ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman completed the points finishers in 10th.
Team Parker Racing’s 2am finish on Saturday morning, the result of removing one car’s engine to rectify an oil issue and taking the whole front end off the second Bentley, saw it named PMW Expo Team of the Weekend, while Minshaw’s fault-free run from 12th to second helped him win the Blancpain Driver of the Weekend Award.