Beechdean Motorsport pairing Jonathan Adam and Andrew Howard secured victory in the final round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Silverstone, but third place was good enough to clinch the 2011 title for CRS Racing pair Glynn and Jim Geddie.
The two-hour season finale saw the championship fight – which featured a dozen drivers – swing one way and another before Glynn Geddie brought his Ferrari 458 Italia to the finish to secure the points needed to wrap up the title.
In the GT4 class, the championship title was won by ABG Motorsport’s KTM pairing Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw, for whom second in class in the race, behind Lotus duo Chris Holmes and Phil Glew, was enough.
The early stages of the race had been dominated by the Audi of Joe Osborne, which had been added to the United Autosports line-up to aid the championship challenge of Mike Guasch and Matt Bell. Having qualified on the second row of the grid, Osborne moved into second place at Stowe on lap one and then took the lead from David Ashburn’s Trackspeed Porsche on lap two before streaking away at the head of the field.
Behind, Charles Bateman attempted to give chase in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari, having worked his way up to second place with defending champion Ashburn running in third. Poleman Howard, meanwhile, had slipped back the order to fifth by the end of the second lap.
As the first half of the race played out, United Autosports’ decision to put Osborne out for the opening stint saw him increase his lead to the best part of half a minute from Bateman behind, while Howard – after a difficult opening few laps – fought his way back ahead of the Porsches of Gregor Fisken and Ashburn to go third.
Heading towards half-way and the start of the driver changes, Bateman and team-mate Michael Lyons found themselves as the men to beat in the championship, with Jim Geddie running down in eighth.
However, the race would be turned on its head when Paul Whight went off in his GT3B class Aston Martin DBSR9 exiting Stowe, with the car going backwards into the tyre wall on the inside of the circuit.
Just as the field started to cycle through the mandatory stops, the Safety Car was deployed to allow the Aston Martin to be recovered, with a number of cars electing to pit straight away – although the leading Audi wasn’t amongst them.
Osborne was however waved through by the Safety Car and then elected to pit, which allowed team-mate Zak Brown to resume in the lead. With the Safety Car having not picked up the leading car, there was then a lengthy run under caution before the race resumed with Brown leading in the Audi from Michael Lyons in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari and Godfrey Jones in the Preci-Spark Mercedes, which had made up places after a strong opening stint from twin brother David, who was handed the Sunoco Driver of the Day award for his efforts.
Jonny Adam was fourth ahead of Richard Westbrook’s Porsche, with Glynn Geddie sitting sixth. As it stood therefore on the restart, Lyons and Bateman were set to take the title by a single point.
Within a matter of laps of the restart, however, that all changed, as Adam, Westbrook and Geddie all got ahead of Jones Mercedes in quick succession – with fifth place set to hand the Geddies the championship crown.
Having been able to close on Lyons thanks to the Safety Car, Westbrook and Geddie then moved ahead of the double race winner while, out front, Adam took little time in reeling-in Brown’s Audi to move into the lead in his Aston Martin. Lyons slipped behind both Tim Bridgman and Matt Griffin before his title hopes were ended by a drive-through penalty for exceeding the track limits. Griffin’s hopes of taking the crown for MTech also came to nought when he was given a stop-go penalty for a pit-stop infringement.
As Adam pulled away at the front of the field, Brown tried his best to defend second from Westbrook before ceding position to the Porsche, and Geddie eventually followed him through into third, albeit only after a huge battle with Brown’s Audi which saw the two cars almost banging wheels on more than one occasion.
With Westbrook and Geddie then fighting over second, Adam found himself unchallenged at the front of the field and he successfully brought the Beechdean Aston Martin home to the finish to take victory in what will be the car’s final race before retirement.
It marked a second victory of the season for the pair, who won in the wet at Rockingham earlier in the year. “These type of circuits suit the Aston perfectly,” Howard said. “It was fantastic. We’ve had a good run, staying dry was important to us, but the old girl has really shown what she can do. She’s pensioned off now, we’ve just soaked her in champagne, but she’s not being sold. She’s going to be put away in a nice warm place, it’s what she deserves.”
Behind the Aston Martin, Westbrook took the flag second despite struggling with tyre wear as the race wore on, which allowed Geddie to close in behind.
Although third would have been enough to secure the title, Geddie gave his all to try to find a way through but as the two cars exited Luffield for the final time, it was the #1 Trackspeed Porsche that crossed the line second, with Geddie still behind.
Title success for the Scottish pair came despite them failing to win a race all season, with the championship instead being the reward of a consistent approach over the course of the year. “Qualifying wasn’t great but come the race Jim did a great job,” Glynn said. “He had a close call with a couple of cars and then when the safety car came out on the lap that we pitted, it looked like a disaster for us. But everything worked out okay in the end.
“The last couple of laps were a bit intense as I tried to get a step up the podium; in the end I backed out of it because we had won the championship.”
Father Glynn was equally delighted with the championship title: “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said. “I was so nervous I was sick before the race, and I was sick again after I got out of the car. I would definitely like to come back to defend the title next year. We didn’t have the best of starts to our season but I’m delighted to have won it. I’d like to come back next year after some proper winter testing and be on the ball from the first race.”
Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman took fourth place for Trackspeed while the Jones brothers crossed the line fifth. Despite Osborne’s earlier heroics, Brown had to settle for sixth at the wheel of the #29 Audi, ahead of a disappointed Lyons and Bateman, who crossed the line seventh after their drive-through.
Of the other drivers who had help championship aspirations before the start, Griffin and Cameron took ninth while Hector Lester finished just outside the points in 11th. Mike Guasch and Matt Bell meanwhile ended the race 22nd after losing time in the pit repairing damage picked up in contact on track.
As was the case in the penultimate race of the season, at Donington Park a fortnight ago, the Lotus Sport UK team took GT4 victory thanks to the #48 Evora. Having qualified on class pole, Glew led the class early on ahead of the Ginetta of Dan Denis, with the pair battling hard on track through the early stages before the Evora started to establish an advantage. Glew kept the lead until handing the car over to team-mate Holmes, and he maintained the advantage to secure what would ultimately be a comfortable victory when the Ginetta was handed a drive-through penalty and slipped to third in class.
“We had a great battle with the #50 Ginetta at the start,” Glew said. “I just couldn’t shake it off no matter what I did. All of a sudden the race came to us; we seemed to manage our tyres better, pulled a bit of a gap, which built to a 30-second lead, and the rest is history.”
Despite a tough opening stint, the ABG KTM fought back to take the chequered flag in second place, which was more than enough to secure class championship honours for Clutton and Belshaw, who had gone into the weekend needing only to finish inside the top six.
“We thought after the first four rounds the championship was going to be a breeze, but then we were penalised and that slowed us down considerably,” Clutton said. “The second half of the season was a bit more difficult but we stuck at it and were a bit fortunate when a couple of cars had some problems. But you have to be lucky.”
The GT3B class victory today went to series debutants Backdraft Motorsport, with James Pickford and Simon Atkinson and their Lamborghini Gallardo triumphing after the retirement of the Barwell Aston Martin and problems for the MTech Ferrari 430 of John Dhillon and Aaron Scott.
The GTC class battle between the two Chevron Racing GR8s went the way of Jordan Witt and Anthony Reid, who finished the race comfortably clear of the sister car of David Witt and Ray Grimes.
The British GT Championship is sponsored by UK tyre manufacturer Avon Tyres and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.
Avon Tyres British GT Championship
Round 10, Silverstone GP 8/10/2011
54 laps / 197.67 miles
Provisional results GT3 & overall
1 Beechdean Aston Martin Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam 2h 01m 26.220s / 97.68mph
2 Trackspeed Porsche David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook +22.738s
3 CRS Racing Ferrari Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie +22.939s
4 Trackspeed Porsche Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman +37.231s
5 Preci-Spark Mercedes David Jones/Godfrey Jones +43.170s
6 United Autosports Audi Joe Osborne/Zak Brown (USA) +56.941s
7 Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman +1m 14.286s
8 MTECH Ferrari Julien Draper/Matthew Draper +1m 20.669s
9 MTECH Ferrari Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL) +1m 23.848s
10 CRS Racing Ferrari Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer 53 laps etc
1 Backdraft Lamborghini Simon Atkinson/James Pickford 45 laps
1 Lotus Sport UK Lotus Chris Holmes/Phil Glew 52 laps
2 ABG Motorsport KTM Peter Belshaw/Marcus Clutton 51 laps
3 Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta Dan Denis/David McDonald 51 laps
4 Century Motorsport Ginetta Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury 50 laps
5 Magic Ginetta Stewart Linn/Chris Midmark (SWE) 50 laps
6 Lotus Sport UK Lotus Leyton Clarke/Freddy Nordstrom 49 laps
7 Secure/Barwell Aston Martin Peter Erceg/Tiff Needell 49 laps
1 Chevron Racing Chevron Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid 52 laps
2 Chevron Racing Chevron David Witt/Ray Grimes 50 laps
Fastest lap Bateman 2m 06.162s / 104.45mph Est Rec
Provisional championship standings
GT3 & overall
=1 Geddie/Geddie 144 points; 3 Ashburn 130; =4 Lyons/Bateman & Cameron/Griffin 116.5; =8 Howard/Adam 113.5; =10 Guasch/Bell 110.5 etc
=1 John Dhillon & Aaron Scott 137.5 etc
=1 Belshaw/Clutton 205.5; =3 Denis/McDonald & Nordstrom/Clarke 164 etc
=1 Reid/J Witt 100 etc
TV schedule Channel 4: 0700 22 October; Motors TV UK 1252 22 October + repeats