Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine took the #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin to its second win of the season with a strong victory to end a glorious day of racing in the Silverstone 500 third round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Caine took the chequered flag by almost a minute from Jonny Adam in the #1 Aston Beechdean AMR, as shared with reigning champion Andrew Howard.
Steven Kane took third position on track in the #17 M-Sport Bentley Continental as shared with Rembert Berg but was to lose the position post-race. The final podium spot had been taken late in the race through contact with the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Alexander Sims and Marco Attard with Sims at the wheel for the final stint. The incident was adjudged as being avoidable by Kane resulting in a 30 second penalty for the M-Sport car, dropping it to fourth in the final order and returning the Ecurie Ecosse to third position in the standings.
In GT4 it was the #46 Twisted Team Parker Ginetta G55 of Adrian Barwick and Bradley Ellis which ended a great class battle victorious. The #41 Optimum Ginetta of returning former GT4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe and Matt Draper took second with the GT4 podium rounded off by the #49 TF Sport Aston of Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell.
GT4 provided a great race-long battle with the duo of Tom Oliphant and Rick Parfitt it the #42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 intermittently topping the class, but Parfitt’s collision with second-placed Andrew Jarman in the #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge left teammate Oliphant with it all to do.
Oliphant was able to chase down the recovering TF Sport Aston Martin, but Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick had mounted an unassailable lead. Behind them, both the TF Sport Aston Martin and Century Motorsport Ginetta closed the gap on the second placed Ryan Ratcliffe and Matt Draper. With Oliphant’s fire in the rear of the car, his challenge fell to the wayside as Draper defended second position to the chequered flag.
Over the three hours at Silverstone there were a number of notable incidents amidst the racing. Early on in the proceedings it was the #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra in the hands of Mark Patterson battling Phil Dryburgh in the #6 PGF – Kinfaun AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, before Dryburgh’s late braking heading into brought a premature end to the battle with the Audi retired and the Aston driver punished with points deducted.
Another battle that ended in a retirement saw the #77 ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4 collide and take the wheel off the #28 HorsePower Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3. In the midfield battle, the pick of the scraps was Pasin Lathouras in the #29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia had to deal with Chris Hoy’s defending in the #80 Nissan Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3.
As Lathouras passed the former Olympian, a new battle brewed at the top as Rembert Berg and Steven Kane both demonstrated the pace of the #17 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 as it moved from outside the podium to the verge of third battling not only Alexander Sims in the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 and Phil Keen in the #33 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R, but also Lee Mowle in the #8 Triple Eight BMW Z4 GT3 proving to be stern opposition.
The #8 Triple Eight of Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne proved how quick the BMW is when sitting in second place. Joe Osborne made great strides on the huge lead Michael Caine possessed, breaking the gap from 47 seconds down to a bare minimum. Their pace was soon to be slowed when the Triple Eight car was hit with a drive through penalty for not respecting the yellow flags. Osborne did end the day with the fastest lap of the day, a 2mins 03.885secs.
Early on there was incident when the #55 Academy Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 collided with the #77 ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4, which was soon followed by #1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s Andrew Howard having to go onto the grass to avoid a collision too.
After the halfway mark, the then top two of #42 Century Motorsport’s G55 Ginetta GT4 and the #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge hit wheels with the two entering a spin. Both continued, but soon the #42 endured more issues with Tom Oliphant behind the wheel. With two laps remaining, a seal caught fire that spread across the Ginetta’s rear, retiring it from the race.
The Mobil 1 Service Centre Master of the Weekend award was presented to Ryan Ratcliffe for his superb return to action in the #41 Ginetta whilst Andrew Howard took the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ Blancpain Gentleman Trophy.
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship now heads to Norfolk for the next round on June 21/22 with the Snetterton 300.
Michael Caine – #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3:
“It’s not often you get in a car with 40 minutes to go in the race and be told you have a 48 second lead! The team did fantastic with the pits and safety car. It played into our hands and Ahmad was lapping superbly and we made sure we brought the car home. We struggled a little in qualifying but the race pace of the car was good.”
Andrew Howard – #1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3:
“We think we could have been on pace with the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin but we probably lost 40 seconds in the mix of it with the traffic and the safety car. They were 50 seconds up the road. It would have been close, but all credit to them for winning. Jonny Adam did really well today. He had a lot of pressure, he’s used to it, but for any driver having Steven Kane and Alexander Sims steaming behind you is real pressure.”
Alexander Sims – #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3:
“We had an okay race and our pace was good, but we had an issue with Marco’s radio on the first pit as we were trying to get him in earlier. We pitted a lap later and lost a lot of time. I realised on the straights that the Bentley was massively quick. I closed the door as much as I could. I felt that I braked late enough for it to be my corner and I didn’t think it was Kane’s corner. I looked in my mirror and thought he had backed out. It was pretty opportunistic of him to overtake there when he wasn’t alongside me.”
Steven Kane – #17 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3:
“It’s been almost a perfect week for not only me but Bentley too after Blancpain and British GT here. We got a good start, but the safety car and going off meant we were lucky to get over it. If we hadn’t had those incidents we could have finished higher, but it is an ‘if.’ Sims cut across me in the braking zone. He was going from one side to the other to block me for several laps. He cut across and gave me nowhere to go. It was just one of those races. We need to work on qualifying and hopefully we should perform at Snetterton.”
Ryan Ratcliffe – #41 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4:
“It was a perfect comeback to British GT. The weekend didn’t start well, it wasn’t our plan to qualifying seventh. For myself and Matt Draper it was pretty much a sprint race, we were just flat out and got lucky with the first safety car. Optimum did a great job with pits and strategy, Matt was consistent and I was quite happy with my own times.”
Andrew Jarman – #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge:
“We’re really happy to get third. We had some contact that put us into a spin and earlier on the engine cut out which cost us 35 seconds. We were P3 at the time then, so we were going up and down the grind constantly. Devon drove brilliantly to keep it in third too. We’ve been getting consistent results and to get it this week with all our troubles and come away with third is great. If we can do that every week we should be right up the top.
Tom Oliphant – #42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4:
“Basically the left seal caught fire and spread to the whole of the car rear. I’ve no idea what caused it. All I know is I had the car on maximum attack and I’m fully convinced I’d have had a podium finish. The Aston was defending pretty heavily, but all three cars were catching second place. I had no idea it was on fire, I came into the last couple of corners pushing the Aston, looking for an overtake and then I got a call of “box, box, box” and I asked why, then I came down the main straight to be told race control said I was on fire. I backed off and then slowly returned to the pits. It was a wise choice as the fire spread and the tyre was affected. It’s gutting when you’re two laps from the end of a great race.”