Trackspeed celebrated their second GT3 win in succession as the #63 combination of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen took a late lead and victory in a dramatic season finale to the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park today.
Whilst the Trackspeed car won the race, it was Marco Attard who won the GT3 Drivers’ Championship and the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy despite the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 he shares with Alexander Sims completing a mere ten laps after being sidelined by transmission issues.
Minshaw and Keen were joined on the podium by the #18 FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia pairing of Gary Eastwood and Ollie Hancock with United Autosports taking their first podium of the year with a spirited race from Mark Patterson and Matt Bell in their Audi R8 LMS Ultra.
The race – and the Drivers’ Championship – looked for much of the race to be going the way of the #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage combination of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine before Caine lost the lead under gentle precipitation just over twenty minutes before the race end.
The #4’s eventual fourth placed finish did confirm Oman Racing Team as the GT3 Teams’ Champions with the sister #5 car taking fifth, but Al Harthy and Caine’s points tally was insufficient to topple Attard’s Drivers’ Championship lead with his 148.5 points heading to Donington was sufficient to withstand the 138 apiece tally of Al Harthy and Caine. Third in the standings went to Alexander Sims on 129.5.
Attard’s rival in the Blancpain standings, out-going GT3 Drivers’ Champion Andrew Howard, was unable to capitalise on Attard’s woes as he only managed a mere four laps more than his rival for the engraved Blancpain 8885 S watch, to be presented at the season award ceremony in London on November 28th. Howard cited driver error for his gravel excursion which meant the #1 Aston was parked on lap 15. Attard took the Trophy by 163.5 points from Howard’s 133.5.
GT4 was a tense affair too, with the #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings converting their strong points lead heading into the event into the GT4 Drivers Championship despite finishing fifth in the race. Their 207.5 points apiece withstood the 190 each for Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell in the TF Sport Aston.
The class was won by the #42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 of Rick Parfitt Jnr and Tom Oliphant, after they took advantage of a late off track excursion from the Jarman / Modell car, resulting in the #49 car taking second on track as well as in the Drivers’ Championship. Third on track and in the Drivers’ Championship went to the #46 Twisted Team Parker G55 Ginetta GT4 of Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick.
The bumper Donington points haul from Parfitt Jr and Oliphant combined with the seventh finish of sometime class leaders Aleksander Schjerpen and Morten Dons in the sister Ginetta meant that Century Motorsport won the GT4 Teams’ Championship with 225.5 points from Beechdean AMR’s 207.5 with TF Sport taking 190 at the final reckoning.
For his drive to the class win, Rick Parfitt Jr took the Mobil 1 Master of the Weekend whilst the prestigious Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend Award went the way of Mark Patterson who enters his full-season racing retirement with a fine third place.
Jon Minshaw, #63 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R
I got a great start and went round the outside of two or three cars at Redgate and down the Craners. It was a question of managing, holding onto the Aston ahead and making sure anybody behind me stayed behind. We’ve had a great end to the season, and I’m really looking forward to next year!
Phil Keen, #63 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R
I’m chuffed to bits, but it is a shame that we couldn’t have won Brands and come here with a shot at the title. With a couple of the contenders not finishing, it would’ve been close. It’s been a good year, despite a couple of issues during the season. I had a comfortable gap and was just managing it, and we had a little issue with the car and only just got across the line! We were a bit lucky I guess!
Gary Eastwood, #18 FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
I’m over the moon, Ollie did a fantastic stint considering his lack of time in the Ferrari before this race and he showed his talent in a sterling drive where he held off competition in a tough grid. I enjoyed my stint, there was good fair, aggressive, driving. I nicked a few spots that put us in a good position to compete for the win, which we were close to getting. However, if you’d offered us second at the beginning of the weekend, we’d have definitely taken it.
Matt Bell, #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra
This has been the first podium of the year and it was definitely long overdue. We have had a tough year. We have had the pace before but we were not able to capitalise since we had a few DNFs that weren’t our fault. The main thing was that Mark handed the car over in one piece, which he did. Then I got my head down and went for it. I got through a few people. I then saw that Caine was still in the lead holding up the Porsche and the Ferrari. That gave me a shot and I knew the win was out the cards when they got passed. I managed to finally overpass Caine and secure the podium. It was extremely satisfying to end the season on a high mainly for Mark. He is hanging up his boots at the end of this year so I was desperate to try to win it for him.
Mark Patterson, #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra
This is fantastic for us, Matt drove an amazing stint. I called up Ferrari and they told me Kimi Räikkönen’s seat is available! To drive that well against such a top quality grid is amazing. We’ve looked like podium challengers all year, and we’ve had a lot of bad luck preventing us getting one, so to qualify okay here and drive so well to get a podium is a great result. To get the Blancpain ‘Driver of the Weekend’ Trophy is an excellent bonus, I’ve won two in the last two years, it’s great for them to share it with me, they’ve bribed me well to return next year with that!
Nick Tandy, Trackspeed #31 Porsche 997 GT3 R
It was fun. We had a lot of good fights and battles today. Every time I got past a car, I got on the radio to find out what I had to do to catch the next one, and that would be the next target. I just kept focused, and kept catching people and passing cars. It was good fun and a good race.
Marco Attard, #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3
It’s great to be the 2014 GT3 Drivers’ Champion after a rollercoaster weekend. At one point, I didn’t think it was going to happen for us, and I thought I’d be going home with nothing. I’ve won, but it would have been better to have won it on the track. It was hard to watch the Oman Racing Team from the pits. They’re a great set-up under David Bartrum and the two drivers, Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine are great, fair drivers. I don’t feel I’ve got one over them, as it was a close fought battle. I have to thank the team and Alexander, who has been excellent throughout the season. This win would not have happened without him.
Alexander Sims, #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3
In terms of the championship, it was a perfect result as we got Marco to the championship title. In the race, it was a lot nervier than expected, but we thankfully got through it with the points buffer we built up before the weekend. It’s a mega job from everyone at the team, Marco has been the class of the field in the Amateurs and as quick as anyone else but with great consistency too. Watching the car come into the pits to end the race was disappointing, it’s one of those things but to happen at the end of the season meant we were powerless to the results. Thankfully Phil Keen did a great job in his stint which helped us out. It’s a strange feeling to hope someone else doesn’t do as well in order to win, but that’s sport and that’s what happens sometimes.
Tom Oliphant, #42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4
It’s about time we won! Rick and I have driven our hearts out all year, made very few mistakes and we’ve been very unlucky. It’s nice to finally end the season on a high, and we can look to the future now.
Rick Parfitt, #42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4
I feel we really deserved this. We have had such bad luck all year, which has lost us a few results. Finishing the year with a win is amazing. It wasn’t an easy one either. We played it right at the beginning. We should have had a 16 second lead after the pit stop but our pit speed limiter stuck on so we lost 25 seconds. That pitched us into a frenetic 5-car battle for the lead. I feel sorry for our team-mates Morten and Alexander as they jumped everybody and pulled an absolute blinder. Sadly for them their steering broke which is gutting. As well as the victory, overtaking the two Astons were the positive highlights. I certainly didn’t want to get involved in the championship protagonist show. However the opportunity to put it in their minds that I could overtake them presented itself so I went for it.
Bradley Ellis, #46 Twisted Team Parker G55 Ginetta GT4
Its job done for us as we got the podium we knew we needed. We still keep third in the Drivers’ Championship, so we did what we needed and I tried my best to get the fastest lap. The top two were a way ahead of us, but I was happy to half the gap towards the end. It was a good race and Adrian drove an epic stint, keeping up with the pack. It’s his first year, learning, and we’ll hopefully build on this for the future.
Andrew Jarman, #49 TF Sport GT4 Challenge
It was the most enjoyable race of the year, despite the championship pressure. It was a good stint for me as I was able to get the lead and it looked a great race from our viewpoint! We had a bit of contact with the #42 Ginetta, but it was nothing major. We were able to have a good pit stop and Modell drove a great stint. We never gave up on the title, right up until the last lap, as you never know what’s going to happen. We’re disappointed not to win the title, but as a team we can be proud that we were the only other team able to battle for the title right up until the end, so we’ll look to continue our form in 2015.
Devon Modell, #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge
I was leading until five minutes from the end when I made a mistake that cost us the race. It could have been worse if we had lost the championship because of it! Overall, it was hard work on the car today as the car wore a little late on meaning I had to race until the end just nursing the car. Congratulations to Tom and Rick, he kept us honest for the whole hour I was out there. I am looking forward to Nürburgring next weekend but in terms of next year nothing has been confirmed so far.
Jake Giddings, #407 Beechdean AMR GT4 Challenge
We are happy with the race. We had the pace to go away in the distance at the beginning but it wasn’t about that today, it was about the title and playing the long game. Then we had a little glitch towards the end I am sure Ross picked up on that too so my heart was in my mouth.
Ross Wylie, #407 Beechdean AMR GT4 Challenge
The team has done a fantastic job all year. I couldn’t be in a better team. Consistency defines them. It did have a little glitch going down Craner Curves but of course we did not really know what had happened. We picked up that the fuel was lowering and decided to pit a second time as a safety measure. Devon Modell and I got a bit too close to comfort and it became slightly risky especially with the GT3 cars racing for position so it proved that it was a matter of taking the car back home in good conditions. Jake went out and did a great job.