Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam bounced back from an unfortunate retirement in race one to claim victory in the second hour-long Avon Tyres British GT Championship encounter at Oulton Park this afternoon, while Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw claimed a comfortable GT4 class win.
The Team LNT Ginetta GT3 of Steve Tandy and Mike Simpson finished second overall from Marco Attard and Alexander Sims in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3. Meanwhile, GT4 race one winners Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson (Professional Motorsport World Expo / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4), and Paul McNeilly and Jamie Stanley (Fox Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4) finished second and third following the exclusion of Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin.
After managing a brief Safety Car period early on, Beechdean AMR’s Adam initially converted his pole position into a second-or-so lead over Adam Carroll, before the FF Corse Ferrari closed back in and pounced mid-way through the stint.
But with a 15-second success penalty coming the Northern Irishman and co-driver Gary Eastwood’s way at the pit-stop, Adam admitted he was happy to let the Ferrari go while fending off Phil Keen’s advancing Team Russia by Barwell Racing with Demon Tweeks BMW.
Keen and co-driver Jon Minshaw’s afternoon once again ended before the pit-stops though after the intervention of Godfrey Jones’ Preci-Spark Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, leaving Mike Simpson and the Ginetta to take up the fight.
The top three soon pitted together and, as expected, the FF Corse Ferrari – now piloted by Eastwood – tumbled down the order, allowing Howard to re-take the lead from Triple Eight Racing’s Lee Mowle, Liam Griffin’s Oman Racing Team Aston Martin and Simpson’s co-driver, Tandy.
Such was Beechdean’s rapid pit work that even changing all four tyres – suggested by Adam after struggling at the end of his stint – didn’t take long enough to meet the minimum stationary time. And when Triple Eight plus all three Oman Racing Team entries were adjudged to have committed a similar offence, a flurry of late stop-go penalties shuffled the pack.
Howard’s time in the pits wasn’t sufficient to drop him behind Tandy though, who was the first of the front-runners not to be penalised. Indeed, while Howard worked to establish a near-13secs lead by the finish, the Team LNT driver was busy defending from Marco Attard’s Ecurie Ecosse BMW that had started fourth but dropped to seventh off the line in the hands of co-driver Alexander Sims.
Eastwood had looked good to follow up his and Carroll’s opening race podium with a fourth position until a spin just a couple of corners from home dropped the Ferrari to sixth. That elevated the recovering Griffin/Butcher Aston and Mowle/Osborne BMW to fourth and fifth respectively, while the Farmer/Barnes 22GT Racing Aston Martin, MacKinnon/Plato RAM Racing Mercedes, Watson/Wylie Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S and Dryburgh/Jackson Oman Racing Team Aston completed the points paying positions.
GT4 was dominated by the ISSY Racing Lotus Evora, which started third in the hands of Kershaw but was up to first by the time Yusuf took over.
A straightforward final stint saw him establish a 16secs advantage over Jamie Chadwick’s Beechdean Aston Martin to give the 16-year-old and co-driver Ross Gunn their second runners-up spot of the day. It wasn’t to last though after race stewards excluded the car from the final classification for Chadwick’s part in an incident with the #61 Academy Motorsport Aston that subsequently retired.
Race one winners Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson played the long game to come through from sixth on the grid and ultimately finish second aboard their Professional Motorsport World Expo / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4. Fox Motorsport’s Paul McNeilly and Jamie Stanley therefore inherited third after overhauling early pace-setters Tolman Motorsport.
Elsewhere, Howard and Adam’s overall victory meant they also took the GT3 PRO/AM spoils, with Andrew Watson and Ross Wylie scooping the Silver Cup win for Von Ryan Racing. In GT4 those honours went the way of Yusuf/Kershaw and Langley/Hart, respectively.
Eastwood picked up the Blancpain Driver of the Weekend award for his second and near-fourth places. Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend prizes went to FF Corse team-mate Adam Carroll (GT3, 1m35.549s) and Tolman Motorsport’s Luke Davenport (GT4, 1m43.674s).
Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR (GT3 P1): “I think today sums up motor racing in a way! You have good and bad luck. There was some fantastic teamwork from the guys today; goodness only knows how they got the car back on track! Jonny had a nightmare at the pit-stop, we changed all four tyres and still got a penalty for being too fast, so an impressive performance all round, I think!”
Jonny Adam, Beechdean AMR (GT3 P1): “It was good to win after the disaster from race one! The car wasn’t 100% but a really impressive effort from the team meant it was ready in an hour-and-a-half. I struggled with the rear of the car a bit and had a little moment, but it was good enough and a great result.”
Steve Tandy, Team LNT (GT3 P2): “It’s fantastic and we’re really pleased. It was a difficult start to the weekend when we didn’t get any running in FP2, which compromised our qualifying but race one went well. And we’re very pleased with this result. My stint was tough, I had to hold Marco and a few other guys off but it’s a fantastic car! I’m really pleased for Lawrence Tomlinson and Ginetta because we’ve proven it’s a great product and I hope we can go on and get some more positive results.”
Marco Attard, Ecurie Ecosse (GT3 P3): “That was a very good way to end the weekend. It was a tough race for us; I think Alexander struggled a bit at the start and I just couldn’t get past the Ginetta with this circuit being so narrow. But the team did a great job to get the car back together after the first race, so it’s all good!”
Oz Yusuf, ISSY Racing (GT4 P1): “Everything went really well! We might have won the first race were it not for the Safety Car so we were pleased to get it back in this one. We stuck to the plan, stuck to a steady pace and I didn’t need to push it too hard. It would have been nice to get the double-win but there’s always next time!”
Gavan Kershaw, ISSY Racing (GT4 P1): “This plan has been in place since November and through Ozzy’s hard work and effort he’s become a real racing driver – this could well be our year to reap the rewards. No doubt we’re going to have bad luck at some point in the season, but when it’s good we’re going to celebrate. And we get an Easter egg to boot!”
Points-wise, Griffin and Butcher lead the way in both the GT3 Drivers’ and PRO/AM standings, while their Oman Racing Team heads the Teams’ classification. At this early stage Griffin is also first in the Blancpain Gentleman Trophy.
Johnson and Robinson are sat atop the GT4 Drivers’ and PRO/AM table, with their Optimum Motorsport squad also out front in the Teams’.
The GT3 Silver Cup is headed by Ahmad Al Harthy/Daniel Lloyd and, in GT4, by Langley/Hart.
The 2015 British GT campaign continues at Rockingham on May 2/3.