RAM Racing’s John Ferguson the win in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Snetterton in the final race of the second sprint round of the season. Ferguson, sharing with AMG factory pro driver Raffaele Marciello, held off a determined assault from championship leader James Cottingham and the reigning champion Ian Loggie to claim the victory for the Silverstone-based team.
Frenetic the race was most certainly, with the top four cars crossing the line in a single blur, so close to the end of the 1 hour, the marshals didn’t have time to show the flag.
In the GT4 championship, leaders Charles Clark and Jack Brown had a much less fraught run to victory, extending their lead of the category heading into the fly-away race in Portugal. Whilst much less adrenaline-fuelled, The Optimum Motorsport crew didn’t have it all easy, surviving a spin to claim the top spot and move 48 points clear at the top of the table.
GT3: What the Heck Just Happened?
The GT3 race started off almost tame. Ross Gunn had the pole position and held off a challenge early on from Jules Gounon. The Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR held off a determined effort from the #1 2 Seas Motorsport machine which lasted for much of the first five minutes.
It’s worth noting that the #88 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 EVO’s pole position was taken away when Alex West received an additional Behaviour Warning Point for a collision in round 5. Having already served a 5-place penalty at Donington Park for accruing 3 BWPs, the fourth earned the car a 10-place penalty. As a result, the team opted to withdraw the car rather than start from deep in the field.
Throughout the first half of the race, it was fairly stable as evenly matched professional drivers struggled to find an advantage. One of the main things to rise to note before the pit stops, which came late with teams seeking to maximise the time with their professional drivers, was a puncture 6 minutes in for the Drivetac Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO of James Wallis. Unfortunately for the team, the car was up on the air jacks with the engine running, a pit lane penalty saw them through the pit lane again which ruined any hope they had of a strong result.
Otherwise, it was qualifying order through to the pit window, from where it went mad.
The leading trio of Gunn, Gounon and Marciello handed over to the Ams who came out in the same order, Howard ahead of Loggie with Ferguson holding third. Howard set to building a gap and pulled clear of the battling Benzs behind. The Beechdean AMR crew hadn’t got it perfect though and a penalty for a pit stop one second short of the minimum time dropped the Aston Martin to sixth place.
A later penalty for pitlane speeding would drop the Beechdean boss well out of contention.
Loggie thus inherited the lead of the race, but shortly after Ferguson pulled off a shock move to take the lead at Murrays corner. He couldn’t build a gap to the D2 Privat machine and the battle was amazing for the remaining 20 minutes.
Defending cost the leading duo time and allowed James Cottingham to bring his Mercedes-AMG into the fight. When Ian Loggie attacked into Riches, the #1 and the #15 touched which slowed them enough for James Cottingham to go around the outside. He didn’t claim the lead but did demote the erstwhile leader to third place with John Ferguson in the lead.
The team opted not to tell the driver of the #15 that he was now in the lead of the race, though you couldn’t tell from the way he was defending. Fifteen minutes under sustained fire should have been more than Ferguson could bare, but he absorbed everything Cottingham could throw at him, the #4 2 Seas Motorsport machine free to attack again and again as Loggie came under attack himself from the Orange Racing by JMH McLaren 720S GT3 EVO of Simon Orange.
Orange and Loggie traded places a couple of times on the penultimate lap and kept the fight going through the final tour. In fact, given that the leading cars crossed the line with just under a lap time remaining on the clock, the battle raged for longer than it should have. Loggie and Orange touched at Agostini and span out.
However, while it was close it wasn’t close enough. Ferguson reached the line 0.3 seconds after the 60-minute timer had elapsed. It was too close for the flag to get out so the top four didn’t see the chequered flag at all and only knew it was over when the teams radioed to tell them. James Cottingham reached the finish line just 0.042 seconds behind the leader, which equates to about the length of a Mercedes-AMG headlight.
Loggie crossed the line ahead of Orange with Darren Leung in fifth place. Sixth went to Mike Price and Callum MacLeod with Matt Topham bringing the Enduro Motorsport McLaren home in seventh on his debut weekend in the category. Kevin Tse and Chris Froggat took eighth place and the top spot in Silver-Am with Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell in ninth after winning during Round 5.
GT4: Spin When Your Winning for Brown and Clark
The second victory for Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren Artura GT4 came the way of Jack Brown and Charles Clark despite a scare in the first half of the race. Clark had the car for the start and was battling with former Ginetta factory driver, now Motorsport Manager for the Yorkshire manufacturer, Mike Simpson in the Toro Verde Ginetta G56 GT4.
The start from the front kept him clear of the fuss behind as the R Racing Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR GT4 braked early for Riches on lap 1 and was hit by the DTO Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 of Josh Rowledge. That would have been all fine except for the rapid arrival of Freddie Tomlinson on the scene in the race 1 winning Ginetta G56 GT4 of Raceway Motorsport.
Tomlinson couldn’t stop quick enough and heavily impacted the rear of the McLaren, dislodging the diffuser of the black and white #36. The McLaren continued on but the damage to the Ginetta was extensive, the car was out on the spot and we’ve heard the car is a write-off.
While all this was going on, Clark and Simpson were breaking away and building a gap to the battling pack behind. Close but clean racing was the rule for the first fifteen minutes but it became physical at the Wilson hairpin halfway through the stint. The Ginetta hit the McLaren in the rear, spinning the #90 Artura and allowing the Ginetta to take the lead.
The stewards took note though and soon after Simpson was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty which handed Clark the uncontested lead of the class.
Then came the pit stops and as a Silver-Cup entry, the McLaren Artura had to serve 14 additional seconds in the pits. It gave Carl Cavers the lead of the motor race. Brown then had to do his share of the work, catching and passing the BMW M4 GT4 from Century Motorsport to claim the Optimum Motorsport machine’s second race of the year.
Josh Rowledge and Aston Millar shook off the wounds of their first lap contact to chase down and pass the Cavers/Plato-driven BMW before the end of the race, as did the R Racing Aston Martin of Seb Hopkins who rounded out the GT4 podium.
Cavers and Plato can still celebrate the Pro-Am win, along with taking second in the overall championship race thanks to their weekend in Norfolk, with Ian Duggan and Joe Wheeler’s Toro Verde GT Ginetta in fifth, in the car’s first weekend in the Pro-Am category. Sixth went to Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley for RACELAB, taking third in Pro-Am.
Seventh overall went to the ONE Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, still racing in plain black except for the gold wheels and a gold back bumper following their testing shunt at Donington Park. Enduro Motorsport’s Harry George bought the #17 Artura home in ninth place behind birthday boy Chris Salkeld for Century in the #14 BMW. Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore rounded out the top ten.