It might have been a weekend of firsts but the Avon Tyres British GT Championship proved a very expensive affair for some of the drivers when the series visited Snetterton in Norfolk.
The bright orange-and-white liveried DemonTweeks Trackspeed Porsche 997 Cup propelled Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw to their first win of the season in Race 1 after a hard-fought nose-to-tail chase by the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Marco Attard and Jonathan Cooker. Triple 8 Racing’s #88 Z4 took third to keep Aston Martins from the podium for the first time since Rockingham.
Triple 8 Racing’s other BMW, #888, wasn’t so lucky when Derek Johnson’s contact with the AF Corse Ferrari of Pasin Lathouras was later judged to be “incompatible with general safety”. Not only was Johnson awarded license points but both drivers in the team were deducted 12 championship points. Mark Poole and Richard Abra were also penalised in the MP Motorsport Aston and although reinstated in the results – taking 4th in GT3 – the car will drop 6 grid places at the next round.
In the GT4 class, Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw landed their first win of 2014 in the Lotus Evora GT4, with the Beechdean #407 Aston second and Rick Parfitt & Tom Oliphant taking their first podium in the Century Ginetta G55.
Race 2 was marred by a serious collision between the #888 BMW and two Astons who finished facing nose-to-nose at turn 1 and the race was suspended for nearly half an hour while circuit officials repaired the Armco. Fortunately none of the drivers were injured but again the stewards stepped in and this time judged drivers John Gaw (PGF Aston #6) and Steve Tandy (whose #2 Bentley had collided with the #13 AF Corse Ferrari) to have driven in an unsafe manner. In this instance they came down heaviest on the #6 car with a £1000 fine, John Gaw collecting 4 points on his race license and both drivers in the team loosing championship points. Steve Tandy was reprimanded, endorsed and alongside team mate James Appleby forfeits 6 championship points.
After green flag laps behind the safety car, the race eventually restarted with the #1 Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam taking the GT3 win over Gary Eastwood and Adam Carroll in their FF Course Ferrari 458. Ex-Touring Car driver Tom Onslow-Cole shared his first British GT podium with Paul White in the Strata 21 Aston.
The GT4 race was also marred by incident when the #40 IDA CWS Racing Ginetta G55 collided heavily with the Armco at Coram sending tyres – and yellow flags – flying. Again, thankfully the driver was uninjured and the stranded car was left in-situ for the remainder of the race.
Jade Edwards made her debut in Tania Mann’s vacated seat alongside Matt Draper in the Optimum Motorsport GT Ginetta but sadly mechanical issues troubled both drivers, and the P5 the team took from Race 1 was replaced by a DNF for Race 2. The Twisted Team Parker Ginetta G55 of Adrian Barwick and Bradley Ellis took the GT4 win with Rick Parfitt & Tom Oliphant and Morten Dons & Alex Schjerpen taking the 2nd and 3rd spots for Century Motorsport, making it a Ginetta shutout.
The Championship heads into continental Europe for the next rounds, for two races at Spa-Francorchamps on 11th/12th July.
Text and photos: Chris Valentine