Bri­tish GT : Oul­ton Park re­port

Bar­well and Team Parker both break their ducks for the sea­son. By Tom Er­ring­ton

Motor Sport News - - Headline News -

Fine mar­gins de­fined the two races at Oul­ton Park, hand­ing Lam­borgh­ini a first win since Spa 2010, be­fore Rick Parfitt and Seb Mor­ris took their first vic­tory in the GT3 di­vi­sion for Bent­ley.

Adam Carroll and Liam Grif­fin’s pit strat­egy proved to be the mas­ter­stroke that be­came the cat­a­lyst for their dom­i­nant race one win.

Their de­ci­sion went against the ma­jor­ity of the grid’s pit strat­egy, with a crowded pit lane on the win­dow’s open­ing claim­ing the vic­tory hopes of the pole­sit­ting Phil Keen and Jon Min­shaw Hu­ra­can, as well as the ri­valling Bent­ley.

Lessons were learned for the sec­ond race, and Mor­ris’s in­cred­i­ble first stint be­fore he pit­ted gave Parfitt the per­fect plat­form to take their first win in Bri­tish GT.

Pit stops had lit­tle im­pact in GT4, where Mike Robin­son and Gra­ham Johnson’s su­perb pace in their Ginetta was enough to se­cure two wins.

Their first was a straight­for­ward run to the flag, while the sec­ond re­lied on the duo keep­ing their noses clean as ri­vals fal­tered.

Race one

Carroll’s com­mand­ing first vic­tory for Bar­well Mo­tor­sport’s Hu­ra­can was the re­sult of a dif­fer­ent pit strat­egy to the ma­jor­ity.

As has been the case in the first two rounds, the open­ing of the pit win­dow leads to most cars pit­ting to hand over to their team-mates.

Like Jonny Adam and Derek John­ston at Brands Hatch, Liam Grif­fin stayed out for an ex­tra tour be­fore hand­ing over to Carroll.

That de­ci­sion was quickly vin­di­cated. Grif­fin had been run­ning be­hind the pole­sit­ting sis­ter Hu­ra­can of Jon Min­shaw and Phil Keen and the Bent­ley, but would soon jump them.

Those two cars ahead pit­ted at the win­dow’s open­ing, and be­came em­broiled in pit­lane er­rors.

Min­shaw’s Bar­well-run car would have to serve a seven-sec­ond suc­cess penalty car­ried over from Rockingham, but the Bent­ley had no such hin­drance. Yet that would count for noth­ing, as Mor­ris was blocked in his pit box by the Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren 650S of Rob Bell and Alas­dair Mccaig.

Mor­ris lost cru­cial time – he es­ti­mated be­tween 15 and 20 sec­onds – but the Bent­ley was im­peded fur­ther when Keen was re­leased in­cor­rectly along­side.

Keen was then given a 10s stop-go penalty for his part in the pits, but the Mclaren was the killer blow to Parfitt and Mor­ris’s hopes.

“We lost 20 sec­onds there,” said Parfitt. “Ev­ery­thing was work­ing per­fectly. I knew once I didn’t pass Min­shaw that I had to just fol­low, and their suc­cess penalty would work for us but the Mclaren blocked us and ended that.”

While Keen could only re­turn to fin­ish sev­enth, Mor­ris took the wheel of the Bent­ley and ex­pertly carved his way up the order and into third.

Carroll was out of reach for Mor­ris, but the AMD Tun­ing BMW of Joe Osborne had lucked in dur­ing the stops and made enough ground to emerge sec­ond once the order worked out. Osborne ran just over six sec­onds ahead of Mor­ris with 10 laps to go.

Osborne, boosted by the early pit­ting of their last gen­er­a­tion Z4 by Lee Mowle, was forced to go de­fen­sive late on. The Bent­ley had the su­pe­rior pace, but help from an un­likely source se­cured sec­ond for Osborne.

The bon­net of Matthew Ge­orge’s GT4 As­ton came loose and landed at Knicker­brook on the fi­nal lap, bring­ing out the yel­low flags and nul­li­fy­ing a po­ten­tial pass­ing spot.

“It was a great bat­tle with Joe,” said Mor­ris. “I fi­nally had him on the fi­nal lap, I was go­ing to pass on Knicker­book, but a yel­low flag meant I had to pull out of the move and get third.”

In GT4, Gra­ham Johnson and Mike Robin­son took their sec­ond win of the sea­son.

Rac­ing at the last cir­cuit con­sid­ered to be “Ginetta-friendly,” the pair were un­trou­bled as they can­tered to vic­tory.

Be­hind the win­ners, the As­ton Martin of Jack Mitchell was able to jump the Team Hard Ginetta of Jor­dan Stilp for sec­ond dur­ing the pit win­dow.

Race two

Team Parker Rac­ing learnt its lessons from the opener. From pole, Mor­ris put in a sen­sa­tional open­ing stint that would se­cure the Bent­ley a maiden win.

With pro driv­ers start­ing the race, gaps be­tween cars weren’t sur­pris­ing, but Mor­ris was al­most an as­ton­ish­ing 12 sec­onds clear of Bell’s Mclaren when he pit­ted from the lead to hand over to Parfitt.

With the suc­cess penalty of seven sec­onds, Mor­ris had more than com­pen­sated for the loss of time mean­ing that Parfitt came out well in front. He was then able to drive into the dis­tance for the win ahead of Alis­tair Mccaig, who took over from Bell.

Bell wasn’t ever able to chal­lenge the Bent­ley, ad­mit­ting the Con­ti­nen­tal had the pace ad­van­tage.

“It’s mixed emo­tions for us,” he said. “You never want to be sec­ond, but with our sea­son so far with grem­lins here and there it’s a good re­sult. The car was very good, but the Bent­ley was so quick.”

Keen and Min­shaw bounced back from their race one mishap to take the fi­nal podium place, ahead of TF Sport’s Adam and John­ston.

While GT3 was largely pro­ces­sional, GT4 had a fas­ci­nat­ing duel for the win that even­tu­ally crowned Johnson and Robin­son dou­ble win­ners.

The pair had the pace, but the tight con­fines of Oul­ton Park meant the duo had to wait for those in front to make mis­takes.

Early leader Scott Malvern was cru­elly forced out of a com­fort­able lead with power steer­ing fail­ure, be­fore Anna Walewksa’s mis­take led to a crash at Lodge.

While Johnson would in­herit the lead as a con­se­quence, he was made to fight hard for it as Ab­bie Ea­ton and Mar­cus Hog­garth’s pace reg­u­larly had their Ebor Maserati on the tail of their Ginetta.

The Maserati would go on to take their first podium with a sec­ond place fin­ish, with Robert Barrable and Aaron Ma­son fin­ish­ing the ros­trum. ■

Both Lam­bos had pace, with Grif­fin/carroll (r) win­ning

Parfitt and Mor­ris took dom­i­nant vic­tory in the sec­ond race at Oul­ton

Johnson/robin­son: two GT4 wins

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