Race one

Motor Sport News - - British Gt Snetterton -

Min­shaw and Keen took the cham­pi­onship lead ini­tially af­ter win­ning a con­tro­ver­sial first out­ing, in which Lee Mowle and Joe Os­borne were stripped of a maiden win to­gether.

Hav­ing driven to­gether since 2013 – largely at the sharp end of the grid – it’s a crime that Mowle and Os­borne haven’t won a race to­gether. They came ag­o­nis­ingly close to break­ing their duck in the AMD Tun­ing BMW Z4, but for a clash with Keen’s Hu­ra­can when fight­ing for the lead.

The story of qual­i­fy­ing was all about TF Sport though, as Mark Farmer pumped in a great time to top the ama­teur ses­sion and snatch pole for the first out­ing. Min­shaw started along­side him with John­ston be­hind.

How­ever, while the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated cars thrived, the turbo bri­gade were strug­gling.

Rick Parfitt Jr and Seb Morris have been the kings of qual­i­fy­ing so far this year, with four poles from six races in the Team Parker Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tal. But Snet­ter­ton proved a speed­bump.

“The BOP [Bal­ance of Per­for­mance] rates this track the same as Sil­ver­stone, but it’s not as flow­ing as Sil­ver­stone,” said Parfitt. “We’re lack­ing straight­line speed as our per­for­mance is in the cor­ners and in torque out of them with the turbo, but against the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated cars we’re nowhere on the straights, which are half the lap here.”

The Bent­ley was handed an ad­di­tional 15kg of weight and a re­duc­tion in boost pres­sure. The car lagged in the speed traps in all three sec­tors, mean­ing Parfitt could only man­age a sixth place start, with the sim­i­larly forcedin­duc­tion Mclaren 650S of Alas­dair Mccaig along­side on the third row.

With Farmer and team-mate Jon Barnes fac­ing an ex­tra 10 sec­onds sta­tion­ary in the pits af­ter their win at Spa, things looked good for Min­shaw and Keen, and got even bet­ter half­way around the first lap.

The fast-start­ing Mccaig and John­ston were tus­sling over third place when Mccaig clipped the rear of the As­ton out of Agostini, send­ing both cars on to the grass. John­ston re­cov­ered to run ninth, and Mccaig got go­ing in 11th, but later re­tired with ra­di­a­tor dam­age.

With the cham­pi­onship lead­ers strug­gling, Min­shaw had a chance and shad­owed Farmer for the first stint know­ing he didn’t need to make a move on track to net the lead.

Both lead cars stopped to­gether, as did Mowle, who was per­haps the big­gest ben­e­fi­ciary of the first-lap chaos to run third with Parfitt in tow. Once Barnes had re­joined, he was down to third, with Keen in­stalled in the now-lead­ing Hu­ra­can, but with Os­borne on his tail.

Os­borne towed onto the back of Keen through traf­fic and made a lunge for the lead into the Bomb Hole, but in­ad­ver­tently tapped the rear of the Lambo, spin­ning Keen down to sec­ond.

It handed Os­borne a seven-sec­ond cush­ion, and caught the stew­ards’ at­ten­tion, who de­manded Os­borne serve a drive-through penalty for his er­ror. Os­borne de­clined and took the flag on the road any­way, but was de­moted to fifth af­ter hav­ing 30 sec­onds added to his race time.

“It was my mis­take, I just went in a bit hot and couldn’t stop the car,” said Os­borne. “But in my mind the penalty way ex­ceeds the crime on this one.”

It handed Keen and Min­shaw the win, and with John­ston and Adam only able to sal­vage fourth, swung the cham­pi­onship in their favour.

“We’re on a real run of form, but it was a close call with Joe, I know he didn’t do it on pur­pose and he’s apol­o­gised,” said Keen. “We’re not think­ing about the points yet as there’s still a lot on of­fer.”

Barnes and Farmer in­her­ited a fine sec­ond to keep their ti­tle hopes alive. Parfitt and Morris were third.

The Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren team fought back from me­chan­i­cal trou­ble to cel­e­brate its first GT4 class win with the new 570S GT4 as Ciaran Hag­gerty and Sandy Mitchell starred.

Hav­ing es­sen­tially dom­i­nated the last race at Spa be­fore a fuel sys­tem fail­ure, the pair en­dured a cool­ing pipe prob­lem, which sapped power in qual­i­fy­ing. Mitchell re­gard­less placed the car third, which was good news as both the pole­sit­ting Lanan Ginetta of Alex Reed and the sec­ond-placed Op­ti­mum car of Gra­ham John­son both had suc­cess penal­ties to serve in the pits.

Jack Mitchell’s As­ton Martin and Jack Bartholomew’s Beechdean car jumped Reed early on as a tardy start for Sandy Mitchell left him sixth at the first lap. Re­gard­less the teenager put in a mea­sured drive to sit third when the pit win­dow opened.

Hag­gerty re­joined in the lead with Matthew Gra­ham [in for Jack Mitchell] and Ross Gunn [for Bartholomew] in hot pur­suit. Gra­ham and Gunn rubbed be­fore Gunn slipped past and piled the pres­sure on Hag­gerty, but the young Scot held firm to se­cure the win.

“Col­lec­tively we’ve worked hard as a team this week­end,” said Sandy Mitchell, who be­came the youngest ever Bri­tish GT race win­ner. “The clos­ing stages were nerve-wrack­ing as Ross was re­ally fast and we couldn’t get a gap.”

Joey Fos­ter brought the Lanan car home fourth, ahead of John­son/mike Robin­son’s points-lead­ing Ginetta, which strug­gled with a bal­ance is­sue.

Farmer and Barnes had an­other im­pres­sive week­end in TF Sport As­ton

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