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.