Round 3 of the British GT Championship rumbled back into life at Rockingham “The Rock” Motor Speedway at the weekend for a two hour race. After the performance of the Phil Keen/Jon Minshaw Barwell Lamborghini could they toppled this weekend.
Reigning GT3 champions Jonny Adam and Derek Johnstone started on pole with their TF-Sport Aston Martin team-mates Jon Barnes and Mark Farmer alongside. As the race started Jon Minshaw in his Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini leap-frogged Mark Farmer for second while pole-sitter Derek Johnstone made good his escape. Further back James Littlejohn and his Macmillan AMR moved from ninth to third by the time they crossed the line at the end of lap one.
Just as soon as the race begun, it was momentarily neutralised as the safety car was sent out as Harry Gottsacker ended up in the gravel trap at ?? in his Century Motorsport Ginetta. Once action got back underway we were about to be entertained as three cars were battling for that race lead TF-Sport Johnstone holding off Barwell’s Minshaw who in-turn was holding off Littlejohn in his Macmillan AMR. Behind the top three, TF-Sport’s Mark Farmer was battling away with Parfitt Jnr, Spirit of Race Duncan Cameron, AMD’s Lee Mowle and Liam Griffin’s Lamborghini who was back in eighth after a poor start.
Johnstone in his TF-Sport Aston was soon struggling out in front and couldn’t do anything to stop Minshaw’s Lamborghini and LittleJohn’ Macmillan AMR Aston overtaking him going into the final chicane. As Johnstone dropped back, Littlejohn was pushing on to challenge the Lamborghini. A great battle out front ensued but in the end Minshaw had to concede as the Macmillan AMR Aston dived down the inside at Deene.
Action in the GT3 class
Further back, Cameron’s Spirit of the Race Ferrari had incurred a five second time penalty for track limits. This was added to his in-race time and this would have a bearing later on in the race.
Just before the pit stops there was another safety car period and on the hour mark teams started to dive to the pits. With the success penalties from Oulton Park in play, the Macmillan AMR came out in the lead with Mitchell at the wheel and behind them the Team Parker Bentley of Seb Morris in second.
Liam Griffin and his Ferrari came out of his stop in fourth and didnt waste time in getting past the AMDTuning.com Mercedes of Ryan Ratcliffe and set off in pursuit of Mitchell and Morris. The pace of the Ferrari made short work of the eight second gap that it wasn’t long before he was involved in a three-way fight for the lead. At the chicane the Bentley managed to force a way past the Aston Martin and was closely followed by the Ferrari.
The Ferrari was still carrying the five second penalty so if Griffin wanted to give Ferrari a win he would have to clear Morris and pull out a sizeable gap. There was a small chance and Griffin took it, but contact was made between Griffin and Morris. Now the Ferrari was past, Griffin had to pull out at least a five-second gap to balance out the penalty. Unfortunately for Griffin and his Spirit of Race Ferrari the safety car was deployed for a third time in the race with 24 minutes to go.
An epic battle was on the cards but MSA rules put paid to that. The rules state “a Safety Car must pick up the leader”. Even though Griffin lead on the road, the five second penalty dropped him down to fifth and because of this Griffin was waved past so he could rejoin the pack, albeit at the back. This enabled Griffin to gain that five second advantage and re-set the timing in his favour.
At the end of the of two hours racing when the flag fell, Griffin and his Spirit of Race Ferrari had a huge 25.052s gap ahead of Morris in his Bentley. Further back Mitchell in his Aston managed to hold off Phil Keen in his Barwell Lamborghini (who had to take that 20s time penalty because of the success last time out) and the other Barwell Lamborghini. In fact it was a sprint to the line between these three and only 0.5s covered the three of them after two hours of racing.
As the flag fell, there was huge questions and debate about the Safety Car procedure. Race control had in fact followed the regulations correctly, however an investigation was underway over the way Griffin had got past Morris earlier. There had indeed been contact and because the race had concluded Morris couldn’t get past so a time penalty was applied, 26s to be precise. This gave the Team Parker duo, Parfitt Jnr and Morris the win.
GT3 Winners – Team Parker Bentley