Mercedes was the marque to beat in both the GT3 and GT4 classes at Sunday’s Silverstone 500 three-hour British GT race, which saw its final result decided in the closing minutes in typically exciting fashion.
The Ram Racing entry of Ian Loggie and Calum Macleod triumphed in GT3 after a dramatic final-stint battle with the polesitting TF Sport Aston Martin of Graham Davidson and Johnny Adam, while in GT4, Nick Jones and Scott Malvern made up for the last-minute disappointment of Snetterton with overall and Pro-Am class victory.
GT3: full report
After two hours and 45 minutes of uninterrupted green-flag racing, the destiny of the GT3 win came down to a straightforward scrap between the cars that had started first and second on the grid, each with their Pro driver aboard. Macleod had got aboard the Ram car slightly later than Adam had taken over the #47 Aston from Davidson, and so his tyres were in better shape initially.
That allowed Macleod to swiftly reel in the roughly five-second advantage Adam had held when the final round of pitstops was completed, but naturally finding a way past the 2017 Le Mans GTE winner would be a tougher ask.
Macleod got very close on a number of occasions, but Adam looked to have gained some breathing space when Macleod went a fraction too deep into Vale while following on lap 80. The defining moment arrived as the pair came up to lap the #19 GT4-class Mustang of Chad McCumbee, which made contact with Adam’s car as they passed through Maggots-Becketts.
With Adam having lost momentum through the corner, Macleod went charging down the other side of the lapped car to take the lead as they went through Chapel, but things went from bad to worse for Adam as the Aston and Mustang hit again, sending the Scotsman into a spin and instant retirement due to broken suspension.
It was a cruel end to a very strong outing for the #47 crew, that had included a dominant pole position on Saturday and tough stints for Davidson earlier in the race as he soaked up pressure from behind. Equally, however, Loggie and Macleod hadn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and will savour the win all the more after enduring a difficult opening round at Oulton and missing out on Snetterton entirely due to Loggie’s cycling injury.
“I’m well chuffed with that, it was an amazing race,” said Loggie afterwards. “Calum kept the pressure on, okay the GT4 came across Jonny at the end, but that’s motorsport, sometimes it goes with you and sometimes it goes against you.”
It could possibly have been a three-way scrap for the lead, were it not for the Balfe Motorsport McLaren incurring a 10-second stop-go penalty during its final pitstop, when one of the doors wouldn’t stay closed during refuelling.
Shaun Balfe had pushed Davidson hard for the lead in the early stages, and although a 10-second success penalty from Snetterton also had to be factored in, a spot on the podium would surely have been a given for Balfe and co-driver Rob Bell were it not for the door issue.
For TF Sport, the disappointment of Adam’s demise was tempered by the team’s other crew of Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim coming home in second in the #2 Vantage. Like Davidson, Farmer had run a very long opening stint, but even after Thiim’s first stint, the car was only on the fringes of the top 10.
It was the Dane’s second stint that really made the difference, as he caught and passed Seb Morris’s Bentley for third, which became second in the closing laps after Adam’s retirement. For their part, Morris and co-driver Rick Parfitt were massively pleased to finish on the podium after a lacklustre qualifying had seen them start down in 11th place.
Parfitt kept his nose clean at the start and then used controlled aggression to move up to fifth before handing over to Morris, who survived some tough battles during his stints to stay in the mix right to the end. The duo’s joy was short-lived, however, as the JRM car was disqualified following post-race technical inspection for being underweight.
That promoted WPI Motorsport to a very impressive third overall in only the team’s second race running the GT3 Lamborghini. The presence of Lamborghini factory driver Dennis Lind was certainly a factor, but co-driver Michael Igoe pulled off some of the best overtaking of the event during his stint, gaining two places with an opportunistic move through the Loop on lap nine to muscle into sixth, from where both drivers were able to keep the car in contention and move up due to others’ misfortune over their remaining stints.
Behind the WPI car, Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis’ Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin finished fourth overall and was also the first GT3 Silver Cup car across the line, despite suffering a knock from behind from the #77 GT4-class Fox Motorsport Mercedes just over an hour of the race still to run.
Andrew Howard and Marco Sorensen were fifth in the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin, while a very up-and-down weekend for the #7 Team Parker Bentley crew of Glynn Geddie and Ryan Ratcliffe ended in sixth place at the flag, partly due to a 30-second penalty being applied to their race time (in lieu of a drive-through, which cannot be taken in the final 10 minutes of a race) as punishment for four track-limits violations in the final hour.
The car had started from the back of the GT3 grid, and Glynn Geddie had plenty of fun in the opening stint, making up eight places on the first lap and getting as high as third in the early laps, but also at one point making contact with the Richard Neary-driven Team Abba Mercedes, which later retired to the garage with Adam Christodoulou at the wheel.
Ratcliffe then lost several positions during his stint, dropping back down to eighth by the time he handed the car back to Geddie, but worse was to come in the shape of the aforementioned penalty.
It was a disheartening race for the two Barwell Lamborghinis, which were put on the back foot early on when Adam Balon in the #72 car sent Sam de Haan in the #69 into a spin as they negotiated Village corner. That led to an early stop for repairs to de Haan’s car and a handover to Jonny Cocker, as well as a 10-second stop-go penalty for Balon for causing the collision. The cars finished seventh and eighth respectively, with Adam’s stricken Aston being classified ninth, ahead of the JMH Lamborghini.
Century Motorsport’s GT3 BMWs endured a miserable afternoon, with the #9 of JM Littman and Jack Mitchell having to pit from the formation lap with a mechanical issue and the #3 of Dominic Paul and Ben Green retiring after 34 laps. The debuting G-Cat Racing Porsche of Greg Caton and Shamus Jennings was also a retirement.
GT4: full report
A delighted Nick Jones and Scott Malvern wasted no time in making up for the disappointment of their late-race retirement from the lead of the second Snetterton race by taking their maiden overall GT4 win at the maximum points-paying three-hour race at Silverstone.
A number of contenders in this class fell by the wayside early on, including the Race Performance Mustang of Smelt and Taylor-Smith, which didn’t make it past the formation lap. Then, Canadian Ben Hurst’s race in the #61 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin came to an end at Luffield on lap three after contact with Jordan Collard’s #5 Tolman Motorsport McLaren.
Collard didn’t escape unscathed, retiring next lap around with a puncture and front-right corner damage. Tolman’s other car, the #4 of James Dorlin and Josh Smith, had a much better start to the race, leading in the second stint due to a 10-second pitstop-infringement penalty for the polesitting #95 TF Sport Aston Martin, which had been started by Josh Price.
Behind Price, Scott Maxwell had the #15 Multimatic Mustang in its now-familiar position near the sharp end of the field in the early stages, just ahead of the championship-leading #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren of Callum Pointon.
Eventual race winner Jones lost two places on the opening lap in the Team Parker Mercedes, and sensibly let the Silver Cup runners get on with it during his first stint at the wheel, but kept the car in the overall GT4 top 10 before handing over to Malvern for the first time.
Another drive-through penalty for another too-short pitstop dealt a final blow to the #95 Aston’s victory chances, despite Price and co-driver Patrick Kibble’s strong pace, while Jones and Malvern’s path to victory was cleared by retirement for the #4 Tolman car just after the second round of pitstops.
The presence of Mercedes-AMG factory driver Max Buhk alongside 2011 GT4 champion Peter Belshaw helped the ERC Sport race-by-race entry to second in GT4, while the #15 of Maxwell and Scott Priaulx crossed the line in third.
That car’s final pitstop was investigated for a potential infringement, however, with 30 seconds eventually being added to its time post-race, bumping them off the podium. While the car’s stop time from pit-in to pit-out was above the minimum required, Priaulx had slowed to a crawl while driving down the pitlane in order to hit this mark, something not permitted by the rules.
That meant original fourth-place finishers Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman in the Beechdean Aston Martin moved up the order in the final classification to third overall, with the #97 TF Sport and #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martins inheriting fourth and fifth in class respectively. Maxwell and Priaulx’s penalised position was sixth.
British GT’s next stop is the first of two visits to Donington Park, on 22-23 June for a single two-hour race.