The 2020 British GT Championship roared into life at Oulton Park last weekend (1st-2nd August), with a pair of 60 minute races to kick off the season.
E-sports champion James Baldwin had a dream start to his GT racing career, taking a debut victory alongside Michael O’Brien in the Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S. In GT4, the TF Sport pairing of Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble converted their pole position into a comfortable win over the HHC Motorsport McLaren of Patrick Matthiesen and Jordan Collard.
Lewis Proctor led the field away from pole in the Optimum Motorsport McLaren, closely followed the the 2 Seas Motorsport car of Jordan Witt, who applied pressure throughout the opening stint. As the pit window opened after 22 minutes, Proctor dived straight into the pits while Witt continued, hoping to undercut the orange McLaren with a quick lap. The strategy worked, with Witt pitting a lap later and handing over to Jack Mitchell, who emerged in the lead of the race.
Behind the leaders, the second 2 Seas McLaren of Angus Fender was being kept very honest by the charging James Baldwin, revelling in his first race at this level and staying within half a second of Fender throughout the first stint. Rob Collard was also part of this group in the Barwell Lamborghini, having got past Sam De Haan’s Mercedes early in the race.
All three pitted together, and it was the Jenson Team Rocket car that emerged at the head of the group, now with Michael O’Brien aboard in third place. Mitchell was now streaking away at the head of the field, but all his good work would be undone when a pitstop infringement resulted in a 10-second stop and go penalty.
This handed O’Brien the lead, having just passed Ollie Wilkinson at Hislop’s chicane. O’Brien extended his lead, and held on after a late race safety car to take a memorable win. Wilkinson took second place for Optimum Motorsport, ahead of Dean MacDonald to complete a McLaren clean sweep of the podium. Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell took fourth for Barwell Motorsport, with the pair of RAM Racing Mercedes-AMGs taking 5th and 6th place.
In GT4, the No.95 TF Sport Aston Martin of Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble took a comfortable win, building a huge lead over the Speedworks Motorsport Toyota Supra which was further extended following a penalty for the Japanese car, dropping them down to fourth at the flag. Second place went to the HHC Motorsport McLaren of Jordan Collard and Patrick Matthiesen, with the second TF Sport Aston Martin of Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan completing the podium.
Barwell Motorsport took a 1-2 in the day’s second race, with a 16th British GT win for Phil Keen, alongside Adam Balon. Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell took second, with the RAM Racing car of Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala completing the podium. The final 23 minutes of the race were run under safety car conditions following a sizeable accident that left several cars stranded around the circuit.
Keen led the field away from pole position under sunny skies, closely followed by team mate Sandy Mitchell and Marcus Clutton in the JMH Lamborghini, the Cheshire driver making a lightning start from 5th on the grid.
A traffic jam soon began to build up behind Clutton, allowing the Barwell pair to build a 16-second lead by the time Patrick Kujala finally fought his way up to third place in the RAM Mercedes.
Barwell stopped the second placed Mitchell as soon as the pit window opened after 22 minutes, but left the charging Keen out on track until the very last moment, the No.72 Lamborghini entering the pit lane with just 5 seconds of the window remaining.
Sadly we were robbed of the finish to the race, with an incident involving the Team Parker Racing Bentley, the No.9 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren and the race one winning GT4 Aston Martin leaving badly damaged cars at various points around the track. The clean up operation proved too great to complete in the remaining race time, with the race finishing behind the safety car.
In GT4, Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey took the win aboard the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S, with the No.97 TF Sport Aston going one better than race one in second place, while Jordan Collard and Patrick Matthiesen took their second podium of the day in third place.