British GT Oulton Park Report

The British GT Championship returned to Oulton Park last weekend (11th & 12th September) for the penultimate round of the 2021 season. A grid of 24 GT3 and GT4 supercars tackled a pair of 60-minute races around the undulating Cheshire circuit.

Race 1

Kelvin Fletcher had given Paddock Motorsport their maiden GT3 pole, and the big Bentley led the field away at the start of race one, followed by the guest RAM Racing Mercedes of Kevin Tse. Fletcher initially built a small advantage over the chasing pack of Tse, the Enduro Motorsport McLaren of Morgan Tilbrook, and Michael Igoe in the WPI Lamborghini. Tilbrook then spun at Cascades, which delayed Igoe and dropped the Lamborghini to fifth place.

Fletcher was now under real pressure from a charging Tse, and as the pair began to lap the GT4 runners, the Bentley ran wide at Old Hall, allowing the RAM Mercedes through into the lead. Richard Neary also made it past the Bentley in the Team ABBA Mercedes AMG, taking second place just as the pit window opened.

Tse handed the RAM Mercedes over to Tom Onslow-Cole, while Richard Neary handed over to son Sam, and the two pro drivers emerged from their pit stops together. Onslow-Cole was able to hold off Neary and extend his lead to around 5 seconds by the end of the race, giving RAM a well deserved race victory.’

Behind the winning Merc, Neary had his mirrors full of Dennis Lind’s Barwell Lamborghini, the factory driver putting the matte black Mercedes under sustained pressure for the second half of the race. Lind was unable to find a way through, with Neary holding on to second place by just 7 tenths of a second at the flag.

For Paddock Motorsport, the race fell apart after the pit stops, with an off track excursion and a 30s time penalty for repeated track limits violations dropping the Bentley to 10th in the final standings. Fourth place went to the Team Parker Racing Porsche of Nic Jones and Scott Malvern, with the WPI Lamborghini of Michael Igoe and Phil Keen taking fifth place.

In GT4, Matt Topham and Darren Turner gave Newbridge Motorsport their second win of the season, while Will Burns and Gus Burton moved to within touching distance of the championship after a well judged drive to second place.

Their main title challengers and Centurt Motorsport team mates Chris Sakeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrook retired from race 1 after contact with the Balfe McLaren of Jack Brown at Lodge corner, meaning the #57 Century BMW crew are almost guaranteed the GT4 drivers title.

Behind the runaway top two, Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams put in a strong drive to take third place for Steller Motorsport aboard their Audi R8 GT4.

Race 2

The second race of the day was held in extremely wet conditions, with the cars given an extra formation lap due to the weather. When the lights went out Scott Malvern lead from pole in the Team Parker Porsche, and was immediately under huge pressure from Sandy Mitchell and Dennis Lind behind in the Barwell Lamborghinis. Malvern drove an excellent opening stint in atrocious weather to hold off the charging Lamborghini pair, holding the lead until the pit windown opened. Lind took second from Mitchell just as the safety car was deployed to rescue Tom Onslow-Cole’s beached RAM Mercedes.

The timing of the safety car lead to a flurry of activity in the pit lane, with the top six all pitting together. Success penalties for Team Parker and Barwell should have let Adam Balon emerge in the lead, but a slow getaway let the RAM Mercedes of Ian Loggie come out in the lead ahead of Michael Igoe in the WPI Lamborghini and Nic Jones in the Porsche. However a drive through penalty for Loggie dropped him down the order, and gave Igoe a sizeable lead that he held to the end of the race to take victory at WPI’s home track.

Behind the victorious red Lamborghini, Adam Balon took second place for Barwell while Loggie recovered to take third place for RAM Racing. The result means that Barwell Motorsport take the GT3 Teams Championship for 2021, but the driver’s title goes down to the wire at Donington Park next month, with 5 crews in with a mathematical chance of taking the title.

In GT4, Will Burns and Gus Burton sealed the GT4 drivers title with a win, while Century Motorsport are also crowned GT4 teams champions with their pair of BMW M4s. In doing so they become the first crew to secure a British GT title before the final round of the season since 2015.

Burton started fourth but could do nothing about returning GT4 champion Jamie Caroline who put on a superb wet-weather display aboard Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Supra.

He looked peerless after passing Darren Turner’s pole-sitting Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin around the outside at Old Hall and quickly pulled a comfortable margin over the field. The only man to keep the runaway leader honest was Sennan Fielding whose Steller Audi thrived in the conditions to surge up to second, just before the race was interrupted by a Safety Car to clear RAM’s stranded Mercedes-AMG.

That turned the race on its head as the caution period coincided with GT4’s pit window opening. Everyone other than Caroline and Turner dived in at the first opportunity, but it was the various Success Penalties and additional Silver class minimum pitstop time that really jumbled the order.

The net result saw Mark Sansom’s Assetto Motorsport Ginetta emerge in the lead just ahead of John Ferguson, who had taken the Supra over from Caroline. However, there was a queue of faster drivers behind the pair.

In the soaking conditions and with their pitstop advantage neutralised neither Am driver stood much chance against the likes of Team Rocket RJN’s McLarens driven by James Kell and Michael Benyahia who soon took first and second, respectively. Burns, who had taken over from Burton, then followed them through

Benyahia wasn’t satisfied with second and crawled all over Kell for the lead before launching an attack at Knickerbrook. The two McLarens made contact and Benyahia got off the throttle to prevent tipping his team-mate round, which opened the door for Burns to take second place

From there Burns had the bit between his teeth, taking the lead at Old Hall and holding it for the rest of the race to seal the championship title.

Words and images by Rich Crawford.

Full results can be found here.