Not since 2007 has the Leicestershire venue staged two British GT races during the same meeting, while a break from series tradition – brought about by the revised calendar – sees one and two-hour contests take place on Sunday. The first – featuring a mandatory refuelling pitstop – awards the maximum 1.5x points, while the second reverts to the same 60-minute sprint rules used at Oulton Park at the start of August.
The unique format also calls for a slightly different qualifying method. Race 1’s grid is decided by the usual endurance regulations where the best time of each crew member is combined to determine a starting order. Fastest Q2 laps then set the grid for Race 2.
Few would have picked an esports champion and GT4 graduate to be leading the championship after round one. But that’s exactly the situation atop the early GT3 standings thanks to James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien who belied their inexperience to win Race 1 and score useful points in the second. What’s more, Jenson Team Rocket RJN also enter Sunday’s first race without a Pitstop Success Penalty, which rise to 20, 15 and 10 seconds for British GT’s endurance format.
The same can’t be said for either of Barwell Motorsport’s Lamborghinis, which lie second and third after scoring a one-two in Oulton’s second race. Adam Balon and Phil Keen – also the leading Pro/Am contenders – and their team-mates Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell must therefore remain stationary for an additional 20 and 15 seconds at half distance. There’s also the small matter of Barwell’s supposed Donington curse, which has afflicted its championship challenges in the past. The team will be hoping a change of date and the addition of a sprint race – a format Barwell has traditionally excelled in – can break the spell this weekend.
Two more crews lie within eight points of the early championship leaders thanks to podium visits at Oulton. Lewis Proctor’s pole position helped the Optimum McLaren he shares with Ollie Wilkinson to finish second in Race 1, while RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG featuring Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala took third in the second. The latter must therefore serve a 10-second Success Penalty this Sunday morning.
Neither of the joint-leading crews won a race at Oulton. Instead, a pair of podiums for Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen, and Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan see the HHC Motorsport and TF Sport drivers enjoy a two-point cushion over the chasing pack.
Second and third for Collard and Matthiesen was perhaps the best they could hope for at a track where TF Sport’s other Aston Martin appeared to have the upper hand all weekend. Nevertheless, it is the Anglo-Danish crew’s consistency that has kept the McLaren on top of the pile. What’s more, their Success Penalty will be five seconds shorter than that of Caroline and Vaughan who finished just ahead of them in Race 2.
The top step was filled by Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey who lie two points behind the early leaders. Flewitt’s victory was the first by a woman in British GT since Flick Haigh at Brands Hatch in 2018 but one that also carries a caveat of the full 20-second Success Penalty in Race 1. Some of that will be negated by the longer minimum pitstop time served by hers and Hankey’s Silver Cup rivals, while current championship leaders Collard/Matthiesen and Caroline/Vaughan will have an additional 10 and 15-seconds on top of that.