Michael Igoe and Andrea Caldarelli claimed the first endurance race win of the year at a misty wet Donington Park for round 3 of the British GT championship.
The Race got underway at 11:05 amongst some low lying mist and hazy rain sprinkling across the circuit upon it’s high perch at the very top of the Castle Donington Village. Despite their being an airport just next door to the circuit, you wouldn’t have had a clue as no one had seen a plane so far that day with the clouds hiding them from the human eye just after take off.
The safety car started the race with the cars following around for 2 laps before being released. Jenson Team Rocket RJN’s Michael O’Brien bolted as soon as the green flag dropped pulling Rob Collard and Sam De Haan along for the ride leaving the rest in their wake.
Igoe was by far the quickest out on the circuit, battling his way through the field the WPI squad found themselves in 4th position by the time of the pitstops after starting in a lowly 9th on the grid. As the leaders approached the GT4 cars, O’Brien’s time leading was counting down. The 20KG extra success ballast was soon starting to hinder the Mclaren and didn’t have the get up and go with that extra weight, the weight that helped get the traction in the wet was slowing the cars acceleration on the drying circuit.
Rob Collard was building the pressure from the Barwell Lamborghini with De Haan not far behind. Collard made a lunge at the esses and De Haan followed only a few corners later.
Approaching the hour mark majority of the runners pitted to switch over to their faster counterparts, splitting the race down the middle. Collard and a few others tried to stick out the conditions hoping the weather would begin to clear like the forecast sat but to no avail and eventually Barwell pulled Collard in to change over to Sandy Mitchell.
Mitchell lost to Patrick Kujala in the pitstops and soon was caught by a rapid Andrea Caldarelli in the WPI motorsport lapping faster than anyone on the circuit. WPI in 4th before the stop felt the bonus of no extra success penalty time in the pits and soon so them in contention as Caldarelli got to grips with the circuit more and more on his Donington Park debut.
Kujala had pace but Caldarelli had a lot more, the 2019 GT challenge champion motored up to the back of Kujala, lost time in traffic and within 2 laps was right back under the rear wing of the AMG. Caldarelli had the advantage going into the goddards hairpin, he used this to pull himself right in and put Kujala offline as they accelerated down the pit straight. Kujala had the inside line but could not keep the speed through the corner, Caldarelli kept his foot in round the outside and and took the lead through Redgate corner and soon dropped Kujala.
The final step of the podium was still up for grabs as the #72 Lamborghini from Barwell with Phil Keen onboard was chasing down the #6 RAM Racing AMG currently in the hands of Yelmur Buurman. Buurman was losing time lap by lap but with traffic just had enough to hold on and kept the final podium spot by 0.8 seconds despite Phil Keen setting the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap.
GT4 saw the TF Sport Aston’s take a 1-2 finish. The #95 of Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble took the class win, making it their second of the season in 3 races.
The sister #97 jumped past the HHC Mclaren of Patrick Matthiesen but couldn’t capitalise on this as the #36 Balfe Motorsport McLaren GT3 car was struggling in the conditions and couldn’t pull away from the GT4’s in the initial laps.
Entering the pitstop window Patrick Kibble pulled out a 14 second lead but having to serve a 15 second success penalty in the pitstops. The #95 would jump in the pit stops to take the lead from their team mates and maintain a steady 11 second lead all the way through to the chequered flag.
Third place went to the Speedworks run Toyota Supra of James Kell/Sam Smelt as the team finally delivered on the promise the car has showed during practice.