TF Sport doesn’t look back for Rockingham victory

Monday, May 02, 2016

Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam converted their mega pole time from qualifying into a dominant victory in the GT3 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage. In the British GT Championship’s GT4 class, the Beechdean AMR Vantage of Jordan Albert and Jack Bartholomew inherited victory after post-race penalties were applied.

At the start of the race, Johnston held position on the inside going into Rockingham’s banked turn one even with Alisdair McCaig’s Ecurie Ecosse McLaren trying everything in its power to outfox Johnston around the outside. However, Johnston was too wise to fall for that trick and kept his foot down on the run towards the Deene Hairpin to ensure the #17 remained in the lead.

Elsewhere on the opening few corners an incident started by the Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS - an ill-judged down the inside of Mike Simpson’s Tolman Motorsport Ginetta going into Yentwood - had a knock-on effect for the #1 Beechdean AMR machive driven by Andrew Howard where the collision between the Audi & Ginetta hit the Vantage’s rear-right wheel causing steering issues.

That didn’t stop Howard though, and carried on most of the first stint comfortably mid-pack in GT3.

At the start for the GT4 class, pole-sitter Graham Johnson kept up the #50 PMW World Expo Racing’s good speed in practice and qualifying by building up a good gap from pole position to the Generation AMR SuperRacing Aston of Matthew George. George, in his second outing in British GT, was himself doing a very good job of keeping Sandy Mitchell’s third-placed McLaren 570S GT4 behind on the opening lap.

As the race began to settle and become a game of high-speed Chess, Andrew Howard was one of many cars caught in the wake of a Bentley on a charge as Rick Parfitt Jnr took his Team Parker Racing Continental and stuck it up the inside of the Beechdean car heading turn one, relegating a damage-affected Howard down into fifth place.

Coming towards the pitstop window, it tended to settle down for the Aston Martin entries on a circuit many drivers - notably Jonny Adam - said was very abrasive on tyres, with one driver describing it as a “cheese grater”.

None of those concerns would worry Johnston though, as he kept clocking quick lap after quick lap to extend his lead at the front to over ten seconds from Liam Griffin in the Irish TV sponsored Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

Once the pitstop window opened, many thought the 20 second success penalty given to the TF Sport pair would hamper their efforts at staying in the lead but a super end-of-stint by Johnston meant the car would come out in second place - behind Will Moore’s Optimum Audi which ran for a few laps longer before relinquishing the lead as it came in for it’s stop.

Notably while the pitstop window was open, a coming together on School Straight between PFL Motorsport’s Jody Fannin and GT4 class leader Graham Johnson saw both cars retired on the spot.

That retirement allowed Jamie Chadwick, having taken over the SuperRacing machine, to move into a podium place and, having got the better of an Ebor GT Maserati double-stinting its tyres, was lying in second place behind the GT4 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren. However, in a GT4 war of attrition Chadwick would have to retire her car because of brake issues.

Those retirements and shuffles would allow the Baby Beechdean AMR entry now driven by Jordan Albert to swoop in for a podium place. Suffering from a problem themselves, a long brake pedal, Albert couldn’t hold off a hard-charging Nathan Freke in the Century Motorsport Ginetta and would have to settle for second place.

However, a post-race penalty for the Freke/Walewska Ginetta for overtaking under yellow flags would see them excluded from the results and promote the Beechdean entry to class victory.

Back into GT3 and Jonny Adam would carry on where Johnston left off by extending out a decent lead over Phil Keen and Adam Carroll in the two Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis who were squabbling over second and third.

The two Lamborghini’s slowing each other down allowed Beechdean’s Ross Gunn to close up on the pair, and when Carroll was given a drive-through penalty for overtaking before the restart after a brief safety car, Gunn was already on for a podium but was hassling Keen for second place with Adam too far up the road to be caught.

Try as he might, Keen was too good to get past and rather than try a reckless lunge up the inside, Gunn settled for third and valuable championship points. After the race Howard praised Gunn’s maturity for not making a move and bringing the car home for a strong finish.

Adam would cross the line in the lead for his second win in a row and Johnston’s third in a row after his success at Donington Park alongside Matt Bell.

The next round of the British GT Championship is at Oulton Park on the May bank holiday weekend at the end of the month with two one-hour races for the grid to tackle.

Joe Hudson
Photo Credits - Jacob Ebrey
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