Seeing the British GT season out on a high

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

With the past six months having seemingly passed in a flash, last weekend saw the final round of the 2017 British GT Championship play itself out from Donington Park.

Sadly with no Aston Martin Racing team in the mix for any of the then undecided GT3 and GT4 championships all that was at stake was personally pride and to finish the job that many started way back at the turn of the year in a fitting and glorious style.

Things didn't exactly get off to a great start however with the last minute withdrawal of both MacMillan Racing GT3 and GT4 cars due to unforeseen circumstances leaving just TF Sport an Academy Motorsport to fill the voids in both classes.

Very mindful of the championship stakes for those immediately around them, both GT3 cars from TF Sport went out to dominate proceedings in both Free Practice and then Qualifying to claim the front two places for Sundays two hour race. Not to be out done, the #62 car of Matt Nichol-Jones and Will Moore also snatched the GT4 pole to make things a clean sweep for the marque.

Life in the old Vantage yet!!

With the Am Drivers starting the race, the biggest risk was for both cars to take each other out at the first corner and despite a little 'rubbing' going in all thankfully materialised out the other side Redgate to race another lap. Interrupting the TF Sport proceedings was the championship contesting Barwell Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw who split the AMR symmetry for a brief while before the pressure of the event caused him to spin out at the Fogarty Esses restoring the status quo.

That allowed Mark Farmer to doggedly defend his overall lead from team mate Derek Johnston in his new red liveried car for the entire length of their one hour minimum drive time with some great car craft  being on display from both.

Unfortunately for Will Moore, the reoccurrence of an old intermittent electrical issue abroad his V8 Vantage GT4 was causing him to periodically loose power, dropping positions all the time until an unfortunate Ginetta GT4 behind collided heavily with the rare of the #62 after one such event ending his own race and GT4 championship aspirations on the spot but at least the #62 was able to continue.

Just fifteen minutes later and only thirty minutes into the race what would later turn out to be a catastrophic failure of the cars gearbox casing saw the sveltely liveried #62 to come to a premature end after a brief oil fire on the side of the track - it was over and out for them.

Meanwhile, the two TF Sport cars were still racing hammer and tongs with the race decisive move coming as Farmer elected to pit on his hour mark leaving Johnston a clear track on which to do his own in lap unhindered. A ten second success penalty then applied against the #11 car pitstop after their result at the previous round at Brands Hatch allowed Jonny Adam to exist the pit lane now in the #1 car a pit lane length just ahead of the #11 car with Jon Barnes now at the wheel.

With racing of the highest calibre for the next hour that would be how the race would ultimate finish with a fine 1-2 for the Tom Ferrier led team - just six races too late to make anything of it!

Speaking with both Mark Farmer and Derek Johnston afterwards, both confirmed that with 'all planets aligning and everything else remaining equal' it would be their desire to return to the British GT Championship with the TF Sport team if at all possible. The only doubt seemed to be regarding whether or not AMR factory driver Jonny Adam would again be available to mentor Johnston.

With Johnston assuring us that despite his recent LMP3 test at Donington the other week he had absolutely no desire to follow the prototype formula as his body was too old for them and he had been spoiled by the AMR Vantage GT3 which has again proven itself to remain as a race winner despite its age.

And for Farmer - its like Jon Barnes said on the starting grid - "he's had unbelievable performance this weekend but there's always room for improvement!"

Hopefully see you next year guys!

Photo credit - Jacob Ebrey (podium shot)
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