Haigh, Adam claim victory at Brands Hatch
Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam claimed the British GT Championship points lead by taking the victory in the penultimate round of the series at Brands Hatch, following a thrilling battle against Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
The Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin overcame a 10s pitstop success penalty to take second win of the season and record-breaking 14th of Adam’s career. TF Sport’s Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim kept their title chances alive by climbing from 10th to third after Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen’s erstwhile championship-leading Barwell Lamborghini retired with an overheating engine.
Elsewhere, defending Pro/Am champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson came through from 13th to claim their first GT4 win of the season, while Ben Tuck overtook two cars on the final lap to hand the Century Motorsport BMW he shares with Ben Green a hard-fought second place finish. UltraTek Racing’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman completed the podium.
Having successfully converted pole into a 12s lead, Haigh’s hopes of overturning Optimum’s 10s success penalty appeared to be scuppered by a lengthy mid-stint safety car period. Barrier damage resulting from Mike Newbould’s crash on the start/finish straight ensured racing didn’t resume until six minutes before the pitstop window opened, which left little opportunity to re-establish a suitable advantage.
Nevertheless, Haigh’s rapid restart and three quick laps offered Optimum a glimmer of hope against a chasing pack headed by Graham Davidson’s Jetstream Aston Martin, the similar Beechdean AMR-run V12 Vantage driven by Andrew Howard, and Minshaw’s championship-leading Barwell Lamborghini. And, sure enough, it was Adam who emerged just ahead of Turner and Keen, who struggled to find a space amongst the gaggle of cars exiting the pits at the same moment.
With Davidson’s co-driver, Maxime Martin, delayed by a 20s success penalty for winning at Spa, and Team Parker’s Rick Parfitt Jnr/Ryan Ratcliffe similarly handicapped, it was Barwell’s second Lamborghini that emerged as an unlikely leader after benefitting from a clear pitlane. Indeed, stopping a lap later helped De Haan and Cocker jump from sixth to first as the race entered its second hour.
With Turner unable to match Adam’s pace, the battle for victory soon developed into a two-way scrap between Barwell’s Lamborghini and Optimum’s Aston Martin. Lap after lap Adam tracked Cocker, the gap never more than a second and frequently much less as the Scot searched for a way past. Cocker defended resolutely but, as the race ticked into its final five minutes, Adam finally prised an opening exiting Hawthorns before sprinting away to his 14th British GT victory.
Behind, a five-car battle for third was playing out between Turner, Keen, Nicki Thiim, Yelmer Buurman and Marco Sorensen who circulated together for much of the stint. That was until Keen’s championship hopes were dented by a blocked radiator and subsequently overheating engine, which forced the Lamborghini into retirement.
Thus Nicki Thiim inherited fourth, which became third just before the chequered flag at Turner’s expense. The TF Sport Aston Martin he shares with Mark Farmer started 10th but claimed the final podium place and, with it, retained a chance of winning the title at Donington Park next month. ERC Sport’s Lee Mowle and Buurman finished fifth, one place ahead of TF Sport’s second Aston Martin shared by Derek Johnston and Sorensen who once again set Sunoco Fastest Lap, while Team Parker Racing’s #7 Bentley finished seventh.
As it stands, Haigh and Adam will take a 17.5-point lead over Minshaw and Keen into the final round next month, while Farmer and Thiim are another point behind.