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Stefan Mackley

How a Pro mindset finally secured a British GT Am an overdue title

"Today it was a Benny Hill show and we still finished second. It just shows that you never give up, keep going.” The opening laps for Ian Loggie at the British GT Donington Park finale, which included a first-corner excursion and a harmless spin a few tours later, may have been somewhat comical, but there was nothing funny about the situation for the Scot in search of the GT3 title.

But it was a testament to the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG driver’s grit and determination that with perseverance, and a little luck, he was able to relay to team-mate Jules Gounon with the car in an unlikely second place – more than enough for Loggie’s maiden British GT Championship success.

Loggie had signalled his intent to win the title, which had narrowly eluded him and team-mate Yelmer Buurman 12 months earlier, by embarking on an incredible season of racing. As well as British GT, he competed in the GT Cup, GT World Challenge Europe, Asian Le Mans Series and Gulf Radical Cup – a total of more than 80 races.

“He’s in the car as much as some of the Pros,” says RAM team boss Dan Shufflebottom. “He’s not having to spend time getting used to being back in the car again, so he gets straight on it and that saves a lot of time. And because he’s in the car so often, you can do useful work with him. All those things really have helped us to be able to get the most out of every weekend.”

The results certainly justified the means, with two wins and a further four podiums across the nine-race calendar helping Loggie claim the title. The first victory came in the second of the two one-hour races at the Oulton Park opener. Gounon took pole with Loggie bringing it home – via an appeal to the UK National Court regarding whether success penalties should be applied post-race after an earlier red flag – while the second win arrived in the first one-hour race at Snetterton after Loggie bagged pole.

Mitchell and Balon finished runner-up in a Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Evo (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

There were podiums in race one at Oulton (when Gounon put in the drive of the season to charge from sixth to within sight of victory), the first visit to Donington, and Spa. Joined by both Gounon and Callum Macleod over the season, Loggie’s focus centred not only on consistency, but also becoming the best Am driver possible. “They’ve been working with me on brake heating, safety cars, just a whole load of things that the Pros know but Ams never get taught,” he says.

Effectively having the mindset of a Pro arguably prevented his retirement on the opening lap at the Donington decider, when he was forced into the Redgate gravel by a crash ahead. Told by Gounon that he should switch the traction control off if he ever went through the gravel to not get bogged down, in Loggie’s words his time in the car has meant such tricks have become “like second nature”.

"I’m like a Jack Russell Terrier and I was going to win this one way or the other” Ian Loggie

Generally staying out of trouble put Loggie on course for the title but, like any championship tilt, there were low moments. He was eliminated on the opening lap at Silverstone when he was the innocent victim in a collision between fellow Mercedes racers Richard Neary and James Cottingham. And at Brands Hatch, Loggie suffered damage after a collision with title rival Adam Balon’s Lamborghini in the opening stint, which limited the car to a sixth-place finish in the hands of Macleod.

These moments allowed Balon and team-mate Sandy Mitchell to challenge for the crown, the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Evo crew hitting their stride in the second half of the season with podiums at Snetterton, Spa and Brands Hatch.

They scored maximum points at the three-hour Silverstone event with victory, after Mitchell’s qualifying time had been a staggering 0.693s faster than his nearest Pro rival. But collisions at Oulton, where Mitchell was handed a penalty for contact with Marcus Clutton, and a retirement after Mitchell was tagged by Scott Malvern exiting the pits at Donington, meant they always faced an uphill challenge.

Clutton and Tillbrook took two wins aboard their Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720S (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

Mitchell and Balon weren’t the only crew to enter the season finale with a shot at usurping Loggie. Clutton and Morgan Tillbrook (Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3) and Lewis Williamson and James Cottingham (2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes) also had an outside chance of glory at Donington.

Two wins went the way of Clutton and Tillbrook, in the opening Donington meeting where they took pole, and at Brands Hatch when they benefited as the race-leading Abba Racing Mercedes of Sam Neary suffered fuel pump problems two laps from home.

But a charge at the title was thwarted by a mix of bad luck and errors. Tillbrook missed the pitbox in the opening Oulton Park race when in with a shot of victory, while a mechanical issue ruled them out of the sequel and at Silverstone. Clutton took to the grass at the start of Snetterton race two, and Tillbrook was knocked into a spin at Spa, which all had an impact.

While there was no win for Williamson and Cottingham, two runner-up finishes over the course of the season put them within touching distance. A puncture for Williamson in the second Snetterton race thwarted a realistic chance of victory, while an unforced mistake from Cottingham at the Old Hairpin put them out of contention in the Donington finale.

Other crews to record wins included Adam Carroll/Shaun Balfe (Balfe Motorsport Audi R8) in the opening race after Carroll had put up an incredible defence against Gounon over the final 15 minutes, the second RAM Racing Mercedes in the hands of Ulysse De Pauw/John Ferguson at Snetterton, and Jamie Stanley/Nick Halstead (Fox Motorsport McLaren) at Spa after successfully appealing a technical infringement violation. And the returning Alexander Sims and GT3 debutant Darren Leung took the top step of the podium at the final round aboard a Century Motorsport BMW M4.

Yet the consistency and determination of Loggie meant he secured a title he had sought since 2017: “When I get something in my mind I never give up. I’m like a Jack Russell Terrier and I was going to win this one way or the other.”

GT4: Steller season for Fielding and Williams

The Steller Motorsport pairing of Fielding and Williams had to fight for the GT4 title (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

A points deficit, success penalty and positions to be gained created an uphill challenge for the Steller Motorsport pairing of Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams at the Donington Park finale.

But a constant battle to the end was a fitting way for the duo to take the British GT4 title, the pairing having generally been the class of the field in their Audi R8 LMS. But “lots of little things”, according to Fielding, meant they trailed the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner and Matt Topham on points heading into the final round.

“I feel like we’ve been so fast all year and then we’ve just had some slight misfortune throughout which has been really frustrating,” adds Fielding. “I feel like we’ve had a slight advantage on outright pace. We’ve always been up front; the car’s been unbelievable.”

They did things the hard way from the outset, with victory in the opening round at Oulton Park coming after a Fielding fightback, which became something of a theme during the season. Williams led after briefly dropping to second, but a short mandatory pitstop meant the car had to serve a penalty before Fielding hunted down Ross Wylie for the win.

They doubled up in the sequel, in which Fielding got the jump on polesitter Turner at the start before the crew were helped when a red flag annulled their pitstop success penalty, but only after a successful appeal to the UK National Court.

Turner and Topham took victory at Silverstone in their Newbridge Motorsport-run Aston Martin Vantage (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

Although there were a further four podiums over the season, incredibly there were no more wins since at each meeting the duo had to overcome a setback. They were never able to negate the pitstop disadvantage of being an all-Silver pairing at Silverstone and finished third, while the Pro-Am pairing of Turner and Topham won after serving 14s less at all three stops.

It was the same situation at Brands Hatch, where safety cars meant Williams was unable to build a big enough gap for Fielding to rejoin in the lead and he followed Turner home. There were also low points in the middle of the season – they finished eighth on the first visit to Donington after Williams spun from the lead in the opening laps, while there was a non-score in the second Snetterton race due to a post-race penalty after they were caught speeding in the pitlane.

"I was quite proud of that move, and to pull it off on him made it a little bit more rewarding” Sennan Fielding

Victory looked assured at Spa but, with Fielding on the cusp of taking the lead, the team was again hit with a penalty for a short pitstop. After dropping down the order, he charged back through to overtake both Tom Edgar and Turner on the final lap to finish fourth.

It was another scintillating performance from Fielding, who had shown similar brilliance a month earlier in the opening race at Snetterton. The Steller Audi suffered a gearbox problem shortly before the start, meaning Williams started from the pits and made steady progress before relaying to Fielding. He rejoined ninth and moved up to third on the road – which became second post-race – culminating in an incredible pass on Turner into Riches, which included using the pit exit and making door-to-door contact.

“He’s a person I’ve looked up to for years and to be racing against him, I’ve got so much respect for him, but when you’re out on track everyone is the same,” enthuses Fielding. “I’ll always race fair and after we came together, we shook hands. So yeah, it was a good moment – to be fair I was quite proud of that move, and to pull it off on him made it a little bit more rewarding.”

Day and Miller impressed during their maiden season in British GT with R Racing (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

Turner and Topham made good on their potential from last year, with the Am putting in a good defensive drive in the second Oulton race to finish runner-up before the wins at Silverstone and Brands Hatch, as well as podiums in both Snetterton outings.

Scoring points in every race put the Aston pair in the pound seat for the Donington finale, 12.5 points ahead, but they never featured in the two-hour race. Topham struggled to keep pace during the opening stint while also picking up a safety car infringement penalty, meaning Turner rejoined well down the order. While the three-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner failed to make progress – he finished seventh – it was the opposite for Fielding, who took over from Williams in fourth and once again needed to make up places.

“We knew we had to push 100%, every lap was a qualifying lap,” says Fielding of his final Donington stint, where he passed Moh Ritson and Jamie Day to finish second and claim the title. “I thought whoever is in front of me I’m going to get past by hook or by crook and thankfully we did that. I’m chuffed to bits to win this championship with this team. They deserve it more than anyone.”

Arguably the surprise of the season was Day and fellow British GT rookie and R Racing Vantage team-mate Josh Miller. The pair secured two wins, the first at Snetterton making them the youngest winners in the championship on combined age after on-the-road victors Jamie Orton/Seb Hopkins (Team Parker Porsche 718 Cayman) were penalised for a collision. A further victory followed at Spa, and they too headed to the final round with an outside shot of the title, but third was not quite enough.

Matt Cowley and British GT newbie Marco Signoretti took the top step with the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang on the first visit to Donington, but lacked the consistency to mount a title tilt. Signoretti was also taken out from the lead at Snetterton by Hopkins. Reigning GT4 champion Will Burns and Century Motorsport BMW M4 team-mate Jack Brown finished in the points at every race but took only three podiums, Brown overtaking Topham for their sole win at the second Snetterton race.

Edgar and Jordan Collard finally delivered on flashes of speed with Toyota Gazoo, guiding their GR Supra to victory at the final race, with not even Fielding able to close the gap.

Collard and Edgar were unstoppable in the final round at the wheel of their Toyota GR Supra (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

Top 5 GT3 drivers

5. Jules Gounon
Laid the foundation for Loggie’s title success with performance of the season in first Oulton Park race despite just missing out on victory – which was achieved in the sequel. Did what was required at Spa and Donington finale, but can’t be placed higher as only competed in four races.

4. James Cottingham
Unlucky not to win a race but edges out Morgan Tillbrook here after outscoring him in qualifying and leading on merit at Donington I, Spa and Brands Hatch – the first after passing polesitter Tillbrook around the outside at the start. Off-track moment at Donington II ended title hopes after another mega start.

3. Marcus Clutton
Generally went under the radar but was a safe pair of hands and got the job done at Donington I – after taking Pro pole – and Brands having pressured Neary throughout. Passed Mitchell to secure podium at Donington II, with excursion at start of Snetterton II only real error of note.

2. Ian Loggie
Finally secured long-coveted GT3 title through consistency and generally staying out of trouble. Drove well to win Oulton Park II and first Snetterton race after taking pole. Contact with Balon at Brands Hatch and harmless spin in Donington finale only blemishes for a worthy champion.

1. Sandy Mitchell
Stunning Silverstone qualifying lap set him and team-mate Balon on course for the win, with further Pro pole coming at Spa. Neat pass on Macleod gave Balon chance of Snetterton II victory, while consistently strong race pace brought title within reach. Low point was silly collision exiting pits at Donington Park I.

Mitchell's pole lap at Silverstone was seven-tenths quicker than the nearest Pro (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)

Top 5 GT4 drivers

5. Matt Cowley
Edges Will Burns to final spot. Was instrumental in Donington I victory, resisting pressure from Turner, but also had bigger picture in mind. Led impressively at Snetterton I during opening stint and passed Topham for second in final minutes of sequel. Lack of consistency and bad luck hampered any chance of a title challenge.

4. Jordan Collard
Up to speed quickly despite missing opening round, but strong Silverstone start was undone by a puncture. Brilliantly climbed from sixth to lead convincingly at Spa despite nursing a vibration. Overtook Miller for Donington I podium, and victory on return for season finale was fully deserved alongside Edgar.

3. Darren Turner
A solid if unspectacular performer all season, Turner used vast experience to good effect. Ensured victory at Silverstone and managed gap to Fielding at Brands for another win. Struggled to overcome Aston speed deficit at Spa, and couldn’t make up lost ground at Donington II with title on the line.

2. Jamie Day
Brilliant maiden season for the 17-year-old, which culminated in two wins at Snetterton I and Spa, as well as two further podiums. Made fewer mistakes than team-mate Miller and was generally the faster of the two in races, which included impressive passes for the lead at Spa and Brands.

1. Sennan Fielding
Never qualifying outside the top three all season was a testament to his speed and consistency. Displayed fantastic racecraft following several setbacks, the culmination being his hard, but fair, overtake on Turner in the first Snetterton race. Earned the title at Donington finale with more on-track overtaking moves.

Fielding made a number of incredible overtakes during the course of the season (Photo by: Jakob Ebrey)
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