RAM Racing was the dominant force across British GT’s Snetterton round as each of its Mercedes-AMG GT3s took a victory across the two one-hour contests. A win in the opening race before damage limitation in the sequel meant championship leader Ian Loggie extended his advantage at the top of the table to 32.5 points.
The Mercedes proved to be the machine of choice around the three-mile 300 layout. The German manufacturer occupied the front row for both races, which resulted in the cars being handed a Balance of Performance tweak ahead of the races – an extra 15kg and a small reduction in power.
Despite this, Loggie was never headed in his opening stint from pole in race one, gradually pulling away from the returning Flick Haigh, who was sharing a 2Seas Motorsport Mercedes once again with Jonny Adam although not eligible for championship points.
Behind the leading pair, Mark Sansom’s Bentley Continental had moved into third from sixth off the start with an audacious move up the inside at Riches but, on lap eight, he spun away any chance of a podium at Williams, co-driver Will Tregurtha eventually bringing the Assetto Motorsport machine home 13th.
By the time the GT3 pit window opened after 22 minutes, Loggie’s lead stood at 3.2 seconds, not enough to negate the 5s success penalty the car had to serve for its third-place finish at Donington Park. It meant Adam rejoined ahead of Callum Macleod but, from the second lap of his stint, telemetry showed that the 2Seas Mercedes’ left-rear was slowly losing air and with just seven minutes left it failed completely.
Now in the lead, Macleod came under late pressure from the Lamborghini Huracan Evo of Phil Keen, the WPI Motorsport machine having risen from sixth during the pitstop sequence, and just 0.5s separated the two cars at the flag. The Mercedes of Richard and Sam Neary completed the podium after also benefiting through the pitstop phase, heading home a train of four cars. That included the James Cottingham/Lewis Williamson Mercedes and McLaren 720S of Morgan Tillbrook/Marcus Clutton, which had to serve success penalties of 7s and 10s respectively, while Adam Balon/Sandy Mitchell (Barwell Lamborghini) completed the top six.
“The 2Seas car was quick, but it just goes to show you can be quick and it doesn’t come to you,” said Loggie. “Every round we’re just doing a solid job and not throwing it off.”
With a 10s success penalty to serve in the day’s second race, Loggie had to focus on his championship ambitions and RAM’s chances of outright victory fell to the team’s other machine. In his second weekend of British GT, Ulysse de Pauw put the Mercedes he shared with John Ferguson on pole, with Williamson also on the front row. From the outset, the duo began to edge away from Macleod, who took to the inside kerb at Riches in avoidance from third at the start. When Williamson brought the 2Seas Mercedes in with a right-rear puncture on lap four, de Pauw was left to circulate alone.
Macleod soon began to struggle with tyre wear, and Mitchell and Euan Hankey (McLaren 720S) pressured him. The decisive move of the race came on lap seven when Mitchell went around the outside of Macleod at Wilson before taking the inside line into Turn 3. The gap to de Pauw now stood at 6.3s but, by the time both Pros came in to relay to their Am co-drivers just past the halfway point, the gap was less than 3s.
Balon chased Ferguson over the remaining laps, and was within striking distance for the final 10 minutes, but the Irishman held firm to take his and de Pauw’s maiden British GT win. “The last four or five laps were difficult as we were coming up to lap GT4 cars,” said Ferguson. “It was just a matter of staying out of trouble.”
Meanwhile, Loggie had taken over from Macleod and rejoined sixth, falling behind Mia Flewitt (in for Hankey), Haigh and Lewis Proctor, who had taken over the Greystone McLaren from father Stewart.
Keen’s co-driver Michael Igoe began to pressure Loggie but fell out of contention when he served a 10s stop/go penalty for an unsafe release in the pits, but the driver on the move was Enduro Motorsport’s Tillbrook. After passing Loggie on the inside of Agostini, he attempted the same on Proctor a lap later, with Proctor spinning on the exit and nearly collecting Loggie. Flewitt, who had already been passed by Haigh, was next, but the pair collided at Williams, which spun the 7TSIX McLaren.
In the melee, Alex Malykhin, sharing the Redline Racing Lamborghini with James Dorlin, moved into fourth past Loggie and Tillbrook (who avoided a post-race penalty), who finished sixth and fifth respectively.
Snetterton MSVR: Browning battles Granfors for GB3 top spot
Luke Browning moved himself back to the top of the GB3 Championship standings by getting the better of chief title rival Joel Granfors across three races at Snetterton.
The Hitech GP driver arrived at the Norfolk circuit one point behind Granfors, and had not stood on the top step of the podium since the opening Oulton Park round in April. That changed in the weekend’s second race on Sunday, but he was made to work hard for it by Fortec Motorsport ace Granfors throughout a tense 12-lap encounter. From pole, Browning held the lead into Riches, while Granfors looked to the outside before slotting into second and Carlin’s Javier Sagrera made a stunning start to move from sixth into third.
Heading onto the second lap, Granfors forced Browning to defend to the inside at both Riches and the Wilson hairpin, but was unable to find an opening. The Swede tried again in the same spots on laps five and eight, with the final attempt resulting in the slightest of contacts down the Senna Straight, which damaged the right endplate of Granfors’s front wing.
Unaffected by the contact, Granfors continued to apply pressure and it almost paid dividends when Browning slid wide through Brundle on the penultimate lap and had to go defensive out of Nelson, but he held on to win by just 0.235 seconds. “Races like that make a big difference come the end of the season,” said Browning. Granfors added: “It was very close, I think we had a bit more pace. I was just trying to keep him stressed and he did a couple of mistakes.”
Sagrera claimed third for his first podium of the year having defended race-long from the JHR Developments car of Matthew Rees, while Tom Lebbon and Alex Connor completed the top six. Callum Voisin had occupied fifth, but he ran wide at Riches on lap six, sending him spinning into the barriers on the inside.
Carlin-run Ginetta Junior graduate Voisin had enjoyed better fortune in Saturday’s opener when he recorded his second win in GB3. From pole he got the jump on fellow front-row starter Granfors, who dropped behind Browning. While unable to stretch away by more than a few tenths, Voisin was never threatened by Browning, with Granfors offering more of a challenge for position. Carlin’s Roberto Faria finished fourth, with Lebbon holding off Elite Motorsport team-mate John Bennett for fifth.
In the reversed-grid race, Mikkel Grundtvig won from the front after keeping Marcos Flack and James Hedley at bay in the closing stages. Browning progressed from 20th to 14th, with Granfors finishing right on his rival’s tail once more, meaning he is 11 points behind Browning at the halfway stage of the season.
Croft BARC: British F4 pattern turned on its head
The familiar pattern to 2022 British Formula 4 weekends was turned on its head at Croft. Instead of series dominator Alex Dunne driving into the distance in the opener, it was birthday boy Aiden Neate who led throughout and Dunne’s taste of glory came in the partially reversed-grid second contest.
Dunne only qualified ninth for the opener having suffered with a down-on-power engine. And Neate therefore maximised the opportunity offered by his first series pole to take a win, keeping Ugo Ugochukwu at arm’s length. “I’m really happy – that pole was a long time coming!” said Argenti driver Neate. “I got my first podium here last year and it was a great birthday present [to win]!”
The processional race was enlivened on the final lap by two unrelated near-misses. Louis Sharp attempted to dive up the inside of Carlin team-mate Oliver Gray at the hairpin but the Kiwi’s move just failed, while a procession of oystercatcher chicks was also narrowly avoided after venturing onto the track.
Having finished seventh, Hitech was permitted to change Dunne’s engine for race two, just doing so in time. And Dunne made the most of his renewed power to take a comfortable win – although he was aided by polesitter Georgi Dimitrov stalling, giving Dunne a clear run into Clervaux.
Behind, it was chaos, with various drivers in strife – including a clumsy hairpin move from Ugochukwu that broke his front wing. Oliver Stewart was impressively keeping Joseph Loake at bay in second until slowing with three laps to go, promoting Gray and Neate to third and fourth.
Neate hoped his earlier win was “a turning point in the championship” but his second pole came to nothing in the finale when he jumped the start, meaning Gray was the net leader when red flags flew after a heavy crash at Tower for Joel Pearson.
Stewart grabbed the lead on the restart and Gray then slipped to third when a failed attempt at Clervaux led to him taking to the gravel. But Gray was not to be beaten, making a bold move around the outside of Sharp at Tower and then passing Stewart through the Jim Clark Esses to reclaim the lead. “It was an all or nothing move,” he confessed.
Behind, Dunne had impressively risen to third from 10th, limiting the erosion of his points advantage from 68 to 51 heading into the summer break.
Nelson King has ruled the Mini Challenge Trophy waves so far this season and, although he took his 2022 tally to an incredible seven wins from eight races at Croft last weekend, he had to work hard for his latest successes.
On the surface, it appears that the Graves Motorsport driver led the opener from start to finish, but that only tells part of the story. His team-mate Nicky Taylor was right on King’s tail in the early stages and came close to grabbing the lead at Tower before a safety-car period was needed after Alfie Glenie went off at the Esses.
It was during this caution period when King suffered an ABS failure and knew that holding on for the win would be tricky, admitting he would have been happy with a top-five result.
But he did a little better than that, helped by Taylor’s latest Tower attempt proving unsuccessful and instead allowing Tom Ovenden to sneak ahead through the Esses. While Taylor dropped back to an eventual fifth, behind Joe Wiggin and Matt Hammond, Ovenden had King in his sights. He got a brilliant run out of the final corner, just missing out from taking the spoils by 0.015 seconds on the drag to the line. “It was a tough race – I’ve never had to work as hard for a win,” admitted King, who said managing the lack of ABS when under so much pressure from behind made this one of his best victories.
King followed that with one of his best opening laps when he surged from fourth into the lead in race two. He had noted where the British Touring Car racers had laid down rubber braking into Tower and used that to perfection to get a great drive out of the corner and emerge from running three-abreast with Ovenden and Wiggin to take second.
He then went storming down the inside of Hammond at the hairpin to grab a lead he never looked like relinquishing. “It was fifty-fifty but I wanted to win!” said King of the decisive pass. “I made the move and Matt gave me room.”
Former Junior Rallycross ace Ovenden completed a strong weekend with another second place for the Excelr8 driver, while Taylor was third this time around as Hammond fell back after being deprived of second at the hairpin.
Reports by Stefan Mackley and Stephen Lickorish. Photography by Jakob Ebrey Photography/Motorsport Images. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine