Feature – Car by Car: Donington Park 2

posted in: Features, News | 0
Credit: Jo Kemp

The most recent outing was a trip back to Donington Park for the third race there this season; this time a three hour endurance race which provided no end of excitement! Working with the British GT Fans group, who have kindly submitted photos, we’re bringing you our breakdown of the weekend in reverse class drivers championship order.

GT3 – 6th Winner in 6 Races

14th: #36 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 Stewart Proctor & Joe Osbourne

Credit: Alex Luke

There isn’t a lot we can say about this effort as it didn’t feature a lot on the coverage. Running towards the back of the GT3 field, the Balfe Motorsport McLaren did much as we have come to expect. Stewart Proctor continued to gain experience with the car, his recently announced run in the Gulf 12 Hours in January will help even more with that, while Joe Osbourne showed exactly what the car can do with a top flight factory driver at the wheel. 

Unfortunately, given that qualifying was an aggregate of both drivers’ times, the car didn’t start massively far up the order, just ahead of the one-off entry from Ultimate Speed. It meant that Proctor was unlikely to make significant progress in his stints, which left Osbourne with a serious mountain to climb. 

11th overall and 5th in the Pro/Am class was about the best Balfe Motorsport could hope for in GT3.

12th: #9 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 – Dean MacDonald & Angus Fender

Credit: Emily Tennison

Not a shining example of how to go racing. Thats nothing against the drivers but the team dropped the ball big style at Donington Park. A blowout at Old Hairpin is just one of those things but once Dean MacDonald recovered the limping McLaren to the pits, the team just bolted on a new Pirelli tyre and sent the car again, without checking. 

Had they checked they would have noticed they were sending a car with collapsed suspension back out onto the race track. That’s unforgivable; it puts their driver at risk, it puts other drivers at risk, and it is not on at all.

Annoyingly for the team though, it was one of their better weekends aside from the glaring gaffe with the suspension. There is hope for the future but particularly the crew on the #9 car need to learn what my grandad used to tell me:

Less haste; more speed.

11th: #30 Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO – Richard Williams & Sennan Fielding

Credit: Alex Luke

Inside the top ten in qualifying was a good start to the weekend for Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding in the only Audi on the grid. The team is still new to the car and gaining experience with every lap turned. Two places forward during the race may not seem like a great amount of progress but we are dealing here with a driver line up which was Pro/Am in GT4 only 12 months ago and now fights in a very competitive GT3 Silver Cup class.

It’s clear there is pace in the car as Sennan Fielding’s fastest lap was only seven tenths off the outright fastest lap of the race.

The result could have been better though if the team hadn’t misjudged the pit lane timings. A 16 second short stop left the car back in the pit lane for a 16 second stop and go. A mistake the team will be rueing as it could have seen them running as high as 4th at the line if they hadn’t served the penalty.

10th: #66 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 – Nick Jones & Scott Malvern

Credit: Leigh Jones

A non scoring round for the Team Parker Racing crew, not the fault of either Nick Jones or Scott Malvern who both did what they could to deliver a strong result on a dry Donington Park circuit. 

12th in qualifying, 5th in Pro/Am, wouldn’t initially seem to be a strong showing from the car which claimed victory at the same venue in August. The win however was borne of strategy, whilst qualifying is outright pace and both drivers are still relatively new to the big beast of Crewe.

We also have to consider the race, which saw the Bentley in the pits early on. In fact the team only managed 55 laps in the entire race and didn’t classify. The problem finally traced to an electrical gremlin which was affecting power. It’s hard to believe that the problem happened overnight, while the car was in Parc Ferme, so it probably affected their qualifying pace too. 

9th: #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Richard Neary & Sam Neary

Credit: Alex Luke

There are two ways to go motor-racing; get your brains trust together ahead of time, make a plan and stick to it, or go with the flow, respond and react. While the front two cars took the latter option and a significant gamble to make it pay off in the case of the Barwell machine, Team ABBA Racing made their plan and stuck to it like glue. 

It’s a hard call either way, sometimes reacting gets you ahead of the circumstances, sometimes it leads to mistakes.

A clean race with Sam Neary, the faster of the father/son pairing, doing 95 of his 100 permitted minutes and taking the fight to Mercedes-AMG factory driver Yelmer Buurman. Richard did what he usually does, took his time in the car, kept it out of trouble and delivered it to his Pro with a chance.

7th: #96 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 – Lewis Proctor & Ollie WIlkinson

Credit: Emily Tennison

A full length battle for supremacy is a great way to go racing. Unfortunately for Lewis Proctor and Ollie Wilkinson, that battle for supremacy was with Jenson Team Rocket RJN and 2 Seas Motorsport. No car advantage available when you are all running McLaren. 

In that battle it’s all about execution, and Optimum executed to perfection. Three stops were made and they were equal in length to the 100th of a second!

The only blot on their race may not have even existed, as an announcement made during the race that they had received a penalty was swiftly retracted.

=6th: #10 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 – Jack Mitchell & Jordan Witt

Credit: Jacob Ebrey – BritishGT.com

A performance overshadowed by their team-mates but not in the usual way. The problems with the #9 car put 2 Seas firmly at the front of the mind, especially as the Fender/MacDonald machine was actually running better at the time of its problems than the Jack Mitchell and Jordan Witt machine.

That being said, given the 2 Seas vulnerability to the cartoon mallet of disruption, the #10 had a stonking race. Trouble free for the most part and locked in a battle for supremacy with Optimum Motorsport and Jenson Team Rocket RJN, the #10 didn’t look or behave out of place in such esteemed McLaren company. 

Hopefully Donington II is a sign of things to come for 2 Seas Motorsport; and hopefully it will spread so that the #9 car can taste some success too. 

Rewatching the footage you can see the #10 was a tad overenthusiastic at the start of the race. They got away with it, but the WPI Motorsport Lamborghini ended up in the gravel at Redgate. 

=6th: #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Ian Loggie & Yelmer Buurman

Credit: Adam Wilson

Again the Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman car were overshadowed by their much pinker, slightly faster team mates in the #69. A spin early on, mated to a drive through penalty for track limits did much of the damage to their efforts to take a victory at Donington Park. Yelmer Buurman is obviously the faster of the two but spent much of the race mired in traffic and unable to make full benefit of the punch of the biggest engine in British GT.

The fact that he was being hassled in places by Sam Neary in the older Mercedes-AMG is just further proof that the #6 car was having a bad day. That the team mates had a worse start and a much better result is just salt heading straight at the wound.

5th: #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO – Michael Igoe

Credit: Jonathan Tuckwell

Firstly, Michael Igoe sits alone in fifth as he has been joined by a different co-driver every weekend so far this season. This time out it was Marco Mapelli, yet another from the Lamborghini Squadra Corse stable of factory pros.

Secondly, Michael Igoe is a quick peddler, but you are on a hiding to nothing when you end the first corner buried up to the axles in the first corner gravel trap.

The magnificent team in orange got the Huracan out of the gravel fairly quickly but needed a JCB to get the job done. It put the car a lap down and as we found out at Brands Hatch with Jonny Adam, once you are a lap down, it’s all over but the shouting.

Most impressively they managed to drag the Lamborghini into the points, taking tenth place in class and at the lead of the 1 lap down crew in GT3. A penalty at their final stop just put paid to any hope they had of reclaiming the lead lap.

4th: #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3 – James Baldwin & Michael O’Brien

Credit: Jessie Wynne

As is the rapidly developing pattern now, James Baldwin planted his right foot from the start and shot off like the proverbial robbers dog. He did an hour at the wheel, building a strong advantage before handing over to Michael O’Brien. O’Brien was left to look slow by comparison, not because of any lack of pace but because he was saddled with tyres that Worlds Fastest Gamer Baldwin had already rung all the life out of.

It was probably the lack of tyre performance which caused the contact with a tyre bundle at the chicane. That contact didn’t do any damage to the McLaren though and when Baldwin got back aboard after a short stint for O’Brien the car’s strong pace returned. It stayed too when RJN gave O’Brien the tools he needed to do the job, i.e. a new set of boots, but by then the bottom step of the podium was all he could hope for after a long battle with the #10 2 Seas Motorsport and #96 Optimum Motorsport entries in equal machinery.

3rd: #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO – Adam Balon & Phil Keen

Credit: Jessie Wynne

Second place at Donington Park puts the Adam Balon and Phil Keen machine just 16.5 points behind the championship leader. Finally, Keen leaves Donington Park closer to the championship than when he arrived!

The result was mainly down to an inspired strategy call which saw Adam Balon in to the pits and Phil Keen installed behind the wheel at the end of lap 1 while the track was under safety car. It was a unique move in GT3, though both TF Sport GT4 cars had similar brainwaves and made their first stops early too. 

It put top class factory pro against Silvers and Ams, allowing Keen to make serious headway before handing over to his own Am, Adam Balon. Of course Balon himself isn’t exactly a slouch so the hour and twenty minutes he had to do by regulation wasn’t going to massively affect the car’s chances. It was Keen who set the absolute pace, claiming the fastest lap on the fifth tour of the circuit. 

It was a strong result which gives the Balon and Keen effort the best chance of a title come Silverstone.

2nd: #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO – Rob Collard & Sandy Mitchell

Credit: Phil Clayton

Sixth place perhaps shows that the #72 car’s strategy was the better one. Of course Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell are both Silver Cup drivers while the #72 crew are Pro/Am so there is less of a qualitative difference between the faster of the two and the rest of the field. 

An uneventful race to the flag was punctuated, (pun intended) only by a slow puncture which saw Mitchell’s second stint reduced to just 15 minutes. The result keeps the Silver Cup car ahead of the Pro/Am offering from Barwell in the championship table by 8.5 points and gives them no success penalty headed to Snetterton, so the #78 crew have to be in the pound seats when it comes to delivering a drivers championship to Barwell. 

1st: #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Sam de Haan & Patrick Kujala

Credit: Jonathan Tuckwell

Facing backwards at Redgate on lap one in the largest GT3 class of the year would put paid to almost any car’s race plans. So it was for Sam de Haan as the race timer ticked through the first 20 seconds of the race; but no-one told him! Cue 180 minutes of determined recovery drive which led to being on the back of the GT3 pack by the start of the third lap and the lead by the end. 

A determined and, dare we say it, a Champion’s drive from the penultimate spot on the timing screens to the top of the order has a strong chance of being seen as THE turning point in the championship battle for 2020.


GT4 – HHC Motorsport Gain Victory Spoils

10th #33 Century Motorsport/Team Tegiwa BMW M4 GT4 – David Whitmore & Luke Sedzikowski 

Credit: Tom Whitmore – T18 Photography

The Century run Team Tegiwa BMW of Luke Sedzikowski and David Whitmore didn’t have the greatest of rounds at Donington. At one point we caught a glimpse of them being wheeled into the rear entrance of the pits where the assumption is that they had run out of fuel. They reappeared soon after however, where they managed to eke their run out to get the all important finish for this car’s third outing in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, taking the Am/Am win in the process. 

They also took away 6 points leaving them in 10th position in the Driver’s Championship with 18 points from their three entered races.

8th #43 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 – Adam Hatfield & Ben Hurst

Credit: Emma Coverdale

This was another disappointing round for the #43 BMW, which is another car this year which has a shared driver roster; this time we had Adam Hatfield and Ben Hurst on driving duties. A non scoring round this time, as the car only managed a total of 68 laps; 49 laps behind the race winner. 

The garage did their best to get the car back out on the track after it came in struggling with a brake issue, but unfortunately even though it made it back out on track it had fallen so far behind that it wasn’t classified. 

6th #23 Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra GT4 – Sam Smelt & James Kell

Credit: Alex Luke

The #23 Speedworks Toyota Supra GR GT4 had a very turbulent weekend. An issue with a cracked brake disc meant that Sam Smelt was unable to set his time at qualifying. As the starting line up is determined by the combined times in qualifying this left them at the back of the grid. 

The pair wasted no time in making up for this though, working their way through the GT4 field where they were even worrying the front of the pack at times.

A 30s time penalty was given to the team in lieu of a stop/go penalty, which meant a rather disappointing 6th place finish, rather than a rewarding 4th place finish for them. This leaves them currently on 76.5 points

5th #21 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 – Mia Flewitt & Euan Hankey 

Credit: Daniel Kerr

5th place overall in GT4 was the result of a drive where everything went as it should for Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey in the blue and orange Balfemobile. 

This race saw them with some welcomed competition in the Pro/Am class in the form of a round-by-round entry from the #22 Balfe McLaren driven by Jan Klingelnberg and former GT4 British GT Champion Warren Hughes. No slouching from them either, as both Hughes and Klingelnburg showed they had some decent pace through portions of the race. 

Flewitt and Hankey however both had their heads down, giving a solid performance throughout, finishing a lap ahead of their class competition taking away 15 points from this race, leaving them on 79 a piece in total and 5th in the overall drivers championship on 79 points

4th #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 – Chris Wesemael & Gus Bowers

Credit: Jacob Ebrey Photography – britishgt.com

This HHC McLaren didn’t have quite so smooth and shining a race as it’s sister car.

Problems at the end of qualifying meant a full engine change was needed, and all credit to the team here who worked tirelessly well into the night to ensure the car was fully prepared for the 3 hour endurance race ahead.

During the race itself, the car was decidedly wide at a number of corners, no doubt contributing to the multiple penalties they received for track limits. All in all, this led to a disappointing 8th place finish in overall GT4, and bottom of their class. They must do better if they want to keep their chance of the championships alive, as whilst they sit only 8.5 points off the top of the table, there are eight drivers above them just as hungry for it.

3rd #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 – Patrik Matthiesen & Jordan Collard

Credit: Daniel Kerr

HHC have been at the forefront of the battle for the top of the championship in the races throughout the season so far, and this week saw it come together for the first outright win for the #58 of Patrik Matthiesen and Jordan Collard

A really solid race from this car, with very little going wrong in the execution of their race making their win all the sweeter, leaving both drivers sitting just 2.5 points shy of the leaders. If they want the top spot though, then they will need to ensure the last races end in much the same way as they face stiff competition.

2nd #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 – Matt Cowley & Jordan Albert. 

Credit: Paul Vallance

A second place finish for the Ford Mustang of Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert is even more impressive when you consider that not only do they have some stiff competition throughout the GT4 ranks, but that they also achieved this in addition to serving full success seconds after their win at the previous outing to Brands Hatch. 

In fact, they were under a second off the race lead, which just goes to show the calibre of driving we’ve seen from the Academy Motorsport drivers recently. A well executed strategy from these guys and some top class driving gives them a well deserved second place finish and absolutely still in it for the title, just 1.5 points behind the four way tie for first place on 98.5 points each.

1st= #95 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 – Connor O’Brien & Patrick Kibble

Credit: Daniel Forder

There’s been very little to separate both TF Sport entries this year, with both cars vying for the top spot on the championships, the podiums, and at times the same space on the track! The #95 car has tasted the top of the podium this year with a win during their earlier trip to Donington Park, but had to make do with 3rd place this time round. 

Patrick Kibble set the fastest GT4 lap of the race on lap 99 showing that even though they weren’t top of the podium this time, they were still giving it hell for leather!

1st= #97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 – Daniel Vaughan & Jamie Caroline

Credit: Lynden Edwards

A 4th place finish for the #97 Aston Martin just goes to show that it isn’t necessarily about winning the race as much as it is about being consistent. This is evidenced by the #97 who has yet to win a race, but is currently sitting pretty at the top of the leaderboard in spite of this, along with its sister car the #95, who has won a race, but also has been less consistent.

Both TF Sport cars opted for a different strategy to the rest of the GT4 field, taking advantage of the early safety car to make very early stops within the first few minutes for driver changes, with a long second stint ahead. Both Vaughan and Caroline currently sit tied at the top of the Driver’s Championship with their TF Sport teammates at 100 points exactly.

Sara hails from the North of England and is the owner of Stormvixen Creative Media Consultancy, which provides Virtual Administration, Creative Media Services, specialising in Podcast and Social Media Management and Copywriting. Having written for a number of publications, she's now moving into Sports Journalism.

Nick Smith is a time served motorsport journalist and photographer specialising in the British GT Championship. The originator of the idea behind the British GT Fans Show, Nick works to bring all the parties together.

Outside of motor racing Nick is a articulated lorry driver, qualified transport manager, and brass musician.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *