British GT3 - Barwell's Balon and Keen double up at Snetterton

British GT3 - Barwell's Balon and Keen double up at Snetterton

19.05.2019: British GT’s Pitstop Success Penalties ensure back-to-back victories are a rare occurrence. Barwell were the last to achieve it at Oulton Park in 2017 and overcame a similar 10s handicap in Race 2 thanks to a

British GT’s Pitstop Success Penalties ensure back-to-back victories are a rare occurrence. Barwell were the last to achieve it at Oulton Park in 2017 and overcame a similar 10s handicap in Race 2 thanks to a true team performance.

Phil Keen qualified just 0.055s behind pole-sitter Nicki Thiim, and the pair were once again the class of a stacked Pro field during the opening stint. Rarely more than a second apart, TF Sport’s Aston Martin and the #72 Lamborghini pitted nose-to-tail as the 10-minute pit window ticked towards its conclusion.

Thiim’s co-driver Mark Farmer inherited a 10s advantage as a result of Barwell’s Success Penalty, but some rapid pre-driver change laps allied to Jonny Cocker’s earlier stop helped Balon emerge just ahead of team-mate Sam De Haan.

The two Lamborghinis then worked in tandem to bridge Farmer’s advantage, the intermittent light drizzle seemingly favouring both Huracans, and it wasn’t long before both had caught and passed the Aston Martin.

Balon and De Haan continued to track each other thereafter as the gap between them opened and closed through the traffic. The latter was never quite in position to challenge, though, and took the chequered flag just 0.5s shy of victory.

Behind, Balfe Motorsport made amends for the contact that ended its Race 1 hopes by completing the podium. Rob Bell ran fifth during the opening stint as part of a four-car train that also featured Century’s Ben Green, Team ABBA’s Adam Christodoulou, TF Sport’s Jonny Adam and Optimum’s Bradley Ellis. His co-driver Shaun Balfe emerged in the same position before hunting down Farmer over the closing stages having benefitted from JRM’s Bentley sliding off while sizing up the Aston.

Thus TF Sport’s #2 Aston Martin led home the sister V8 Vantage shared by Graham Davidson and Adam who were delayed by their five-second Success Penalty, while Richard Neary and Christodoulou had a quiet run to sixth.

Century’s Green and Dominic Paul came home a second clear of Ellis and Wilkinson’s Aston Martin, which both benefitted from Rick Parfitt Jnr’s final lap puncture.

Century’s second BMW shared by Jack Mitchell and Tom Gamble, and Michael Igoe and Adam Wilcox (WPI Motorsport) completed the points-paying positions.

Balon’s two victories saw him crowned Blancpain’s Driver of the Weekend, while Phil Keen set the Sunoco Fastest Lap. However, he also made history by moving to 17 British GT victories in all classes: two more than John Greasley, Thorkild Thyrring and Tim Mullen. His new total of 15 GT3 and Overall wins is also one more than former record-holder Jonny Adam.

Incredibly, it was also Keen and Barwell’s second double at Snetterton after achieving the same feat along with Jon Minshaw in 2016.

Eurosport has highlights of both races on Saturday 25 May at 10:00 and 13:30. Today’s British GT action can also be watched again as-live on the championship’s Facebook page and website.

2019 continues with the Silverstone 500 – British GT’s blue riband event and first endurance race of the season – on June 8/9.

- Benjamin Franassovici, photo SRO


19.05.2019 / MaP

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