British GT3 - Fourth time lucky for Keen ?

British GT3 - Fourth time lucky for Keen ?

09.09.2019: Phil Keen has never won a British GT3 championship. It’s not for a lack of trying. Indeed, he’s finished runner-up on the last three occasions. This year, as in every year since 2016, he heads to the final round with a chance to finally wrap up that elusi

Phil Keen has never won a British GT3 championship. It’s not for a lack of trying. Indeed, he’s finished runner-up on the last three occasions. This year, as in every year since 2016, he heads to the final round with a chance to finally wrap up that elusive title.



You could argue it should already be a forgone conclusion. After all, Keen and his Barwell Motorsport co-driver Adam Balon collected 80 of the first 100 points and were 54 ahead of their now-closest rivals after Silverstone. That gap now stands at just six points, and would have been smaller without Keen’s final lap move at Brands Hatch.



Two of his previous #DoningtonDecider defeats came at the hands of Jonny Adam who has a chance to claim a record-extending fourth British GT title this weekend. You wouldn’t have bet on the Scot and his co-driver Graham Davidson after their mediocre start to the year culminated in late heartbreak at Silverstone. Nevertheless, two wins in the last three races – including at Donington in June – have thrust TF Sport’s lead Aston Martin into championship contention at exactly the right moment.



The caveat is a 20s Pitstop Success Penalty for winning last time out at Brands Hatch. By contrast, Balon and Keen will race handicap-free at a venue where the latter scored victory aboard Barwell’s Lamborghini 12 months ago.



Keen and Balon must also keep a close eye on their team-mates Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker whose championship deficit would have been much smaller without Brands Hatch’s last lap shuffle. 11.5 points separate the two Lamborghinis ahead of Donington where the #69 Huracan secured third in June. Victory this Sunday would force Balon and Keen to finish second in order to clinch the crown.



The two remaining title protagonists have no choice but to win on Sunday. Newly-crowned Silver Cup champions Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis have already done that once this year at Spa where their Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin dominated, while Balfe Motorsport’s McLaren shared by Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell has been the fastest entry yet to win this season. The latter’s 15s Success Penalty adds a further obstacle at a circuit where the 720S finished second in June.



They’re the contenders, but what about the championship party poopers this weekend?



Well, ‘gatecrasher’ is written all over RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG, which is in the midst of a good race, bad race cycle that extends back to Silverstone. 10th place at Brands Hatch means Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod should be guaranteed podium finishers this weekend!



Angus Fender’s promotion from Century’s BMW M4 GT4 to the M6 GT3 paid immediate dividends at Brands Hatch where the car he shares with Jack Mitchell scored BMW’s first overall British GT podium since 2016. The Silver Cup entry must therefore serve a 10s Pitstop Success Penalty, which hands the intra-team advantage to its Pro/Am counterpart driven by Dominic Paul and Ben Green. The latter and Mitchell previously went head-to-head for 2018’s GT4 crown at Donington 12 months ago.



Donington also holds fond memories for Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris who won their British GT title there two years ago. But JRM’s Bentley finds itself only 11th in the standings after collecting fewer points in the last seven races than it achieved in the season opener. The duo will be eager to salvage something from a tough campaign.



There’s also TF Sport’s second Aston Martin, which Davidson and Adam are relying on to take points away from Barwell. Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim won on the road at Donington last year before a post-race penalty dropped them to second, and will have one final chance to end a frustrating season on a high.



Equally, TF Sport are trying to overturn their 45.5-point deficit in the Teams’ Championship. Barwell need just 19 points, regardless of what their rivals manage, to reclaim a crown they last won in 2017.


Elsewhere, Ross Gunn returns to partner Andrew Howard in Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin after making his FIA WEC debut as a factory driver two weeks ago, while Jordan Witt joins Ryan Ratcliffe at Team Parker Racing.





- Benjamin Franassovici, photo SRO

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/-british-gt3-fourt-time-keen-phil---197045.html

09.09.2019 / MaP

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