British GT3 Silverstone- Collard and Mitchell save their best 'til last

British GT3 Silverstone- Collard and Mitchell save their best 'til last

09.11.2020: Intelligent Money British GT Championship Silverstone 500 Sunday, November 8th 2020 Pole position in yesterday’s qualifying and a Success Penalty-free race meant Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard headed into today’s race as title favourites despit


Intelligent Money British GT Championship
Silverstone 500
Sunday, November 8th 2020




Pole position in yesterday’s qualifying and a Success Penalty-free race meant Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard headed into today’s race as title favourites despite their six-point championship deficit to Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala.



Of course, British GT rounds – and especially ones lasting three hours – are seldom straightforward. But on this occasion, and to the relief of a Barwell Motorsport team so often the bridesmaids in the title decider, the Black Bull-backed Huracan never looked troubled en route to a comfortable victory.



Collard led away from pole but pitted immediately – along with team-mate Adam Balon – when a Safety Car was called at the end of lap two. By contrast, their main title rivals were forced to complete another lap due to the slightly thirstier Mercedes-AMG, which would have required an extra late pitstop had it shadowed Barwell’s Lamborghinis.



Mitchell thus led Phil Keen when the caution period ended, although Barwell wasted little time swapping its Huracans around in the hope that the #72 title contender could negate some of its looming 20s Success Penalty.



Behind, Team ABBA Racing’s Sam Neary initially held an impressive third place before back-to-back penalties took Team ABBA’s Mercedes-AMG out of podium contention before the first hour.



Instead, the race settled down with Buurman now running third ahead of a charging Ollie Millroy (Optimum McLaren), Kujala and Andrea Caldarelli (WPI Motorsport).



RAM’s Mercedes-AMG was sufficiently quick to jump from third to first after the second round of pitstops. Collard also passed Balon – who’d taken over from Keen several laps earlier – during the driver changes and was soon on Ian Loggie’s tail. The pair circulated together for half the stint until the highs and lows of motorsport struck Barwell at almost the same moment.




First, Balon – who was now fifth after being passed by Brendan Iribe and Lewis Proctor – was tapped around at Stowe by De Haan whose subsequent 10s stop-go penalty effectively ended RAM’s hopes of winning the title. Indeed, the penalty was compounded by Collard relieving Loggie of the lead at almost the same moment.



Barwell were now firmly in the box seat, but two Silver Cup entries remained a victory threat. Optimum’s McLaren crewed by Proctor and Ollie Wilkinson was fast approaching while Jenson Team Rocket RJN’s James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien had stealthy worked their way into contention.



Neither could capitalise on the opportunity, though. Optimum’s hopes ended when Wilkinson spun after making contact with Loggie, and Mitchell emerged from his final pitstop just ahead of O’Brien who couldn’t match the Lamborghini’s pace. Instead, the Scot powered clear to a comfortable, unflustered victory and the 2020 GT3 crown.



Behind, O’Brien ultimately lost out to Buurman who mounted a charge after taking over from Loggie. Second overall and Balon/Keen’s travails handed RAM’s #6 crew the Pro-Am title after coming into the weekend just one point behind.




2 Seas Motorsport also enjoyed a mistake-free run to finish fourth and fifth, debutants Martin Kodric and Al Faisal Al Zubair beating the sister full-season McLaren shared by Angus Fender and Dean Macdonald. Both entries started outside the top-10.
WPI’s Lamborghini rounded out the top-six despite Michael Igoe and Caldarelli serving a 15s Success Penalty at their final pitstop. Without it, they would have been fourth.



Optimum’s #77 McLaren won plenty of admirers for its swashbuckling performance and looked on course for the podium until two setbacks – Iribe’s heart-stopping off-track moment at Village and a late Control-Alt-Delete for Millroy – condemned it to seventh.



De Haan and Kujala’s stop-go and 10s Success Penalty saw the erstwhile championship leaders finish eighth overall and second in the Drivers’ standings, while Keen set Sunoco fastest lap – his fifth in six British GT weekends – and a new GT3 benchmark to help Barwell’s other championship-chasing Lamborghini finish ninth overall and third in the points.



Steller’s Audi shared by Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams rounded out the top-10.


Barwell also beat RAM to the Teams’ crown, while Mitchell and Collard collected the Silver Cup crown.


Oulton Park hosts the opening round of 2021’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship on April 3 & 5. Entries open in early January.




- Tom Hornsby - photo SRO

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09.11.2020 / MaP

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