British GT3 at Snetterton - Tight at the top with five to go

British GT3 at Snetterton - Tight at the top with five to go

03.08.2021: Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind’s title ambitions looked to have been dealt a crippling blow at Donington. But fast forward two weeks and Barwell’s #63 Lamborghini sat atop the Drivers’ standings once again thanks to its commanding victory at Spa.

Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind’s title ambitions looked to have been dealt a crippling blow at Donington. But fast forward two weeks and Barwell’s #63 Lamborghini sat atop the Drivers’ standings once again thanks to its commanding victory at Spa.



Ordinarily British GT’s Success Penalty system would restrict their chances this weekend. But the shorter additional times for sprint rounds – 10, seven and five seconds for the top-three instead of 20, 15 and 10 – have been fully overturned at Snetterton twice in recent years.


And on both occasions it was by a Barwell Lamborghini. Indeed, the Huracan is something of a sprint specialist having won 13 of the 23 hour-long British GT races its contested since 2016.



There’s a second raging bull in Barwell’s stable that won’t carry a Success Penalty in Sunday’s first race. What’s more, it features Adam Balon who has won three of the last four races at Snetterton and shares with reigning champion Sandy Mitchell. The duo have worked hard to put themselves back in title contention but must now capitalise on their team-mates’ Race 1 handicap in order to further chip away at the current 19.5-point deficit.



They have the same number of points as Jonny Adam whose bid for a fifth title was scuppered by having to self-isolate just before Spa. But, as was also the case in 2013, the Scot can still play a critical role in Andrew Howard’s championship pursuit when he returns this weekend. Spa was an eventful race all round for Beechdean AMR, but they still head to Snetterton just 1.5 points behind Machitski/Lind and with the bonus of initially racing handicap-free. What’s more, the Aston Martin is yet to finish outside the top-four this year.



RAM also remains firmly in the hunt after working wonders to patch up their Mercedes-AMG and score points in Belgium. As such, Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman are just 7.5 behind Machitski/Lind and without the prospect of a Race 1 Success Penalty. They might remain winless this year but, just like Beechdean, RAM has proven that consistency is key to mounting a British GT title challenge.



WPI are also back in contention after finishing runners-up last time out but must now deal with the additional seven seconds in Race 1. That’s seldom been an issue for Phil Keen who’s converted the maximum sprint handicap into victory on three occasions, two of which came in Norfolk. His record at Snetterton is also exemplary having won seven of his last 14 British GT races there. Now, he and Michael Igoe must score heavily again if they’re to maintain the pressure on Barwell’s front-running crew.



Only three entries have scored in all four races thus far: Beechdean, RAM and Balfe’s McLaren shared by Stewart and Lewis Proctor. The intense battle at the front has diverted attention from the father/son duo who were steadily improving throughout 2021, as highlighted by Lewis’ qualifying performance at Donington, before scoring their first overall podium together at Spa where Stewart rebuffed Igoe and Balon throughout the opening stint. The Silver-Am championship leaders carry a five-second success handicap in Sunday’s first race.



Elsewhere, Team Parker’s Porsche is expected to attend following its accident in free practice at Spa, while Paddock Motorsport and Enduro Motorsport are also back after being unable to travel.



G-Cat’s race-by-race Porsche crewed by Shamus Jennings and Greg Caton makes its third appearance of the season, and Ahmad Al Harthy finally makes a long-awaited return 17 months after his Oman Racing with TF Sport entry was originally announced. He claimed overall victory at Snetterton back in 2013.



But Team Abba Racing’s Richard and Sam Neary will be absent because of damage sustained at Spa. The team was initially hopeful of repairing their Mercedes-AMG in time for Snetterton but will now focus on returning at Oulton Park instead.
 



- Tom Hornsby - photo SRO

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03.08.2021 / MaP

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