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British GT4 : Smith and Dorlin emerge victorious from entertaining contest

British GT4 : Smith and Dorlin emerge victorious from entertaining contest

04.08.2019: While the GT3 contest settled down following an exciting opening phase, the battle for GT4 honours swung between several crews and did not seem entirely certain until the chequered flag. The #57 HHC McLaren started from pole, but Call

While the GT3 contest settled down following an exciting opening phase, the battle for GT4 honours swung between several crews and did not seem entirely certain until the chequered flag.



The #57 HHC McLaren started from pole, but Callum Pointon lost his advantage immediately as the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin driven by Ashley Hand moved into the lead from second on the grid, while the #4 Tolman McLaren relegated the pole-sitter to third. Top spot in the Pro/Am class also changed hands at the start, with Nick Jones (#66 Team Parker Mercedes-AMG) leapfrogging Kelvin Fletcher (#11 Beechdean Aston Martin) during an eventful opening tour.



Further back the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin of Alex Toth-Jones was penalised for a start infringement, though with the car running on the fringes of the top-10 this did not seem especially significant at the time.



But a Safety Car for debris on-track would change that. Having dropped well off the lead after serving their penalty, the #62 crew elected to run long into the stint. With the Safety Car coinciding with the GT4 pit window, they were able to vault into a commanding lead by stopping at the ideal moment. Indeed, by the time Will Moore had settled in for the second hour, the Academy machine led by half-a-minute.



An unlikely victory seemed to be on the cards, but there was another twist. With just 20 minutes left on the clock, Moore suffered brake failure at Paddock Hill Bend, sending the Aston into the Druids wall and dashing any hope of victory.




This promoted the #4 Tolman McLaren into the lead. The car had remained in contention after Josh Smith was replaced by James Dorlin and, with the #62 Aston's demise, was able to move into top spot and capture its first win of the season. Second spot went to the pole-sitting HHC McLaren, driven for the second hour by Dean Macdonald, who secured the Sunoco Fastest Lap Award as he closed to within just half-a-second of the winner.



The #15 Multimatic Ford looked to have sealed the final spot on the podium after Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx took third on the road, but a post-race investigation found the car to be in breach of a pitstop safety regulation. In lieu of the standard 10-second stop/go penalty, 40 seconds have been added to the Ford’s race time, dropping it to ninth in the final classification. The #35 Optimum Aston Martin was handed the same penalty for a similar pitstop safety infringement.


The #97 TF Aston therefore assumed third spot and the points lead, capping an excellent showing that came in spite of a 20-second Success Penalty. Behind, Century Motorsport's #43 BMW was fourth after Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke and Nathan Freke made excellent progress form 12th on the grid.



The Pro/Am winner was next across the line, with the #11 Beechdean Aston recovering from its slow getaway to clinch class honours. Fletcher had returned to the lead during his stint, handing over to Martin Plowman in a strong position to secure a second victory of the season. Fox Motorsport were next with their #77 Mercedes-AMG, which clinched runner-up in Pro/Am, followed by the #75 Optimum Aston Martin.



This puts the #11 crew on the brink of the Pro/Am title heading to Donington Park after their nearest rivals, Balfe’s Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien, were classified finishers despite retiring with 15 minutes remaining.


In the overall GT4 standings, the #97 pairing of Hand and Tom Canning move to top spot with 117.5 points. Five crews are in contention to overhaul them, led by Pointon/Macdonald on 109 and Maxwell/Priaulx on 105.5.



Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor also remain in the hunt with 97.5 points, while victory at Brands Hatch puts the Dorlin/Smith partnership on 84.5. Fletcher/Plowman also retain a mathematical chance of sealing the title, trailing the leaders by 37 points with 37.5 on offer at the finale.


The season-ending trip to Donington Park will take place over the weekend of September 14/15.
 





Benjamin Franassovici, photo SRO

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/british-gt4-brands-hatch-smith-dorlin-victory---195301.html

04.08.2019 / MaP

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