British GT4 - Consistency key for Matthiesen and Collard

British GT4 - Consistency key for Matthiesen and Collard

20.09.2020: Intelligent Money British GT Championship Donington Park Sunday, September 20th 2020 Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen bounced back from their tyre blowout at Brands Hatch by taking their first win of the season and climbing back into titl

Intelligent Money British GT Championship
Donington Park
Sunday, September 20th  2020

Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen bounced back from their tyre blowout at Brands Hatch by taking their first win of the season and climbing back into title contention.

With no pit window restrictions, GT4 featured a multitude of differing strategies, but it was HHC’s more straightforward approach that ultimately paid dividends in what was a fascinating endurance outing.

While they hadn’t topped the times in any of the previous sessions, Matthiesen and Collard had shown great pace all weekend and were already in a strong position when they qualified the car second behind Academy Motorsport’s Ford Mustang of Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert, which would have to serve an extra 20s at its final pitstop following victory last time out.

A turbulent start to the race was the first factor in creating the tactical battle. When Michael Igoe’s stranded Lamborghini summoned the Safety Car TF Sport was the first to react, immediately ordering both of its cars – started by Connor O’Brien and Dan Vaughan, respectively – to stop at the end of lap one with the race at reduced speed. TF was the only team to make that call, so the twin Astons would run out of sync with the rest of the pack for the race’s entirety.

Across the first stint nobody could touch Cowley, who picked his way through the early chaos from pole to comfortably lead Matthiesen and Gus Bowers in the sister HHC McLaren as the top three began to pull clear across the first hour.

Knowing he had the maximum Success Penalty to serve, Cowley extended his first stint as far as he could, going a full seven laps longer than Matthiesen before handing across to Albert.

Once installed, Albert kept his first run consistent and again worked his way back into the lead after the first of the early-stopping TF Astons had taken its turn out in front in the hands of Patrick Kibble.

Things soon narrowed into a three-horse race when the championship-leading HHC McLaren of Bowers and Chris Wesemael was hit with a stop-go penalty for a short pitstop, and then had that compounded by a drive-through for a pitstop infringement, which dropped it well out of the fight and to an eventual eighth.

It became a fascinating strategic battle over the final half, with the rapid pace of Albert/Cowley always threatening to pull the Mustang clear as Matthiesen/Collard played their strategy straight, stopping like clockwork almost every 45 minutes to stay within striking distance of the Ford. And then there was O’Brien/Kibble’s Aston, which rotated the lead across the pit cycles and would make its final stop inside the last half-hour.

Academy were the first of the three to make their final stop, aiming to give Albert the entire final hour to claw back the 20 seconds the car would have to lose. HHC reacted shortly after, bringing Matthiesen in for Collard knowing they could jump the Ford with no penalty to serve.

Heading into the last 45 minutes, O’Brien lead but still had to make a final stop, while Collard found himself just ahead of Albert. When O’Brien finally peeled into the pits for the last time with just 26 minutes left, it became a straight fight between the McLaren and Ford.

However, Collard drove superbly, fending off heavy pressure from Albert to eventually secure a first win of the season for the crew.Second place was still a fine result for Cowley/Albert, who had 10s in-hand over O’Brien/Kibble.

The second Aston of Vaughan and Jamie Caroline may have adopted the same early-stopping strategy but couldn’t quite match the pace of the #95 machine. They wound up fourth – still good enough to move them level on points with the sister car at the top of the Drivers’ Championship.

Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey celebrated another Pro-Am victory with a fine fifth ahead of James Kell and Sam Smelt in the Toyota, which had got itself into the mix for the final podium spot early on but faded back to sixth. Its cause wasn’t helped by a 30s post-race penalty in lieu of a drive-through for track limits infringements.

Jan Klingelnberg and Warren Hughes took seventh on their series debut together in Balfe’s other McLaren, finishing ahead of the penalised Bowers/Wesemael car.

Century Motorsport endured a tough race, losing the BMW of Ben Hurst/Adam Hatfield early on with a braking issue, before the second car driven by David Whitmore/Luke Sedzikowski lost time in the pits with a technical issue that left it a long way back in ninth overall.

The net result is a dead heat in the points between the two TF Astons, with Albert/Cowley just 1.5 points behind and Collard/Matthiesen a further point back.

British GT now travels to Snetterton for two one-hour sprint races on October 3/4.

- Tom Hornsby photo SRO


20.09.2020 / MaP

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