Flick Haigh wins again at Brands Hatch to take the British GT lead

The race start and Flick is already pulling away (Photo by Marc Waller)The British GT/F3 meeting last weekend was certainly a positive one for women in motorsport. Before the GT race started, Jamie Chadwick had already won the Formula 3 race,

the first to do so and in the following GT race it was Flick Haigh taking to the front of the field after taking pole the previous day.

Haigh and co driver Jonny Adam overcame a ten second pitstop ‘success’ penalty to take their second win of the season and the fourteenth win of Adam’s career.

It was a disasterous day for the championship leading Demon Tweeks Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen after it retired late on with an over heating engine.

Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam claimed the British GT Championship points lead with victory in the penultimate round at Brands Hatch earlier today following a thrilling battle against Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.

The Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin overcame a 10s pitstop success penalty en route to its second win of the season and record-breaking 14th of Adam’s career. TF Sport’s Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim kept their title chances alive by climbing from 10th to third after Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen’s erstwhile championship-leading Barwell Lamborghini retired with an overheating engine. The Lamborghini duo still hang on to second in the championship but for a third year running they will head to Donington park to decide the title.

It was Flick Haigh’s opening stint which helped overcome their success penalty when she pulled out a twelve second lead, enough to account for the penalty and still give them a small lead after the pitstop. This looked set to be lost when a huge GT4 crash on the pit straight brought out the safety car and reduced Haigh’s lead to almost nothing. But on the restart she immediately pulled away again to maximise the Optimum Aston’s chances of taking the win.

Of course this also relied on the Optimum Motorsport team doing a good job on the pitstop which unsurprisingly they did. So when all the cars had made their stop, the Aston was in front once more the Jonny Adam able to control the pace to bring the car home in first.

While the pitstop shuffle was playing out, the second Barwell Lamborghini lead some laps having made an excellent strategy and put in some strong laps. This put Sam de Haan and Jonny Cocker right at the front from sixth on the grid. They never looked like having the pace to win but they managed to hang on to second.

Behind there was a five-car battle for third was playing out between Turner, Keen, Nicki Thiim, Yelmer Buurman and Marco Sorensen who circulated together for much of the stint. That was until Keen’s championship hopes were dented by a blocked radiator and subsequently overheating engine, which forced the Lamborghini out of the race.

Flick and Jonny looked fast all weekend (Photo by Marc Waller) Anna Waleswskas new small team continues to  impress (Photo by Marc Waller) GT4 winners (Photo by Marc Waller) 

 

 

 

So Nicki Thiim then inherited fourth, which became third just before the chequered flag at Turner’s expense. The TF Sport Aston Martin he shares with Mark Farmer had started tenth but a strong drive by both of the pairing saw them claim the final podium place and, with it they retain a chance of winning the title at Donington Park next month.

So Haigh and Adam will take a 17.5-point lead over Minshaw and Keen into the final round while Farmer and Thiim are another point behind. Haigh was pleased to take the win;

Anna with team mate 16 year old Tom Canning (Photo by Marc Waller) GT3 podium (Photo by Marc Waller) Flick Haigh recieves the driver of the weekend award on the podium (Photo by Marc Waller) Flick and Jonny spray the champagne (Photo by Marc Waller)

 

 

 

“I was worried about the Safety Car because I was in a good rhythm and had built a good gap but then suddenly it was all gone. I was struggling a bit towards the end with the car and heat but managed to pull just enough of a gap again – I was very conscious of the pitstop success penalty. The Safety Car period gave us another challenge to overcome but we responded well.”

Haigh’s impressive drive earned her the Blancpain driver of the weekend award.

The safety car had a more significant impact on GT4. Before the safety car the front row starting Century Motorsport BMW’s were comfortably leading but after the safety car and pitstops played out, it was Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson coming through in their Mclaren from thirteenth on the grid to win. Ben Tuck fought back hard in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 and over took two cars on the final lap to snatch second with Ultratek taking third with Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman

Elsewhere, defending Pro/Am champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson came through from 13th to claim their first GT4 win of the season, while Ben Tuck overtook two cars on the final lap to hand the Century Motorsport BMW he shares with Ben Green a hard-fought second place finish. UltraTek Racing’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman completed the podium. Less than 0.2s covered the three behind the leaders at the finish with Scott Malvern and Nick Jones Mercedes in fourth.

Behind, Osborne completed Tolman’s impressive comeback by finishing fifth after the team had a very late night once again changing the #56 McLaren’s engine ater it blew on Saturday. A second PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award in as many events was very well deserved.

Sixth went to HHC Motorsport’s Callum Pointon and Patrik Matthiesen who slightly reduced their deficit to championship leader Jack Mitchell.

The Century driver did well to recover from the full 20s success penalty, as well as the extra 30s served by all Silver Cup crews, after co-driver Macdonald handed the BMW over in second place, the safety car period really hurt their race.

Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding were best placed of the Pro/Am runners before contact at Graham Hill Bend knocked their Steller Motorsport Toyota out of contention just before the pitstops. They recovered to finish eighth in class ahead of Tolman’s Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg, and ProTechnika’s Anna Walewska and Tom Canning.

Anna Waleswska and Tom Canning were having their second meeting as team mates at Walewska’s newly formed team. Although things didn’t go as well as they did on their Spa debut, Canning showed flashes of speed which suggests they are fully capable of ending their season on a high at Donington.

But it was the Balfe Motorsport Mclaren taking GT4 honours at Brands. We’ll leave the last words to Graham Johnson who revealed that their victory was nearly spoilt by a mystery car problem;

“We don’t know what the problem is but something wasn’t right on the formation lap – it sounded like a bag of tools in the passenger footwell! The noise stopped but then there was a lot of understeer and it sounded like the front of the car was hitting the ground. So it was a case of finding a way to drive around the problem before Mike – who drove brilliantly – got in. It feels great to win again and Balfe really deserve this.”

By Marc Waller 

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