Trackspeed take the Donington win but Attard wins British GT championship

Race start (photo by Marc Waller)Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw have won the British GT finale at Donington while Marco Attard is GT3 champion even though he retired early on.

Attard hit trouble early in the day when a fault developed with his engine in warm up. The team decided to undertake the massive task of a full engine change before the start of the race. On the green flag lap it appeared that all was not well as the car was smoking heavily. The team had decided it was just a slight overfill of the oil and would dissipate after a few laps.

As the race got underway, Oman Racing’s Ahmad Al Harthy took the lead from pole but Marco Attard slotted into second with the car still smoking. Significantly, Jon Minshaw in the Trackspeed Porsche had made a great start into fourth just behind the second Oman Racing Aston driven at this stage by Rory Butcher. A few laps later it seemed like the Ecurie Ecosse team were right as the white smoke trail appeared to be stopping. Sadly there was a far more serious reason. On the tenth lap the car pulled into the pits and the team found an oil pipe feeding the gearbox had come loose, the resulting mechanical damage left them with no other option but to retire. At this stage this looked to be a disaster as Al Harthy was still leading, the position they needed to take the title. It looked as though Attards championship chances were gone.

Also retiring early on were last year’s champions, Beechdean Racing, Andrew Howard did have an outside chance of taking the gentlemen drivers trophy from Marco Attard but his retirement handed that title to the Ecurie Ecosse driver. Attard however had his heart set on overall honours.

The Oman car continued to lead as the race came to the pit stops. The Oman Racing Aston had a successful pit stop and Michael Caine took over the car still in the lead. Liam Griffin was now in second in the other Oman Aston with Minshaw still in the Keen and Minshaw (photo by Marc Waller)GT4 battle was close (photo by Marc Waller)Second Trackspeed car took fastest lap (photo by Marc Waller)Caine and Al Harthy put up a fight but couldn't do it (photo by Marc Waller)GT4 race winners (photo by Marc Waller)Trackspeed Porsche. When Trackspeed finally stopped the car was handed over to the ever quick Phil Keen and he started taking massive chunks out of the lead of the two Oman Aston’s, quickly passing Griffin and setting off in pursuit of Caine. With Keen bearing down on him, Caine was feeling the pressure and made a mistake trying to pass one of the Triple Eight BMW’s that was being lapped. Ryan Ratcliffe came off worse in the collision and he immediately took to the pitlane but it had lost Caine time and now Keen was looking for a way past. It was at this point that the Trackspeed team revealed in an interview that the Minshaw/Keen car had contact on the first lap and that the steering was bent. This made the fact the car was now fighting for the lead even more impressive.

A light rain shower added to Caine’s woes and soon he could provide no more resistance and Keen was through. Caine and Al Harthy needed the win for the title, nothing else would do and so Caine would need to stay in touch if he had any hope of winning the title. Sadly for the team it soon became clear this wasn’t possible as Ollie Hancock in the FF Corse Ferrari he was Sharing with Gary Eastwood shot past into second. Caine was also under threat from Matt Bell in the United Autosport Audi. Mark Paterson had handed over the car in twelfth and Bell had made an amazing charge up the field. Soon this would become third as he passed the fading Caine.

So Keen crossed the line to take the win with Minshaw, although only just as his car failed as he crossed the line. Ollie Hancock took second in a great drive alongside Gary Eastwood and Matt Bell took third with Mark Patterson who has said he is retiring after this weekend. Fourth was Caine and Al Harthy, not enough to take the title from Attard, they end up third in the standings. Fifth was the second Oman racing Aston Martin of Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher who had tried to help their team mates to the title. Phil Dryburgh and Alex Macdowall took sixth in the Kinfaun Aston Martin ahead of the second Trackspeed Porsche of David Ashburn and Nick Tandy. Tandy had been the fastest car on track in the closing stages but they were too far back to go for the front of the field but did take the overall fastest lap. The AF Corse Ferrari of Pasin Lathouras and Richard Lyons took eighth and were another car that looked quick in the closing stages. Derek Johnston and Joe Osbourne were ninth in their BMW Z4 GT3 with the second AF Corse Ferrari 458 taking the final top ten place with John Dhillon and Aaron Scott at the wheel.

The GT4 cars had a race long battle for the top three spots, early leaders and class pole sitters Issy Racing retired and Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 of Aleksander Schjerpen and Morten Dons retired from what seemed to be their first win of the year. In the end their Century team mates Rick Parfitt Jr and Tom Oliiphant took the win. The pair have had such an awful year that they covered their car in various lucky charm stickers in the hope of attracting some luck. They certainly acheieved it but maybe they took it from their team mates! The TF Sport Aston of Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell took second, they had been leading for a while but spun and could only manage second. Third were the Twisted Team Parker Ginetta G55 of Adrian Barwick and Bradley Ellis just ahead of the similar Fox Motorsport machine of Paul McNeily and Jamie Stanley. Unusually low down the order were the Beachdean Junior team of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings but this gave them enough points to take the overall British GT4 title.

Full results are available on TSL Timing’s website

So a tense finale produced an overall champion in the form of Marco Attard even though he only completed ten laps in the race, his points lead proved enough to keep him on top. Unfortunately as co driver Alexander Sims was forced to miss a round during the season he was unable to share the title and finishes the season in third with today’s retirement costing him the runner up spot. Al Harthy and Caine take joint second. The rumours are already starting on the 2015 British GT championship and if it continues the standards set this season we could be in for another great season.  By Marc Waller

Important pitstop (photo by Marc Waller) Keen and Minshaw talk tactics at the pitstop (photo by Marc Waller) 2014 GT4 Champions (photo by Marc Waller) Second in the race were the FF corse Ferrari of Eastwood and Hancock (photo by Marc Waller) 2014 champions (photo by Marc Waller) Third place (photo by Marc Waller) Champion Attard gets a soaking from the race winners (photo by Marc Waller) GT4 champions get a soaking from the GT4 class winners

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