The Beachdean duo of Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert were able to secure their maiden win in the British GT Championship in the GT4 class during this weekend’s meeting at Rockingham. This came around after Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska in the Century Motorsport run Ginetta G55 GT4 got excluded from the race after finishing first on the road.
Due to the post-race exclusions this promoted the sister Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 in the hands of Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen up to second in class. Third place on the podium went to Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and Joey Foster.
There were a number of teams who could, should and would have won the Rockingham round of the championship but a lot suffered a variety of car issues, accidents that could have been avoided and penalties thrown out during the two-hour long race.
After the officials had handed out all of the post-race penalties it was Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert who emerged as the victors, despite only being down in tenth when the pit stop window opened mid race. Success penalties applied from the first round caused some issues for some teams as they dropped back down the pack during their time spent in the pit lane. Whereas some teams suffered damage and mechanical gremlins causing their drivers to have to pit more than once. This allowed the Beachdean AMR pairing to capitalise on other driver’s misfortunes during the eventful second half of the race. Despite Jack Bartholomew suffering from a recurring brake issue causing him to spin out of fifth at Deene midway through his stint the duo still managed to claw their way back.
Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska had to start the race from dead last on the grid due to suffering a fuel pump failure during practice and qualifying, Walewska fought her way up to ninth before the pit lane opened for the mid race pit stop driver changes. However, Walewska had overtaken under yellow flags during the opening laps of the race. During their pit stop to change drivers so that Nathan Freke could take over they had to serve their fifteen second success penalty from being victorious at Brands Hatch two weeks ago.
Freke left the pit lane with plenty of work to do but a safety car was brought out during his stint which took some of the time away that he could have used to push further up the grid. The incredible pace that the Ginetta has helped him to move forwards swiftly before taking the lead after the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren driven by Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell received a stop/go pit drive through penalty.
The new McLaren had been looking the most likely candidate to be victorious around the Rockingham circuit at the driver change pit stops as Sandy Mitchell had closely followed race leader Graham Johnson in the Optimum Motorsport run Ginetta over the closing laps of their opening stints. Unfortunately, by the driver pairing in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S not completing the full minimum pit stop penalty time, so even though Ciaran Haggerty emerged from the driver change pit stop as the race leader it was soon taken away.
Generation AMR SuperRacing’s Jamie Chadwick and Matthew George were promoted in to the lead of the race but it was to be short lived as Nathan Freke made his move on the Aston Martin to take the lead. After suffering from brake issues a few laps later the decision was made to retire the Aston Martin from the race instead of risking losing its brakes and ending in bad damage.
The race winning PMW Expo Racing/ Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 made a perfect getaway from pole position to lead the opening stint of the two-hour long race. The duo could definitely have been a podium contender during its race even with having to endure a twenty second pit stop success penalty. Unfortunately, towards the end of Graham Johnson’s stint of the race he was involved in an accident with Jody Fanin which put the Optimum car into retirement to be later excluded from the race. The incident also prompted the first safety car period of the race.
After a chaotic race Century Motorsport’s Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen crossed the line third on the road and after multiple post-race penalties being handed out they finished second in the final classification. Sean Byrne started the race on the front row alongside Graham Johnson but was soon passed by more experienced drivers during the first hour of the race. Teammate Schjerpen then jumped aboard the Ginetta G55 and managed to steer clear of all the drama taking place around the circuit to take a very well deserved podium.
The podium was rounded out by Alex Reed and Joey Foster in the Lanan Racing Ginetta, the duo had managed to keep their nose clean during the race to claim their first podium finish in British GT GT4 class. Foster started the race from twelfth on the GT4 grid and just before the pit window opened for driver changes he was up into eighth in class. Foster chose to stay out on the circuit longer than most of his GT4 class rivals before handing the car over to Alex Reed for the final stint of the race. A trouble free run to the flag saw the team earn themselves a third place after confirming their permanent switch to racing a Ginetta machine instead of the expected Porsche. The third place finish will definitely help to boost the team’s confidence.
Eborg GT’s Marcus Hoggarth produced a great opening stint of progress, passing four cars before handing the Maserati GT over to teammate Abbie Eaton. The newcomers to the championship did not have to worry about a pit stop success penalty so they had a pretty good chance at getting a podium, this was before they did not fulfill the pit stop driver change minimum time which incurred them a stop/go penalty lasting thirty-eight seconds. Abbie drove astonishingly to climb the car back up to finish in fourth.
Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse did amazing to finish the race in fifth after receiving a stop/go penalty as well as suffering intermittent electrical issues that saw the McLaren come to a halt on track twice during the race. The first time the car stopped it brought out the safety car for a brief period of time.
Matthew Graham and Jack Mitchell at the wheel of the Generation AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin finished the race in sixth just ahead of JWBird Motorport’s Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings.
Jordan Stilp and William Phillips at the wheel of the RCIB Insurance Racing/Team Hard Ginetta G55 GT4 finished in eighth despite having to pit due to suffering with steering issues.
Although Nathan Freke was excluded from the race he still took home he Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend Award after setting a blinding 1:23.957. His lap time was almost one second quicker than the next best lap time in the GT4 class and two seconds inside the current class lap record of the Rockingham International Super Sportscar Circuit.
© Fay Tilley 2nd May 2016.