Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam made it two victories in a row after claiming victory at Rockingham Motor Speedway, located in Corby. The duo did a superb job after overcoming their twenty second pit stop success penalty earned at Brands Hatch. The pair racing in the TF Sport run Aston Martin dominated the two-hour race which featured two safety car periods and also a number of incidents that affected the other GT3 competitors.
Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen took second place on the road and in GT3 class classification after coming through to finish just under five seconds behind the Aston Martin. A narrow second behind the Lamborghini was the Beachdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage in the hands of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn.
Derek Johnston was impressive throughout his stint of the race and helped to secure the lead for the team. He started from pole position and was able to gradually begin opening a gap up between him and the cars pursuing him during the opening fifty minutes of the race. By the time the pit window opened for the driver changes to take place, he had a ten second lead. The lead helped the team as the drivers had to endure a twenty second pit stop success penalty after winning at Brands Hatch two weeks ago.
Things were beginning to get messy further back in the field of cars, there were a number of incidents that occurred during the opening hour of the race. AMDTuning.com’s Lee Mowle started the race from sixth on the grid in the BMW Z4 but managed to get up to fourth after getting a blinding start but suffering a spin which dropped him back down the order. Jon Minshaw in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini was able to close in on Alasdair McCaig in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren that had started the race on the front row of the grid. The two prior and Barwell’s sister car with Liam Griffin at the wheel circulated around the circuit together before Griffin got through into second after passing the McLaren 650S GT3 of McCaig at Tarzan.
Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr was definitely a man on a mission in the early stage of the race. The team had been unable to take part in qualifying after spinning on oil and crashing out into barriers in the first practice session. After an incident with the Optimum Motorsport Audi in the hands of Will Moore during the opening laps of the race saw the Bentley spin and lose ground. Parfitt Jnr was now set on making up the lost ground to prove what the Bentley was capable of. The pace of the GT3 Bentley was soon noticed as he was quickly up into fourth and challenging third placed Minshaw, who had just overtaken McCaig to take third. The McLaren in the hands of McCaig was able to repass both the Bentley and Lamborghini after the duo ran wide whilst battling for third place at Deene.
McCaig then began dropping back in what seemed to be a suspected electrical gremlin. The pit window opened whilst Derek Johnston was in the lead of the race followed by Liam Griffin and Jon Minshaw. The TF Sport pairing had a twenty second pit stop success penalty to endure during their pit stop for Jonny Adam to take to the wheel, normally the penalty would have been sufficient to see Adam drop down the order and have to fight his way back up at the start of his stint but the second placed #6 Lamborghini Huracan had to serve its own ten second success penalty during their pit stop. The #17 TF Sport Aston Martin emerged from the pits with a slim lead over Adam Carroll who was now aboard the #6 Huracan. Phil Keen emerged in third, now aboard the Demon Tweeks backed Lamborghini Huracan. Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Bentley had earned itself a stop and go penalty lasting ten seconds after having contact during Parfitt Jnr’s opening stint of the race which could have been avoided.
A safety car was deployed to allow Graham Johnson’s Optimum Motorsport Ginetta to be recovered which had collided with Jody Fannin’s PFL Motorsport run Aston Martin causing terminal damage to the Aston. This allowed Phil Keen to take to the restart just under four seconds ahead of teammate Adam Carroll in the sister Lamborghini, who was running right on the tail of Jonny Adam.
As soon as racing was back underway Phil Keen quickly cleared the traffic and was back on Carroll’s bumper, but was unable to find a way past. This allowed Adam in the Aston Martin to get a good escape from the duo. As the leaders went to take the restart of the race there was a stationary GT4 McLaren on the banking at turn one. Adam Carroll was too enthusiastic and began overtaking back markers before the start line which earnt him a drive through penalty.
Phil Keen decided against chasing down Adam as he needed to maintain the tyres of the Lamborghini due to the rough track surface at Rockingham, instead he decided to spend the remaining hour of the race defending from Ross Gunn in the Beachdean AMR Aston Martin. The gap between the two was less than one second at the flag despite Gunn trying extremely hard to pass the Huracan during the race.
Andy Carroll managed to do a great recovery drive to bring the #6 Lamborghini, he shares driving duties with Liam Griffin, home in fourth place ahead of Motorbase’s Ross Wylie and Phil Dryburgh. The Aston Martin in the hands of Ross Wylie and Phil Dryburgh kept its nose clean during the race, avoiding any incidents or penalties to finish in fifth after their disastrous weekend at Brands Hatch.
Optimum Motorsport’s Will Moore had an eventful afternoon in the opening hour of the race, contact on the opening laps saw him get penalised for ‘avoidable contact’. However the quick driving from the silver pairing of Moore and teammate Ryan Ratcliffe saw the duo bring the Audi R8 LMS GT3 home in sixth place ahead of Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse drivers Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell’s McLaren. The McLaren would have definitely been a podium contender but kept suffering with intermittent gremlins that wrecked the end of the first stint of the race.
TF Sport’s Mark Farmer started the race and made up six places before having an unfortunate spin. However, he and teammate Jon Barnes managed to recover the car from having no running on Saturday due to having to have an engine change and the spin to finish the race eighth.
AMDTuning.com’s Lee Mowle suffered a puncture after having a coming together with Mark Farmer, this contributed towards he and teammate Joe Osborne finishing in ninth aboard their BMW Z4. Meanwhile Team Abba with Rollcentre Racing with Martin Short and Richard Neary at the wheel rounded out the top ten finishers.
Ian Stinton aboard the #32 Ginetta G55 GT3 was one of the victims of Will Moore’s opening lap contact which broke the Tolman Motorsport run car’s rear suspension. Meanwhile Luke Davenport and David Pattison were suffering from a delaminating tyre.
Derek Johnston earnt himself the Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend Award after dominating the race during his stint of the race after qualifying on pole position. Meanwhile Team Parker Racing received the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend prize after the team spent all of Saturday and the majority of Sunday morning repairing the badly damaged Bentley ahead of sending drivers Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr out for the warm up session.
Phil Keen was the lucky driver to secure the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Race Award for setting the new British GT record around the Rockingham International Super Sportcar Circuit with a lap time of 1:8.341. Although he was disappointed to miss out on the race win.
© Fay Tilley 3rd May 2016.