TF Sport’s Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes scored their first win at Spa. This was Farmer’s maiden victory in the British GTs whilst it was Jon Barnes’ first in eight years. They narrowly took the win from Team Parker’s Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr at the Belgian circuit, the gap between the two cars was just 0.674 seconds at the end of the two-hour race. Abdulaziz Al Faisal and Miguel Toril rounded out the podium finishers in their Mercedes AMG GT3 after the sister car run by Black Falcon with Oliver Morley and Dani Juncadella were handed a thirty second penalty after the race for overtaking under yellow flags. TF Sport’s Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam finished the race in seventh but have seen their championship cut down to just 8.5 points by Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
The first run through La Source set up an exciting looking race. Barwell Motorsport’s Liam Griffin who started fifth collided with the rear of Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Bentley who subsequently was pushed into Alasdair McCaig’s Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse’s McLaren, which had started second on the grid. The contact broke the right rear suspension on the McLaren. Andrew Howard was also caught up in the first corner carnage which caused him to lose a wheel from his Beechdean AMR Vantage as he attempted to re-join from the outside run off of the circuit. The chaos at the first corner allowed Mark Farmer to storm off into the distance after starting from third place. Behind Farmer was BTCC regular Hunter Abbott who was able to avoid the collisions and jump to second place after starting in ninth place. Rick Parfitt Jnr managed to recover to be running in third place with Al Faisal and teammate Morley following behind.
Mark Farmer was able to break clear at the beginning of the race but he was soon reeled in and passed by Hunter Abbott and Al Faisal after he found his way past Parfitt Jnr. Then it was time for the pit window to open for the mandatory driver changes. TF Sport made the decision not to pit at the first opportunity, this helped them to re-pass Al Faisal in the Mercedes as the driver changes began taking place but Black Falcon also opted to stay out for longer. This meant that Jon Barnes was released right on the bumper of Rolf Ineichen, whose Grasser Racing Team Huracan had retained the leader after Abbott pitted to change driver.
Team Parker Racing’s Seb Morris was able to benefit from the Black Falcon teams pit strategy to be running third after the stops took place. Morris showed how much pace his Bentley had and was soon on Ineichen’s tail, it took quite a bit of time for the Welshman to pass the Lamborghini. With just under forty minutes of the race remaining Morris made the pass but now his focus would be to chase down Barnes who was now six seconds ahead. The gap between the two went up and down due to the traffic they came across, despite getting within six tenths of Barnes, Morris was still unable to make a challenge for the lead which allowed the TF Sport driver to take his first British GT win since Brands Hatch in July 2008.
The Mercedes AMG factory driver Dani Juncadella’s pace during the final stint of the race helped his claim third from Ineichen and was able to close to being within five seconds of Barnes during the latter stage of the race. Black Falcon’s sister car with Toril at the wheel passed the Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini to finish fourth across the line before being promoted to third after the race. Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen had a bad qualifying session which saw them start the race in sixteenth. The duo managed to pick off ten places but then had to serve their twenty second pit stop success penalty after being victorious at Silverstone.
TF Sport’s Johnston was back and forward inside the top six during his opening stint before handing the car over to Jonny Adam. Damage stopped Adam from being able to make up further ground during the second hour of the race. Barwell Motorsport’s Liam Griffin’s first corner incident came at the cost of his front bonnet and also a drive through penalty. His co-driver Alexander Sims showed what might have been by going on to set the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the race on his way to claiming an eighth place finish. He was helped by being able to pass Joe Osborne in the AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 on the last lap of the race as well as a late pit-stop for the #19 Lamborghini run by the Grasser Racing Team, which was also given a thirty second penalty after the race. Tolman Motorsport’s Ian Stinton and Mike Simpson rounded out the top ten, they were also the last to take a points finish inside the GT3 class.
©Fay Tilley 10th July 2016.