Richard and Sam Neary have scored theirs, and Team Abba Racing’s, maiden Intelligent Money British GT Championship victories during a dramatic two-hour race of attrition at Donington Park where Century Motorsport’s Gus Burton and Will Burns extended their GT4 points lead after winning for the second time in three outings.
Abba’s Mercedes-AMG started 10th after being forced to miss qualifying but avoided accidents around it to run out a comfortable winner from Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman. RAM Racing’s pole-sitters are now joint GT3 championship leaders with Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam who completed the podium, while the Nearys – British GT’s first-ever father/son race winners – vault up to tied third.
Behind, Century’s second BMW shared by Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke finished runners-up overall and first in Pro-Am after overhauling Fox Motorsport’s Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley.
It would be easy to dismiss the Nearys’ victory as consequence of others’ misfortune. But that wouldn’t tell the story of a remarkable turnaround following the brake disc failure that destroyed their Mercedes-AMG’s front-right suspension during Saturday’s second practice session.
Indeed, the team were confident before the race and immediately made ground at the start before Leo Machitski clipped Michael Igoe’s spinning Lamborghini, which was tapped around by Nick Jones at Redgate on lap one. The accident sent cars scattering in avoidance, but somehow Richard Neary just made it through unscathed to occupy second behind Ian Loggie at the restart.
The accident had serious repercussions for Barwell’s #63 entry and WPI Motorsport who lay first and third in the championship before the incident forced their early retirements.
The race resumed once both cars had been recovered but was back under caution soon after when several GT4 cars came to blows. Neary had been caught napping at the first restart but made no mistake second time and dived down the inside of Loggie into Redgate. His attempts to break clear were briefly delayed by a third Safety Car while debris was recovered, but he duly opened a three-second advantage once sustained racing finally began after 28 minutes.
Loggie was also able to gap a chasing pack initially headed by Stewart Proctor before Balfe’s McLaren was shuffled down to seventh in quick succession by Kelvin Fletcher, Adam Balon, Andrew Howard and Morgan Tillbrook. The Bentley, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and McLaren circulated together leading up to the pitstops before first Balon and then Howard found a way past Fletcher who was struggling for grip.
Back at the front Loggie had closed to within 1.5s of Neary before both pitted at the first opportunity. RAM’s 10s Success Penalty relieved some of the pressure of a race between mechanics, but Sam Neary still emerged with his father’s advantage plus RAM’s handicap intact.
The smart money would have been on the more experienced Yelmer Buurman chipping away at Neary’s lead, but it was actually the 19-year-old who slowly edged clear during his composed 55-minute stint to ultimately take the chequered flag 15.9s clear.
Buurman brought RAM’s Mercedes-AMG home in a relatively lonely second place after the battle for third developed into a three-car battle between Jonny Adam, Marcus Clutton and Sandy Mitchell.
The latter’s 20s Success Penalty dropped Barwell’s #1 Lamborghini from third to seventh after the stops, but the reigning champion again demonstrated his pace by passing Lewis Proctor and Martin Plowman, setting Sunoco fastest lap and hassling Clutton throughout the final 10 minutes.
Before that it was Enduro Motorsport’s McLaren that had looked most capable of denying Adam, but the Scot remained resolute throughout his stint to maintain Beechdean AMR’s consistent start to the campaign. Just 0.7s covered the trio after two hours of racing.
Proctor completed the top-six in Balfe’s McLaren after also passing Plowman late on. But Team Parker missed out on a points-scoring finish after a gearbox issue side-lined their Porsche midway through Scott Malvern’s stint.