On raw qualifying pace alone Will Burns and Gus Burton perhaps wouldn’t have been the odds-on GT4 favourites for Sunday’s race, but the duo produced a flawless display across a turbulent two hours to score victory and extend their championship points lead in the process.
And it proved to be a double celebration for Century, with Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke overcoming an early penalty to snatch second overall and Pro-Am victory in the sister BMW.
Starting from ninth, Burns and Burton had their work cut out to fight for the win, but it transpired that a lot of it would be done for them.
Matt Topham started the pole-sitting Newbridge Aston Martin and managed to avoid WPI’s spinning Lamborghini GT3 at Redgate to hold the early advantage ahead of John Ferguson aboard Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Supra and Will Moore in the Academy Mustang, who had put in a great opening tour to rise to third from sixth on the grid.
The first Safety Car interruption bunched the pack, and when racing resumed a blanket could have covered the top seven. And that’s when things took a turn. Topham was mugged by both Ferguson and Moore on the restart, and was then caught up in a multi-car clash at McLeans for which Chris Salkeld incurred a 10s stop-go penalty for causing a collision. The accident accounted for Mark Sansom’s Assetto Ginetta, Ashley Marshall’s Balfe McLaren and Alain Valente’s Team Rocket RJN 570S.
That summoned a second Safety Car, which again prevented anybody from building a gap. Ferguson assumed the lead in the Toyota but was under huge pressure from the chasing Moore, Burns’ BMW and Harry Hayek’s McLaren when the race again went green.
Burns managed to unseat Moore from second and then wasted little time in nipping past Ferguson for the lead into the Melbourne Hairpin. It looked set to be a tight scrap from then on, but once again drama intervened.
Having lost the lead, Ferguson was busy defending from Moore’s Mustang and Hayek’s McLaren. The flashpoint came when Hayek worked his way past Moore for third and then nosed ahead of Ferguson whose Toyota tagged the McLaren’s rear exiting Goddards. The impact half-spun Hayek into the innocent Mustang which also retired as result of the impact.
With everything kicking off behind him, Burns was left clear to streak into a near 10s lead ahead of Jordan Collard’s Team Rocket RJN McLaren by the time the pit window opened.
Burns stayed out as late as possible to maximise the gap, and when he handed across to Burton for the final stint, he re-joined with a comfortable six-second margin and the contest was essentially over. Burton would eventually cross the line a full lap clear.
That left the fight for second, which was far less clear cut. James Kell took over from Collard and held the spot for much of the stint before some right-rear damage sustained early in the race began to take its toll. The team suspects the deranged exhaust may have damaged a wire, leading to an electrical slowdown that started to cost Kell chunks of time late on.
Kell was powerless to defend from Gordon-Colebrooke, who’d taken Century’s #9 BMW over from Salkeld and done a great job to bring it back up the order after the penalty. Gordon-Colebrooke eventually swept past into Redgate to secure Century a dream one-two.
With Kell struggling, Jamie Stanley brought the Fox Motorsport McLaren he shares with Nick Halstead into the final podium place after previously scrapping with Gordon-Colebrooke. Ciceley’s Mercedes-AMG recovered from a spin to finish fourth in the hands of Dave Whitmore and Jake Giddings, while Kell and Collard had to settle for fifth.