After a dominant win in the day’s opener PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Johnson and Robinson were made to work much harder in the second race. Indeed, that they did owed much to Walewska crashing out of the lead in the closing stages.
Robinson started on pole but was swallowed up by Simpson Motorsport’s Scott Malvern, who started alongside, and Generation AMR SuperRacing’s Matthew George on the run to Old Hall on lap one.
Malvern was able to pull out a small gap over his pursuers but wouldn’t reach the pit-stop window after power-steering failure sidelined the Ginetta. That promoted George into the lead, where he’d remain until handing over his Aston to British GT debutant James Holder.
A little further back a lightning first lap from Abbie Eaton, as well as Malvern’s subsequent retirement, helped the Ebor GT Maserati MC GranTurismo lie third and within striking distance of Robinson. The pair continued to circulate together never more than a second apart while maintaining a comfortable advantage over Nathan Freke’s Century Motorsport Ginetta.
Holder emerged from his stop with a small advantage over the chasing pack, but his inexperience on debut meant it wasn’t long before Walewska – who’d also made up two places through the pits – had taken the lead, before Johnson and Hoggarth also made their moves on the following lap.
What followed was 20 minutes of nose-to-tail racing between all three drivers. At least that was the case until the closing moments when Walewska, under immense pressure from Johnson, oversteered wide and into the Lodge barriers. With the Ginetta unable to be moved safely and so little time on the clock the officials took the decision to red flag the race with five minutes left.
That gave Johnson and Robinson their second win of the weekend, and third in four races, despite having to serve a 10 second pit-stop success penalty, while Hoggarth and Eaton’s Maserati scored what they considered to be an unlikely podium at a circuit where the MC GT hadn’t been expected to shine.
“The Aston made a great start while I got bunched on the inside, so it was a case of letting them go or having a big shunt!” said Optimum’s Robinson. “After that I tried to get my head down, especially given the 10 second success penalty we’d have to serve, but the guys ahead had mega pace.
“Thankfully I handed over with us still in the hunt, and after Graham passed the Aston he applied just enough pressure to force Anna [Walewska] into a mistake.
“I can’t believe what a great weekend we’ve had. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
The final step on the rostrum went to Rob Barrable and Aaron Mason, who secured RCIB Insurance Racing’s second third place of the weekend. The Ginetta pair had started only 11th but dodged the issues that affected others en route to both driver’s first British GT podiums, a feat especially impressive for double VW Racing Cup champion Mason who was making his series debut this weekend.
Speaking after the podium ceremony Rob Barrable said: “We always knew the pace would be there or thereabouts given Aaron’s experience.
“We gambled a bit and it paid off in the second race when the car felt really balanced. I think a lot of people underestimate how competitive this championship is. It’s so strong and it’s taken us a little while to get our head around it. But we’re getting there now.”
Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell brought the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4 home fourth after a tough weekend, while the second RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta driven by Jordan Stilp and William Phillips completed the top-five after the latter tangled with Holder’s Aston Martin, which retired as a result.
Beechdean AMR duo Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert finished sixth despite serving a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane infringement.
With GT4 laps slower in race two, Scott Malvern’s best time from the opener – a 1m43.915s – secured him the Sunoco Fastest Race Lap of the Weekend Award. His Simpson Motorsport outfit were also victorious, winning the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend prize for their efforts to rebuild their Ginetta on Saturday between Nick Jones’ free practice accident and qualifying, which allowed Malvern to set the second fastest time in his Pro session and lead race two.