At face value, victory after starting on pole sounds like a routine day for Seb Priaulx and Scott Maxwell. However, it was anything but for the #15 Multimatic Mustang which had work to do after the pitstops.
Priaulx, who also set Sunoco Fastest Lap, led the opening stint from start to finish ahead of fellow front row starter Scott Malvern and Matthew George, who jumped up three places from his grid slot. Two-second intervals separated the Ford, Mercedes-AMG and Jaguar, which circulated on their own out front.
That was party due to the fourth pace scrap that raged up until GT4’s pit window opened after 28 minutes. Josh Smith’s Tolman McLaren led a train of five cars featuring Martin Plowman, Luke Williams, Lewis Proctor and Angus Fender.
However, Race 1’s Success Penalties and the additional 14s served by all Silver Cup crews turned the order upside down once the pitstop cycle, which coincided with the second Safety Car period, concluded.
Malvern’s Team Parker co-driver Nick Jones now found himself out front ahead of Steve McCulley’s Jaguar, while the best-placed Silver – Scott Maxwell – was right behind the Ams once racing resumed. Both performed admirably against their Pro rival. Indeed, it was only Jones’ fading brakes that resulted in him losing the lead as well as an overall podium in the closing laps.
Both also dropped behind Graham Johnson whose Balfe Motorsport McLaren again made headway in both stints after Michael O’Brien started 13th. His co-driver’s shorter pitstop helped the 570S emerge in fourth before Johnson hounded Maxwell all the way to the finish en route to Pro/Am victory.
He was pursued until the final lap by Beechdean AMR’s Kelvin Fletcher whose own podium chances ended when he was tapped into a spin amongst traffic.
Jones and Fletcher both regrouped to finish fourth and fifth behind McCulley, while Tolman’s #5 McLaren shared by Proctor and Jordan Collard completed the top-six ahead of Tom Jackson and Luke Williams’ HHC 570S, Multimatic’s second Mustang shared by Jade Buford and Chad McCumbee, and the Track Focused KTM which recovered from its Race 1 retirement to come home ninth in Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper’s hands.
Patrick Matthiesen and Mike Robinson’s Optimum Aston Martin rounded out the points-paying places.
The Drivers’ championship remains wide open at this early stage: HHC’s Race 1 winners Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon share top spot with Maxwell and Priaulx, while just four points cover the first five crews.