Barwell’s Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind put the disappointment of Donington Park behind them by bouncing back into the Intelligent Money British GT Championship lead with a commanding victory at Spa-Francorchamps.
They were joined in the winners’ circle by Balfe Motorsport’s Jack Brown and Ashley Marshall (McLaren) who overcame steering damage to beat Newbridge Motorsport’s Matt Topham and Darren Turner. The Aston Martin took the chequered flag first but had 30s added to its race time in lieu of a drive-through penalty for multiple track limits infringements. Championship leaders Will Burns and Gus Burton (Century Motorsport, BMW) completed the podium.
Ahead, WPI Motorsport’s Lamborghini driven by Michael Igoe and Phil Keen finished second overall, albeit 48s behind Barwell’s Huracan, while Balfe’s Stewart and Lewis Proctor scooped Silver-Am honours in third.
Pole. Fastest lap. Victory by almost 50s. And back on top of the championship standings. It’s fair to say Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind rather enjoyed their Spa mini break on a weekend when their title rivals suffered mixed fortunes.
The two-hour race began with a literal bang even before the field had reached La Source when Richard Neary’s fast-starting Mercedes-AMG went for a gap between Ian Loggie and Adam Balon that rapidly diminished. The contact ended Team Abba Racing’s hopes there and then, RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG was forced to pit for lengthy repairs, and Barwell’s Lamborghini emerged relatively unscathed. However, the same incident triggered further contact that also eliminated Team Rocket RJN’s GT3-spec McLaren and one of its GT4 entries.
Racing resumed 15 minutes later with Machitski leading Andrew Howard and Stewart Proctor who’d risen to third from sixth as a result of lap one’s incident. And the battle between Balfe’s McLaren, Michael Igoe’s Lamborghini and the Huracan of Adam Balon would prove one of the most exciting throughout the opening hour.
Try as they might the two Lamborghinis could not find a way past the determined Proctor who remained in touch with Howard despite the unwanted attention from behind. There was a little respite when the Huracans swapped places – Balon taking advantage of Igoe’s mistake at Pif Paf before relinquishing fourth on the run towards Eau Rouge – before Igoe’s focus shifted solely to Proctor when his pursuer took a trip through the Campus gravel trap.
Up front, Machitski had already pulled 20s clear of Howard when Beechdean AMR brought their Aston Martin in one minute before GT3’s pit window opened. The time lost and subsequent 10s Success Penalty ensured the battle between Balfe and WPI would now most likely decide who finished second.
The two cars exited the pitlane as they had entered it with Lewis Proctor fractionally ahead of Phil Keen. The McLaren’s straight-line speed had kept it out of the Lamborghini’s clutches throughout the opening hour, but when GT4 traffic baulked Proctor through Eau Rouge Keen used his extra momentum to draft past along the Kemmel straight.
By that point Lind was already more than 40s up the road after setting his third Sunoco Fastest Lap in four rounds. The presence of three squabbling GT4 cars, which temporarily boxed in the Lamborghini, was his only cause for concern during a lonely but very effective stint that resulted in his maiden British GT victory, as well as Machitski’s first since 2006.
WPI’s title ambitions were also boosted by finishing second, while Balfe’s McLaren completed the overall podium.
Behind, Beechdean recovered from its pitstop indiscretion and a stop-go penalty to narrowly beat Barwell’s second Lamborghini. Sandy Mitchell threw the kitchen sink at Ross Gunn over the final 25 minutes but simply could not find a way past the Vantage. 30s was ultimately added to the reigning champion’s race time for track limits violations but it mattered little given RAM Racing’s patched up Mercedes-AMG took the chequered flag eight laps down.
Indeed, the team worked wonders to ensure title contenders Loggie and Yelmer Buurman at least scored some points on a day when the championship battle took another twist.