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Haigh and Adam win at Brands Hatch to lead British GT

Sunday, August 05 2018

Optimum Motorsport's Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam claimed the lead of the British GT Championship with a well-deserved victory in their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 on the legendary Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit this afternoon.

Haigh immediately claimed an early lead of the two-hour race from pole position, with the similar Aston Martins of Andrew Howard and Graham Davidson in close proximity behind, with the Lamborghini Huracan of erstwhile championship leaders Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in fourth.

Haigh was followed closely by Howard during the initial exchanges, but that didn't last long as she extended her lead and left the chasing back behind her until the advantage was well in excess of 10 seconds.

Whilst Haigh dominated overall proceedings at the front in the GT3 class, the GT4 class was contested in its early stages by the Century Motorsport BMW M4s with Ben Green leading from Jack Mitchell.

Unfortunately for Haigh, her advantage was to be wiped out on the 18th lap when the safety car was dispatched following an off for the GT4 Ginetta of Graham Roberts. With the race neutralised, the pack closed up again.

The race resumed on lap 22 and Haigh immediately set about rebuilding her advantage with a storming start, whilst Davidson made an opportunistic pass on Howard to steal second and give chase to the leader.

The race wasn't resumed for long, however, as there was a heavy impact on the start-finish straight between the Jaguar of Paul Vice and the Ginetta of Mike Newbould in the GT4 class. The impact resulted in significant damage to both cars, and another safety car period.

Racing recommenced for a second time on lap 30 after nifty work from the marshals to clear the circuit, and it wasn't long before the pit stop phase kicked off as the leading GT4 runners were the first to dive into the pit lane.

Haigh came in and handed over to Adam on lap 33 and managed to stay ahead of main championship rivals Keen and Minshaw after pit lane traffic negated their pit stop success penalty. This meant that Adam led his group of cars out of the pits, with Turner, in for Howard, and Nicki Thiim just behind in an Aston Martin train.

The Lamborghini of Sam De Haan and Johnny Cocker stealthily took advantage of a quieter pit lane the next lap to steal what was effectively the lead of the race - the Bentley of Rick Parfitt led briefly whilst remaining on track.

It was all change in GT4 too, with the Balfe Motorsport McLaren of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson claiming the class lead during the pit stops.

There was real drama on lap 57 when Keen's Lamborghini slowed and pulled into the pits to retirement. This promoted Thiim to fourth and the Mercedes-AMG of Yelmer Buurman to fifth. Thiim was to climb the order further on lap 69, with an audacious dive on Turner at Paddock Hill Bend to ensure than he and Mark Farmer would share the third step of the podium.

Adam found his way past Cocker in the battle at the front later that lap. The Aston had shadowed the Lamborghini for a number of laps before finally securing the victory with a pass on the Grand Prix circuit at the exit of Westfield.

In GT4, Robinson held his lead until the chequered flag, but there was a thrilling battle behind as Martin Plowman (Nissan 370Z) and Scott Malvern (Mercedes-AMG) fought furiously over second position. Ultimately, both were jumped for second place at the finish by the flying Ben Tuck in the BMW which led early on, with Plowman taking the final step on the podium with his team-mate Kelvin Fletcher - better known as Emmerdale's Andy Sugden.

Result

1, Haigh/Adam, Optimum Motorsport, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, 73 laps
2, De Haan/Cocker, Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, +4.688s
3, Farmer/Thiim, TF Sport, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, +14.961s
4, Howard/Turner, Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, +19.232s
5, Mowle Buurman, ERC Sport, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +19.481s
6, Johnston/Sorensen, TF Sport, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, +20.009s
7, Loggie/McLeod, Team Parker Racing, Bentley Continental GT3, +31.040s
8, Johnson/Robinson, Balfe Motorsport, McLaren 570S GT4, +4 laps 
9, Tuck/Green, Century Motorsport, BMW M4 GT4, +4 laps
10, Fletcher/Plowman, UltraTek Racing Team RJN, Nissan 370Z GT4, +4 laps