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2017 British GT – Silverstone Round 608/08/17
With both Lamborghini Huracan GT3 cars completing last weekend’s 3-hour Silverstone 500 event, the blue riband round of the British GT calendar, in the points, Barwell Motorsport retain their lead in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships. Both Barwell Am drivers Jon Minshaw and Liam Grifiin completed an impressive 70-minute opening stint each having started P4 and P8 respectively. Three pit stops and 180 minutes later, their pro counterparts took the chequered flag – Phil Keen finishing P4 in the #33 Demon Tweeks backed Lambo, and Sam Tordoff P6 for the Gardx liveried #6 Huracan. The Keen/Minshaw pairing thus hang onto their lead in the Drivers’ standings, with Griffin/Tordoff currently lying in fifth place after 6 of 10 races. Our performance at Silverstone was, however, certainly handicapped by a controversial BOP change which saw our Lamborghini Huracans penalised further and struggling for pace against the Bentleys and Aston Martins who both benefitted from the update.
Having started 4th for Sunday’s 3-hour epic, Barwell’s Jon Minshaw managed a remarkable initial stint of 1 hour 10 minutes, having gained a position within seconds of the green flag after a poor start from Duncan Cameron in the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari. The #33 Demon Tweeks machine was then pushed back to fourth after a prolonged assault from Ian Loggie’s #7 Bentley, which was demonstrating a significant straight-line advantage.
Renowned for being won or lost on team strategy, the Silverstone 500 enforces a maximum drive time of 100 minutes for any one driver with 3 mandatory pit stops per car. When Ian Loggie ran into the barriers at just over the 2-hour mark, the Barwell crews sprung into action, keenly awaiting the announcement of the safety car which would have enabled us to complete our final mandatory stop then and gain significantly on our rivals. However, the race surprisingly continued uninterrupted under local yellow flag conditions. Loggie’s incident meant that the on-track battle between the #33 ‘raging bull’ (Keen/Minshaw) and the #21 ‘prancing horse’ (Cameron/Griffin) for position intensified, with the final step of the podium now up for grabs in the last hour. The varying pit stop strategies meant a constant shuffle within the position chart, with third place swinging between Barwell’s Lamborghini and Spirit of Race’s Ferrari right up until the chequered flag, where Phil Keen finished P4 - just 7.8 seconds behind the Ferrari.
Liam Griffin, aboard the #6 Gardx Protection liveried Lambo for the race start also managed a monster opening stint of 66 minutes, immediately launching an attack on Mark Farmer in the #11 Aston. Then a spin for Neary in the #88 Mercedes promoted Griffin to P7 early on. 11 laps in and Griffin was once again tailgating Farmer’s Aston Martin, but despite his now degrading tyres, Liam managed to keep Neary – now charging to recoup his lost position, firmly behind him until #88 pitted. However, Griffin and Tordoff had their 15-second Snetterton success penalty to serve during the pair’s third mandatory pit stop, leaving pro driver Tordoff to contest the final 22 minutes. Having already managed 70 minutes, Tordoff rejoined the Silverstone 500 in P6, behind Martin Short – now aboard the #88 Merc. Sam put in his three fastest laps in that final window, but all whilst defending against fellow pro Jon Barnes in the #11 Aston. The #6 Lamborghini finished P6 after 3 hours – with Barwell the only team to feature twice in the Top 6, despite the additional weight carried by its Italian machinery. The weekend means Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff take more valuable points, keeping them in the hunt for the championship.
Barwell’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen continue to lead the 2017 driver's standings ahead of Team Parker’s Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr., as we now look forward to the championship’s European round at Spa-Francorchamps on 7th & 8th July . Last weekend’s British GT's Silverstone instalment has enabled Barwell Motorsport to widen its lead in the Teams’ Championship with a total of 200 points - a decent margin of 64 points on TF Sport.