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2017 British GT – Snetterton Rounds 4/508/08/17
Barwell Motorsport left Snetterton celebrating yet another successful British GT weekend as both Lamborghini Huracans picked up even more points, extending our leads in both the Drivers and Teams Championship standings. Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw took their third consecutive victory in the Demon Tweeks-backed car at the Norfolk circuit in round four of the championship, having been twice victorious there last year. Also enjoying a great weekend were team-mates Sam Tordoff and Liam Griffin, who were present on both race podiums on Sunday. Tordoff followed Keen to the chequered flag aboard the #6 Gardx Protection Huracan in Race 1, whilst co-driver Griffin finished Race 2 P2 - promoting them to fourth in this year’s driver standings. As we pass the halfway point in this year’s British GT calendar, Keen and Minshaw continue to lead the driver standings with 101 points each, whilst Barwell Motorsport heads to Silverstone with a sizeable 46-point advantage over TF Sport in the Teams series.
Having taken a double victory here last year, Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen were confident of repeating their 2016 success, after qualifying 2nd and 1st for Rounds 4 and 5 of the 2017 British GT championship respectively. Minshaw started alongside Jack Mitchell in the #24 Macmillan Aston Martin, whilst teammate Liam Griffin in the #6 car lined up P4 after a strong qualifying session. The GT3 field remained unchanged in Race 1 until the pit stop window opened at 25-minutes, with Barwell’s Sam Tordoff emerging ahead of the #31 Bentley in P3, behind teammate Phil Keen. Both pro Barwell drivers were quick to dominate, lapping quicker than the lead Aston – now driven by James Littlejohn. Keen snatched victory on the 27th lap having quashed the Aston’s 14-second lead; attention then turned to Tordoff in the #6 car, who over the next 2 laps had leveled Littlejohn’s lead. Side-by-side into turn 3 – the Huracan on the outside, Tordoff’s manoeuvre was a flashback to his touring car days, as he charged past the Aston down towards Agostini. Brilliantly executed overtakes from both pros ensured a 1-2 finish for Barwell.
Phil Keen led Race 2 from the outset after starting on pole, successfully defending against TF Sport’s Jonny Adam’s attack on both Barwell Lamborghinis into turn 1. Although Tordoff was knocked into third, the former BTCC racer remained nose to tail with Adam’s Aston, sticking within a second of last year’s champion over the opening 18 laps. By the pit window open, Keen had built up an impressive lead of 9 seconds on Adam, having repeatedly lapped over half a second quicker than Aston before pitting at the halfway point to hand over to co-driver Jon Minshaw. Minshaw rejoined P1, despite #33’s success penalty, followed by Derek Johnston - now aboard the #1 TF Sport, and Liam Griffin in the #6 Lambo, who had also incurred a success penalty from race 1.
A safety car deployment looked to threaten Minshaw’s lead, however Johnston found himself stuck behind two GT4 cars; Minshaw’s clean release gave him an immediate 2 second advantage. Unfortunately, his lead was to be rescinded after #33 was issued a drive through penalty, Minshaw emerged P6 behind Mitchell’s #24 Aston post-penalty – which in turn promoted team-mate Griffin to P2. Despite his best attempt at a final lap recovery, Minshaw took the chequered flag sixth, taking Keen and Minshaw’s points haul from Snetterton to a total of 33 each. Liam Griffin ended the hour P2, giving Griffin and Tordoff their second podium of the day, the duo taking home a critical 36 points each from the weekend. Phil Keen was also present on the second podium to receive the Sunoco Fastest Lap award, having set a new Snetterton British GT lap record in Race 1: 1:48.498 – an improvement of 8/100ths on the previous lap record, set by Keen last year.
There was even more cause for celebration, as the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy of the weekend was awarded to a well-deserving Liam Griffin for his double podium. Griffin added: “What a fantastic weekend we had, which resulted in a great accumulation of championship points meaning we’ve closed the gap to the guys in front – so hopefully we can build on this weekend’s success over the rest of the season”.
Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen continue to lead the 2017 drivers’ standings by 23.5 points (101 points each), whilst Griffin and Tordoff’s performance this weekend promotes them to 4th in the championship (69 points each). Barwell Motorsport collected 61 points from Snetterton, taking this year’s total to a notable 170. The next round of the 2017 British GT Championship will be Silverstone’s 3-hour race on June 10th-11th.