2018 British GT Championship Oulton Park Race 1 - Race Photography

History was made today as Flick Haigh became the first woman to ever take an overall victory at a British GT event. It was the #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin, driven by Haigh and Jonny Adam, that took the first victory of the season from pole position. A close fight with the #33 Demon Tweeks Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan consumed most of the race, but an on-track incident in traffic saw Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen drop off the podium. A wheel-to-wheel fight at the end of the race finished with Andrew Howard and Darren Turner taking a second-place finish for the Beechdean AMR's return to British GT. Lee Mowle and Yelmer Buurman had to settle for the bottom step.

The #72 Track-Club McLaren 570S GT4 took glory in class with the first win of the season. Fagg and Michael O'Brien took third place in their Tolman Motorsport 570S, whilst the #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 got in between the two McLarens.

Due to the weather conditions, racing was stabilised as the first four laps were completed under the safety car. Once the green flag came out, it was all eyes on Haigh as she shot off into the distance, gaining a five-second advantage on the rest of the grid. After fighting through traffic, Minshaw managed to make gains on the pole-sitter and was only just over a second behind when the pit window opened.

Haigh dove straight into the pits, whilst Minshaw held out for an additional lap. In the end once the drivers had swapped, Adam was just able to beat Keen out of the pits, but it was close and soon the cars were running nose to tail.



Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini Huracan, GT3, #33, Jon Minshaw, Phil Keen, <br />
British GT <br />
Oulton Park <br />
Cheshire <br />
Great Britain <br />
© Race Photography

Keen looked to have the pace advantage, bringing down Adam's lead quickly as the two weaved through traffic. However, a misjudgement overtaking one of the GT4 Ginettas saw the Lamborghini squeezed off the track and pick up some front wheel damage. Forcing Keen into the pits, the battle for the victory was off as he fell down to fifth. Keen managed to regain forth by the chequered flag, with a fastest lap of the race (1:44.032), but Adam took the victory with a 26-second advantage on the rest of the field.

Towards the end of the race, attention was on the #99 Beechdean and #116 ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG GT3 as they fought wheel-to-wheel for second place. Buurman looked like he was going to demote the returning Aston Martin, staying under half a second off the rear wing of the #99, but it wasn't to be as the pair crossed the line barely apart, Turner just managing to hold onto the second step.

Reigning champions in the #1 Team Parker Racing Ltd Bentley Continental GT3 state before the race that their car did not perform well in the rain. Although they started on the front row, the wet weather did not do them any favours and they were down in thirteenth, last of the GT3 cars, at the end of the 60-minute race.

The McLaren 570S GT4s appear to be strong around Oulton Park, as they were the cars on the move throughout the race. #55 HHC Racing started on pole, but was no match for the impressive pace of Adam Balon and Ben Barnicoat in #72.

After the round of pit stops, it was a three-way McLaren battle for fifth in class as the #501 Balfe Motorsport was under pressure from the #5 and #56 Tolman Motorsport. The top four were happily out of reach of the battling trio, so had no threats from behind. It was a tight battle between the three for fifth place, with Joe Osborne managing to get up to sixth-place passing the Tolman sister car, but the Balfe Motorsports crew were able to just hold on to the place for the chequered flag. Will Moore had an unlucky early exit from the race in his #62 Academy Motorsport, as he was forced off the track a few laps after the race had gone green. He spun off straight into the tyre barrier, going in nose first and gaining severe damage to the front of the car. It made it back to the pits, but a quick diagnosis put it into the garage. Hopefully the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 will be fixed in time to take on the second race of the day this afternoon.

Balfe Motorsport, McLaren 570S, GT4, #501, Graham Johnson, Mike Robinson, <br />
British GT <br />
Oulton Park <br />
Cheshire <br />
Great Britain <br />
© Race Photography

The #50 HHC Motorsport was the only other car not to take the chequered flag. It pitted with a technical issue with five laps to go. The #66 Team Parker Racing Ltd. Mercedes-AMG GT4 nearly didn't take the start of the race as it failed to get going when the cars left the grid for the formation lap. Beginning the race a lap down, it did take the chequered flag, but Nick Jones and Scott Malvern could get it no higher than thirty-third.