Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw completed a dominant weekend at Spa-Francorchamps today (July 11) after converting pole position into their second Avon Tyres British GT Championship victory of the season.
The ISSY Racing pair’s Lotus Evora GT4 was never troubled en route to a 10.5-second victory, although it would have been more were it not for a wheel weight problem that affected the car’s balance.
Beechdean AMR’s winning streak came to an end but there was still plenty of points for Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn to take back across the Channel after guiding their Aston Martin Challenge GT4 to an equally untroubled second place. And AmDTuning.com’s Graham Coomes and Jake Hill completed a remarkable turnaround to finish third aboard their Porsche 911 after starting last.
Undoubtedly all three podium finishers were dealt a slice of luck just before the hour mark, albeit for different reasons. The second of the afternoon’s two full course caution periods undoubtedly favoured frontrunners Yusuf and Chadwick whose advantage was such that both found themselves ahead of the Safety Car once it had been deployed, allowing them to gain almost a lap on the field.
Coomes, who spun avoiding the same incident that prompted the caution after his stellar opening stint had helped the Porsche climb 10 places, immediately dived into the pits. And the time saved over the rest of the GT4 field, which had to stay out an extra lap, ultimately helped co-driver Hill then move further up the order.
The race’s second half proved much less chaotic with Kershaw, Chadwick and Hill circulating at some distance apart. Further back, though, it was Jamie Stanley who was on the charge after inheriting his Fox Motorsport Ginetta from co-driver Paul McNeilly in seventh. The 2010 GT4 champion eventually came home fourth to make it as many different manufacturers in the top four.
PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson came through to finish fifth ahead of the Pattison/Davenport Tolman Ginetta and Webster/Hart peddled #62 Academy Motorsport Aston.
Will Moore’s knack of carving through the field was in evidence once again over the opening stint after he fought from 14th on the grid to third before the stops. He and co-driver Dennis Strandberg were denied a shot at the podium, however, after incurring a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release in the pits.
There was disappointment for a number of teams, not least Century Motorsport who were struck down early with a gearbox issue that forced them out of third place. Likewise Twisted Team Parker whose afternoon ended in the Fagnes gravel.
After pacing FP1 UltraTek’s was another race that ultimately didn’t go to plan. But at least James Nash hinted at what might have been by winning the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Weekend award.
Yusuf and Kershaw’s victory has helped cut Chadwick and Gunn’s championship lead to 21 points, with Robinson and Johnson a further 26 back in third.
Oz Yusuf, #77 ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4: “Perhaps it looked under control but we were managing an issue towards the end. My stint was great – the Safety Car was part and parcel of that – and then Gavan was maintaining a good lead when there was a problem with the wheel weights, which badly affected the balance. We thought it might have been a puncture, but only Gaven would have the presence of mind to drive around the issue. We really have deserved this and it means a lot to all of us. Gavan has brought me on as a driver leaps and bounds. We work hard, take it seriously and have become a close unit. To win at Spa – my favourite track – and in the sunshine as well is just amazing!”
Ross Gunn, #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Challenge GT4: “We’re very pleased with second, especially as the Lotuses were on-form this weekend. We hoped reliability might play a part but in the end they were too quick. We didn’t really have any issues, just a little degradation at the end, but I managed it okay and am very pleased with another strong points’ haul. We need to keep having weekends like this. I’m chuffed to bits for the team.”
Jake Hill, #49 AmDTuning.com Porsche 911 GT4: “It was a stunning effort from everyone today after starting last following the qualifying issue with the bonnet. We knew we had the pace to come through after our FP2 performance; it was just a case of how many places we’d pick up! Graham did an amazing stint but then had the spin while avoiding the Team Parker Ginetta. Fortunately that worked out for us with the pit-stop timing and we were able to come through to P3.”
Round six of this season’s British GT Championship takes place at Brands Hatch on August 1/2.
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