In a dramatic run to the finish line, Michael Caine and Almad Al Harthy claimed their second Avon Tyres British GT Championship victory of the 2013 season, in a battle to the Zandvoort finish line. Al Harthy had started the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche in pole position, and maintained his lead as the 29 car field filed their way through the opening corner. A safety car midway through his stint brought the field back together, and set up some frantic action in pit-lane.
With marshals repairing the barrier at the final corner after Rick Parfitt Jnr went off, the safety car was out for an extended period, and just as it did come in to pit lane for the restart, the window opened for driver changes. It was too late for Al Harthy who had to complete another lap, but once he’d handed over to Caine, the No.1 997GT3 was still in the lead by three-seconds.
Over the ensuing laps, Dan Brown in the 888 Optimum BMW reeled Caine in and with 10 minutes remaining, they were bumper to bumper. Also joining the fight was Rob Barff in the FF Corse Ferrari, who’d taken over from Gary Eastwood, and clawed his way onto the second placed Z4’s gearbox. With the time whittling down, the trio battled for the lead, until Brown attempted a pass on Caine through Turn One, aka Tarzan. However, although BMW made it inside the Porsche, Caine was able to take the lead back on the cut-back. As a result, Barff was able to follow Caine and move it to second, but then on the last lap, Brown jumped back into the runners up spot, passing the 458 Italia halfway around the circuit.
The Phil Dryburgh and Jon Gaw Aston Martin had made it into a potential podium position once their pit-stop had been completed. That was until Barff changed Gaw down and moved into third position, midway through the second stint. Collecting valuable points that could be key to the Championship title battle was Marco Attard and Oli Bryant. Their Ecurie Ecosse BMW collected fifth place ahead of Jon Minshaw’s and Phil Keen’s Trackspeed Porsche.
Mark Patterson and Matt Bell see their title hopes remain alive following their seventh position finish in the United Autosports Audi R8. What could prove particularly valuable is a late promotion by Bell, who passed Joe Osborne for the position in the closing stages of the race. Rounding out the top-ten, Warren Hughes and Rembert Berg claimed ninth position in the WRT Audi, ahead of Ron and Piers Johnson’s Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4.
In GT4, the Redgate Lifetime Ginetta of Matt Smith and Dan Eagling claimed the top spot of the class, ahead of Team APO Sport’s Alex Osborne and James May. Amazingly, the APO G50 had suffered a heavy impact in Friday practice, and required a major rebuild ahead of today’s race. Claiming the final step of the GT4 podium was Century Motorsports Declan Jones and Nathan Freke.
The second race from Zandvoort will start at 11AM(UK)/12PM(CET) tomorrow.