Tillbrook/Clutton take British GT victory as titles decided at Donington Park

Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton came out on top in the British GT season finale at Donington Park, but it was Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski who took the GT3 crown. Zak O'Sullivan also claimed the GB3 Championship in style over the weekend, while there was plenty of historic action at Silverstone.

Tillbrook/Clutton take British GT victory as titles decided at Donington Park

It was widely anticipated that Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski would convert their 18.5-point pre-race advantage into British GT title spoils at Donington Park, and they didn’t disappoint.

But it was a nailbiting race for the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini pair, who have Enduro Motorsport’s breakout winners Marcus Clutton and Morgan Tillbrook to thank for keeping RAM Racing Mercedes rivals Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie off the top spot that would have tipped the balance in their favour. Fourth place was enough, just, for Lind and Machitski on a day when their Huracan was, for once, not really in the fight.

“It was horrific, because it was totally out of our hands,” said Barwell commercial director Chris Needell. A relieved Machitski admitted: “I’ve never rooted for a competitor as much as I did in the last 30 minutes. I think I aged 10 years!”

The Enduro McLaren hadn’t finished on the podium all year – its previous best of fourth came in the July Donington race – but it was in the hunt all weekend, despite a patchwork crew with many of its regular hands on Indianapolis 8 Hours duty.

Clutton laid down a mark of intent by lapping just 0.006 seconds slower than pacesetter Phil Keen (WPI Lamborghini) in the Pro qualifying session, while Tillbrook was third quickest of the Ams behind Keen’s co-driver Michael Igoe and Richard Neary – enough for second on aggregate.

On a greasy track that been soaked for morning warm-up but was drying steadily, the entire GT3 field selected wets at the start. Tillbrook lost out to Neary on the exit of Redgate, but regained second when Igoe spun at the Old Hairpin in a classic case of the leader’s curse.

“You don’t realise how slippery it is until you’re actually there and, when I got there, it was too late,” said Igoe. Another spin one lap later as he attempted to fight back through the GT4 cars left Igoe stranded in the Coppice gravel and WPI’s slim title hopes gone. Such was his pace upon eventually rejoining, three laps down, that the team projected it could have negated its 20s pitstop success penalty…

Dennis Lind (l) and Leo Machitski claimed the British GT3 title at Donington Park.

Dennis Lind (l) and Leo Machitski claimed the British GT3 title at Donington Park.

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Neary led Tillbrook and Loggie until lap 19, when the RAM driver cannily boxed Tillbrook in behind a GT4 McLaren and bravely passed both around the outside into the Old Hairpin. Even with a success penalty of 10s to serve, Buurman rejoined – now on slicks – still in second, but found Clutton in a mood “to take some big risks” and unwilling to settle for third. “That proved critical, that’s what got me in the lead – once everyone got their bearings, there was nothing in it again,” Clutton said of his aggressive opening laps, including “doing a wet line on slicks” at Redgate.

On lap 39 of 70, Buurman was suckered into defending the wet inside line into the Melbourne Hairpin and ran deep. Clutton accepted the gift and set off after leader Sam Neary (in for his dad), who had lost most of his post-pitstop advantage with “a bit of a moment and quite a bit of traffic” on lap 40. “I lost quite a bit of time at the start, eventually the car got better but I just don’t think we really had the pace in those conditions to win today,” said Neary Jr.

After several attacks, the fired-up Clutton dived up the inside at Goddards on lap 45, making contact with Neary, who thought the move “wasn’t really on”, before powering ahead on exit. “He was the faster car today,” Neary Jr conceded.

The top three bunched together while lapping a returning Jordan Witt, but Neary wasn’t able to get another shot at Clutton before an excursion at Redgate dropped him behind Buurman. Try as he might, the Dutchman couldn’t get close enough to challenge before the race was halted when Jordan Collard’s GT4 car spluttered to a stop at Coppice with three minutes of the two-hour contest remaining. Loggie believed the two track-limits warnings Buurman had in reserve could have made a difference.

That meant Machitski and Lind were safe, despite the former’s struggles in the early stint while driving “to the limit that I was comfortable”. The 2006 champion forced his way past team-mate Adam Balon at Coppice on lap one, but lost time battling with Balon and Andrew Howard over fourth, then overshot the Esses and was nearly collected by Balon upon rejoining.

“It was really close,” said Balon, “but we didn’t touch.” Balon eventually got the move done when Machitski’s tyres overheated – he’d taken a different set-up direction after struggling with pressures that were too low for wet races at Snetterton and Oulton Park – but the Barwell twins swapped again through the stops. Lind emerged fourth ahead of Sandy Mitchell, the Scot fending off sustained pressure from Scott Malvern’s Team Parker Porsche to the end.

British GT4: Runner-up spot for Moore/Cowley after victory

Will Moore/Matt Cowley (Ford Mustang) British GT, Donington Park 2021

Will Moore/Matt Cowley (Ford Mustang) British GT, Donington Park 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Will Moore and Matt Cowley secured runner-up spot in the GT4 standings with their second win of the season at Donington, the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang pair denying Alain Valente and Michael Benyahia’s Team Rocket RJN McLaren a maiden win.

Valente and Benyahia have endured rotten luck this year and were long overdue a strong finish – they were denied a likely victory at Snetterton by a puncture, and missed out at Oulton Park with Benyahia’s ill-judged move on team-mate James Kell. But the McLaren “just didn’t have the pace for the win”, believed Valente, on a track where the Mustang has traditionally shone.

After Moore and Benyahia had both cleared struggling Richard Williams’s polesitting Steller Audi, Benyahia hit the front by passing Moore on lap seven. But as the track dried, both were usurped by a charging Will Burns, the title-winning Century Motorsport BMW continuing its record of leading every race this season with Burns’s 20th-lap pass on Benyahia.

The BMW had pulled a five-second gap by the stops but, with a 20s success penalty to serve, Gus Burton resumed third behind Valente and Cowley, a position he held until the end.

Valente gave his best to fend Cowley off but, despite serving 10s extra in the pits, the Mustang was an irrepressible force. “From the times, we knew it was fairly inevitable,” admitted RJN boss Bob Neville. Cowley dived through at the Melbourne Hairpin on lap 48 and Valente had no answer. “Sector one and sector three was OK, sector two I just lost too much,” he said.

Academy boss Matt Nicoll-Jones said: “We said to Matt, ‘Pull a gap of about three seconds and manage it.’” And manage it he did. Cowley was 2.5s to the good when the race was red-flagged, Jordan Collard’s seventh-placed McLaren coming to a stop at Coppice with what Neville described as a recurrence of “a fault with using too much fuel” that the team thought it had addressed in qualifying.

The win for Academy lifted Cowley and Moore above the non-scoring Collard and Kell as a result, capping a strong recovery from two damage-induced DNFs in the opening three races – its drivers utterly blameless both times.

“We have had some raw luck this year, really bad, but we’re just over the moon with that,” summarised Nicoll-Jones. Despite finishing behind Pro-Am rival Fox Motorsport, Newbridge Aston Martin pair Matt Topham and Darren Turner claimed the sub-class title in fifth.

GB3 Donington Park: O'Sullivan secures title in style

Zak O'Sullivan (left, Carlin), GB3 Championship, Donington Park 2021

Zak O'Sullivan (left, Carlin), GB3 Championship, Donington Park 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

“Five weeks we’ve been waiting for this,” proclaimed a delighted Zak O’Sullivan after securing the GB3 Championship at the final meeting of the season.

His attempted pass for the lead on Luke Browning at the previous Oulton Park round had left him in the barriers, pointless and unsure if he had done enough to claim the title.

It turned out that the 16-year-old had – he went to Donington as champion-elect mathematically, with the number of competitors influencing how many points would be available for the fully-reversed-grid race, where a point is on offer for each position gained. With a maximum of 110 points up for grabs across the three races and a 112-point buffer over Ayrton Simmons, Carlin driver O’Sullivan was assured of the championship as he lined up for the opener, barring any indiscretions that might bring him a points penalty.

But the teenager took the title in style, claiming pole with a new championship qualifying lap record for the circuit, before battling side-by-side with Hitech GP’s Reece Ushijima through the opening corners, the pair repeating their fight at the same track from earlier in the season. Just as he had done then, O’Sullivan held top spot into the Old Hairpin, before going on to win by nearly a second.

“It’s great to get my first championship with the boys and girls in blue,” said O’Sullivan. “The early phase of the championship we were able to build a bit of a lead, and in the second phase I’ve been quite unlucky with a few DNFs and it’s been championship management since.”

Ayrton Simmons (Chris Dittmann Racing) GB3 Championship, Donington Park 2021

Ayrton Simmons (Chris Dittmann Racing) GB3 Championship, Donington Park 2021

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Behind the leading pair, Roman Bilinski took another podium in his Arden-run machine after avoiding a multi-car collision between Sebastian Alvarez, Christian Mansell, Simmons and Roberto Faria at McLeans on the opening lap, from which Alvarez retired. The chaos allowed Simmons’s Chris Dittmann Racing team-mate Branden Oxley to finish an impressive fourth from 10th on the grid.

O’Sullivan’s intention to “have some fun” in a wet race two came to pass when, from third at the safety car start, he deposed Bart Horsten at the Old Hairpin before diving for the lead past Ushijima at the Melbourne Hairpin and checking out.

While Ushijima held on for second again, 7.389s in arrears, Horsten (Hitech) lost third to Mansell (Carlin) after running wide at Coppice on the final tour. Simmons took fifth with one of the overtaking moves of the year, hanging on around the outside of Bilinski at Coppice. Bilinski finished sixth before a 6s penalty for an opening-lap collision with Alvarez dropped him to ninth.

Focus turned to second place in the standings for the fully-reversed-grid race, with Simmons and Mansell tied on points and Ushijima five behind ahead of the final race for the current Tatuus chassis.

Any hope for Ushijima disappeared along with the air in his right-rear tyre on the opening lap, while Mansell finished 14th after colliding with Javier Sagrera. Simmons, minus left-front-wing element, took 10th, while O’Sullivan finished his championship-winning season eighth from 21st on the grid.

At the head of the field, Fortec’s Mikkel Grundtvig repeated his reversed-grid win from earlier in the season at Donington. The Dane led from pole, while Alex Fores and Frederick Lubin completed the rostrum.

Silverstone HSCC: Jackson triumphs after frenetic FF1600 finale

Cameron Jackson (centre, Winkelmann WDF2) Historic FF1600, Silverstone 2021

Cameron Jackson (centre, Winkelmann WDF2) Historic FF1600, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mike Walker

Three fiercely competitive Historic Formula Ford 1600 races settled the title in favour of Cam Jackson and his Winkelmann during the Historic Sports Car Club’s annual Silverstone Finals meeting.

Five cars ran wheel to wheel for much of the opener on Saturday. Tom McArthur managed to outbrake himself into Brooklands and fell away from the pack, but not far enough that he couldn’t drag himself back into contention. As Horatio Fitz-Simon, Jackson and Linton Stutely battled furiously, all the time McArthur was closing back in as the three leaders tussled and slowed themselves down.

On the final lap, McArthur’s Titan caught the group and doors opened, allowing him to dive through to take a remarkable but unexpected victory over Fitz-Simon, Jackson, Stutely and the chasing Samuel Harrison. “If they’d not been fighting, I wouldn’t have caught them,” said McArthur. “It was great fun!”

It was even closer at the end of the afternoon on Saturday when the quintet ran wheel to wheel to the flag. It got so close on one lap at Becketts that Fitz-Simon lost his Merlyn’s nosecone against the back of McArthur’s car. But it didn’t slow his pace and somehow Fitz-Simon managed to stay ahead in the frantic dash to the line, where five cars were covered by a second.

On Sunday, the track was wet and Jackson and Fitz-Simon edged clear. But they were disqualified for passing a backmarker under yellow flags and so Stutely, after a time-consuming trip through the Luffield gravel, inherited victory in his Royale.

Graham Fennymore claimed the opening Historic Formula Ford 2000 race despite intense pressure from Benn Simms and series returnee Tom Smith, having a guest race in Graham Ridgway’s Reynard SF78. Smith missed second gear off the line and that was enough of a handicap to leave him chasing his rivals.

On Sunday, Simms drove a blinder to fend off Fennymore for all but the last 300 yards. Even a red flag and restart couldn’t unsettle Simms, but a last-lap backmarker helped Fennymore get up alongside. They went wheel to wheel through Luffield for the last time, and Fennymore’s SF81 had the inside line to win the drag race to the flag by the thickness of a coat of paint.

Graham Fennymore (Reynard SF81) Historic FF2000, Silverstone 2021

Graham Fennymore (Reynard SF81) Historic FF2000, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mick Walker

Not to be outdone, the Classic Formula Ford races were every bit as good, with Jordan Harrison and Henry Chart setting the pace. Harrison won the opener to clinch a well-deserved overall crown after a fine season in his Lola T540E, while Chart’s Van Diemen RF81 won on Sunday by just 0.07 seconds after an awesome contest.

Ben Tinkler was right in there until a spin at Brooklands dropped him to fourth behind Rick Morris. Will Plant settled the ’70s Road Sports crown with another accomplished victory in his Morgan +8 as his father Richard rode shotgun in his similar car. Jim Dean did all he could in a bid for another title with his Lotus Europa, but had to settle for a class win and third overall.

Not content with his frontrunning Historic Formula Ford pace, Fitz-Simon also tackled the pair of Formula Junior races in Mike O’Brien’s Lotus 22. He took to the Junior like a duck to water and loved the whole experience as he won the opener in commanding style from Clive Richards’s similar machine, after a mid-race safety car. On Sunday’s wet track, Richards skilfully took his revenge in a close battle.

Rory Smith has got his Ralt RT4 working better than ever and was able to take a resounding win in Saturday’s Aurora and Geoff Lees Trophy race. Over the early laps, Mark Charteris put his F2 March 742 firmly in contention with Smith but, as the race progressed and the March started to understeer, the newer Ralt edged clear. On Sunday, Samuel Harrison (Dallara 389) went for wets and battled ahead of Smith to lead, but was almost caught as the balance swung back towards the slick-shod Smith in the final laps. “I needed one more lap,” said Smith of his chase of the teenager.

Andrew Smith was a resounding double winner in Classic F3 and Tim Sims starred in the Historic Touring Car opener as he kept his Mini ahead on the damp track. Later, on a dry surface, Dan Williamson charged ahead in his Ford Falcon.

Reports by James Newbold, Stefan Mackley and Paul Lawrence. Pics by Jakob Ebrey Photography/Motorsport Images and Mick Walker. Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine

Tim Sims (Mini Cooper S), Historic Touring Cars, Silverstone 2021

Tim Sims (Mini Cooper S), Historic Touring Cars, Silverstone 2021

Photo by: Mick Walker

shares
comments
British GT champion Lind considered retiring after losing Lamborghini works status
Previous article

British GT champion Lind considered retiring after losing Lamborghini works status

Next article

Ex-F1 driver Moreno to make Formula Ford Festival comeback

Ex-F1 driver Moreno to make Formula Ford Festival comeback
Load comments
The consistency that brought Barwell back-to-back British GT glory Plus

The consistency that brought Barwell back-to-back British GT glory

Never finishing lower than fifth, Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind’s peerless consistency paid dividends in 2021 as British GT’s decision to drop the Silver class yielded the same outcome as in 2020 - a Barwell-run Lamborghini sweeping to the title. Autosport reviews the GT3 and GT4 classes, and picks out the year's best drivers

National
Nov 23, 2021
How 2021's TOCA support titles were won Plus

How 2021's TOCA support titles were won

There were all the usual thrills and spills among the BTCC support series this year and plenty of impressive performances along the way. Autosport recaps how the five championships were won and ranks the top 10 drivers

National
Nov 14, 2021
The other finely-poised 2021 battle that could face a decisive swing Plus

The other finely-poised 2021 battle that could face a decisive swing

There’s just a handful of events remaining in the national racing season, but it’s still very much all to play for in the battle to secure the most wins in 2021. Cam Jackson and Miles Rudman currently heading the classification ahead of a potentially crucial weekend of national racing for Autosport’s National Driver Rankings

National
Nov 6, 2021
How 50th anniversary Festival reminded the world of its charm Plus

How 50th anniversary Festival reminded the world of its charm

Big names were back on track and in the grandstand for the 50th Formula Ford Festival last weekend, which served to remind the world of the knockout contest's enduring appeal - even if it is unlikely to return to its former status as a must-win event on the single-seater ladder

National
Nov 3, 2021
The key early victory that could challenge UK junior racing's hegemony Plus

The key early victory that could challenge UK junior racing's hegemony

The decision to allow 15-year-olds to race in MSV's new low-cost GB4 championship in 2022 poses a challenge to the position of British F4 - previously the only UK-based series where drivers below the age of 16 could compete. Whether the two can co-exist is the next pertinent question...

National
Oct 29, 2021
Memories from Formula Ford Festival greats Plus

Memories from Formula Ford Festival greats

Ahead of this year’s 50th edition of the legendary contest, we speak to some of those involved in some of the best contests over the years

National
Oct 28, 2021
The other title battles to be decided at Brands Hatch this weekend Plus

The other title battles to be decided at Brands Hatch this weekend

The finale of the British Touring Car Championship always provides plenty of drama, but its support series are also set to produce many twists and turns at this weekend's last round. Unusually, all five titles are still up for grabs, so it's all to play for at Brands Hatch. Here's how each series' showdown is shaping up

National
Oct 22, 2021
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021