Subscribe

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe

Video: Adam/Cottingham rise to the top amid British GT incidents

Thrills and spills headlined British GT's away day in Algarve last weekend, but it was a familiar car at the front of the pack as Jonny Adam and James Cottingham came out on top to cement themselves firmly at the head of the championship.

They say it’s calm in the eye of a storm, and last weekend’s British GT three-hour away-day in Algarve was indeed a stormy affair. Numerous incidents and three safety car interruptions – one of which lasted half an hour – jumbled the order, yet out the other side came the most likely of winners who, amid all the drama, put in a typically calm and classy performance.

Even as the mayhem was going on, the 2 Seas Mercedes-AMG of championship leaders James Cottingham and Jonny Adam was favourite for much of the way, even if the crew had to overcome a 15-second success penalty from the previous round. The stats underline their status as British GT3’s class act this season. It was the pair’s third win of the year – no one else has more than one – while the victory meant Adam equalled Phil Keen’s mark of most British GT wins with 19.

Even better for Cottingham and Adam, both of their closest challengers in the table – Darren Leung and Dan Harper (Century BMW M4) and Ian Loggie (2 Seas Mercedes) – failed to amass big points following in-race penalties. It meant, in one stroke, Cottingham/Adam’s championship lead has stretched from 5.5 points to 28, with only two rounds – and two helpings of 37.5 points – remaining.

Read Also:

From the off, Cottingham – starting second – hounded poleman and early leader Miguel Ramos, the multiple GT champion making his British GT debut in the Garage 59 McLaren 720S. Yet what proved vital to the Cottingham/Adam win followed the half-hour safety car period, which was triggered by Tom Rawlings’ Paddock Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 parking and catching fire.

Competitors pitted in dribs and drabs with some held by a red light at the pit exit, while the safety car had to be replaced as the first one developed a technical problem, further adding to the confusion. In the interim, all were told to proceed at a sedate 80km/h (50mph), with some continuing to lap at this reduced speed even after the new safety car appeared.

It shook up the order and somehow put RAM Racing’s John Ferguson into first place. But, when green-flag racing resumed, the ever-potent Cottingham quickly climbed the order and, in a repeat of the preceding round at Snetterton, tried to take the lead from a stubborn Ferguson.

John Ferguson led for RAM Racing, but had to concede to the faster James Cottingham

John Ferguson led for RAM Racing, but had to concede to the faster James Cottingham

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Yet Cottingham did get past with a brave move around the outside of one of the Algarve circuit’s many quick infield turns. In an instant, Ferguson went from foe to friend from Cottingham’s point of view, as the Mercedes driver proved to be the cork in the bottle for those chasing as Cottingham made a rapid escape. His advantage sky-rocketed, by as much as 4s a lap and, by the time Cottingham pitted to hand over to Adam for the final stint, his lead was nearly half a minute.

Even after another safety car intervention closed everything up, the 2 Seas win never looked in doubt. “The team’s done a great job with the set-up, we changed a few things overnight and it really worked,” Adam said. “We’re really happy, good place in the championship, nothing much more to ask for really. I was a bit nervous [seeing Cottingham battle Ferguson] but, at the same time, his racecraft is very good. One eye on the championship there but his move was epic, probably the best I’ve seen this year.”

About the only time in the three hours that Cottingham/Adam didn’t look the most likely for victory was after the first safety car when Pro drivers took over the wheel. In that stint, Harper in his BMW simply flew and sailed past many rivals including Adam to take a net lead. However, a 30s stop/go penalty awaited Harper as under the preceding safety car he had passed a number of GT4 cars emerging from the pits at the first turn.

The BMW had a few subsequent cards fall its way, and in fact finished fifth, just 9s from victory. It was one place behind the RAM Mercedes of Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello, which had started down the order and served a 20s success penalty. Loggie in the other 2 Seas Mercedes – this time sharing with Keen as Jules Gounon was racing in IMSA – finished sixth after Loggie picked up a track-limits penalty.

The Optimum McLaren of Mark Radcliffe and Rob Bell was second home. The team employed a contra strategy that went its way, particularly when the final safety car was deployed as the car was making its last pitstop. Bell just held off Sandy Mitchell’s Barwell Lamborghini that continued the Huracan EVO2’s improved recent form. Barwell, though, was one of many to rue a setback in this one, as a breakdown in radio communications meant the car pitted a lap late under the first caution period and lost several places.

The herald of a new Century winner in GT4

Chris Salkeld and Michael Johnston took their first win in British GT

Chris Salkeld and Michael Johnston took their first win in British GT

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

The British GT4 race at the Algarve circuit had even more twists and turns than in GT3, with the dynamic of the race lending itself to Pro-Am duos – their minimum pitstop time 14 seconds shorter than Silver Cup rivals at each of the three scheduled stops.

And so it proved as Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld took a freshman win in their Century BMW. Salkeld is in his third year of British GT and this year he’s been joined by his friend Johnston, with whom he has a mentoring relationship. They’ve been quietly effective during 2023, and in Portimao they were rewarded with the first British GT win for both of them.

The GT4 pit strategies largely split down the middle during the three-hour race, and it was left until the final stops for things to shake out. While the polesitting R Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Silver duo Josh Miller and Seb Hopkins looked well placed, Johnston/Salkeld kept in range, knowing their final pitstop would be shorter, and were helped even more by the Aston crew having to serve a success penalty from the previous round.

With the stops done, Salkeld was first but with Hopkins just 12s behind as 50 minutes still remained on the clock. Hopkins ate the gap up and it appeared set for a grandstand finish until, with 15 minutes to go, Hopkins hit Ignazio Zanon’s Raceway Ginetta when trying to lap him. Hopkins pitted to repair the damage, rejoined and was classified 10th in GT4 after he got a post-race penalty for the incident.

That left Salkeld free to bring it home, not far ahead of Enduro’s Harry George and Darren Burke – newly invigorated after switching to a Mercedes-AMG from a McLaren Artura.

“Pretty unbelievable,” Johnston said. “I’m in my second-ever season in racing. The first time I was ever on slick tyres was the start of this year. We’ve been pretty quick all year and it’s not quite come together, so to win outright – what a feeling. We nailed the strategy and we were both quick.”

With that result, Johnston and Salkeld jump to second in the table, but some distance behind runaway leaders Jack Brown and Charles Clark. The Optimum McLaren pair had an outside chance of sealing GT4’s crown in Portugal, but this prospect was dashed early as the other Century BMW, driven by Carl Cavers, hit it in the rear. The McLaren not only had to pit for repairs, but it wasn’t very competitive subsequently in its taped-up state and ninth place was all it could muster.

A lap down in third, Aston Millar and Josh Rowledge completed the podium aboard their DTO-run McLaren, ahead of Ian Gough/Tom Wrigley (Race Lab McLaren) and James Townsend/Mike Simpson (Toro Verde Ginetta).

Boardley brace puts him into TCR UK points lead

Carl Boardley won twice at Knockhill to claim the TCR UK points lead

Carl Boardley won twice at Knockhill to claim the TCR UK points lead

Photo by: Jim Moir

With two wins out of three, Carl Boardley enjoyed almost the perfect weekend as TCR UK returned to Knockhill for the first time since 2018.

Coming into the weekend 29 points adrift of Bruce Winfield at the top of the standings, Boardley knew he needed to turn in a strong performance, particularly with Winfield weighed down by having to carry an extra 40kg for the trio of races.

He duly delivered with a dominant 11-second victory in Saturday’s opener before charging through the field in the second race from 10th, only to be denied victory by a track-limits penalty. Having taken pole for the final bout, Boardley stayed true to form to complete a near-perfect outing.

“I’m pretty speechless at the minute to be honest, we’ve come here and rocked up knowing the car was in a good place,” said the Cupra Leon Competicion driver. “The car was pretty much 100% where I wanted it, we made a few little tweaks race-by-race and I was able to just go out there and deliver consistent laps and bring it home.”

Not only did Boardley assume the overall lead in the points, but he also takes a handy dropped score advantage heading to the next round at Silverstone in August. For Winfield, it was a case of what might have been. Starting eighth, he limited the damage with fourth in race one, profiting from track-limits penalties for two drivers in front.

Contact and a subsequent puncture at Butchers on the opening lap of the reversed-grid contest, which was won by Area Motorsport’s Alex Ley, dashed any hope of gaining on Boardley. Then seventh in race three for the Hyundai i30 driver means Winfield trails Boardley by 36 points before dropped scores.

Reports by Graham Keilloh and Stephen Brunsdon. 

Want more reports from the world of national motorsport? Subscribe today and never miss your weekly fix of motorsport with Autosport magazine

Be part of the Autosport community

Join the conversation
Previous article Why gambling on innovation is worth the risk in national motorsport
Next article Slater rebuilds his Autosport National Driver Rankings advantage again

Top Comments

Sign up for free

  • Get quick access to your favorite articles

  • Manage alerts on breaking news and favorite drivers

  • Make your voice heard with article commenting.

Autosport Plus

Discover premium content
Subscribe