Video: Late drama hands Tillbrook and Clutton British GT victory

Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton remain in contention for the British GT title after taking victory at Brands Hatch following late drama, while Ian Loggie leads the standings ahead of the Donington Park finale. Luke Browning also heads the GB3 leaderboard having overturned his deficit to title rival Joel Granfors

An unexpected lead change two laps from the end, a collision involving the championship leader and a title battle finely poised all helped to create an intriguing British GT round at Brands Hatch.

Enduro Motorsport’s Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton claimed their second win of the season after being in the hunt for victory throughout the two-hour encounter, while an eventful sixth place for Ian Loggie means he heads to the Donington Park finale next month with a healthy points lead.

Loggie entered the Kent race with a confirmed 39-point advantage, the result of the previous Spa round having been made official after the UK’s National Court upheld Fox Motorsport’s appeal on Saturday just hours ahead of qualifying.

The RAM Racing team had already endured a difficult meeting up to that point, with Loggie’s planned partner Jules Gounon withdrawing from the event and replaced last-minute by Callum Macleod, while a crash for the sister car of John Ferguson and Ulysse de Pauw in free practice one damaged their Mercedes-AMG chassis beyond repair.

Loggie/Macleod qualified fifth but the Scot’s main title rivals James Cottingham and Lewis Williamson took pole with each crew set to serve 10 seconds and 15s of success penalties respectively.

Those longer pitstops would prove crucial as three safety-car periods in the opening 50 minutes meant any chance of creating a lead to negate the time loss was gone and it eventually played into the hands of Tillbrook/Clutton.

Richard and Sam Neary retired just two laps from the end after leading at Brands Hatch

Richard and Sam Neary retired just two laps from the end after leading at Brands Hatch

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Their McLaren 720S with no success penalty started on the front-row, with Tillbrook shadowing Cottingham during the opening hour but never looking likely to make a pass around the notoriously difficult Grand Prix circuit.

Behind, Richard Neary’s Abba Racing-run Mercedes occupied third having made an aggressive start from sixth on the grid, moving around the outside of Loggie into Paddock Hill Bend before diving to the inside of Alex Malykhin’s Redline Racing Lamborghini Huracan at Druids. Via contact, he barged his way ahead and, despite at times dropping back as he negotiated traffic, was on the rear of the Enduro McLaren when the GT3 pitstop window opened on 62 minutes.

Although serving the same amount of time in the pits, the Abba Mercedes with Richard’s son Sam now behind the wheel rejoined just in front of Clutton and in a net race lead, while Williamson’s 2Seas Motorsport Mercedes resumed only fifth.

The momentum between the leading duo fluctuated, the gap never exceeding more than 2s and at times coming down to mere inches with traffic playing an integral part as Clutton pressured his rival.

Neary Jr’s daring overtake between the battling GT4s of Seb Hopkins (Team Parker Porsche 718 Cayman) and Jack Brown (Century Motorsport BMW M4) down the Cooper Straight – which resulted in light contact with the former – in the final five minutes proved pivotal as Clutton was delayed behind the squabbling pair.

But, approaching the penultimate lap, the Abba Mercedes dramatically slowed and retired with a suspected fuel pump issue, allowing Clutton into the lead and victory.

Ian Loggie is on the cusp of the British GT3 title after finishing sixth at Brands Hatch

Ian Loggie is on the cusp of the British GT3 title after finishing sixth at Brands Hatch

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

An unlikely, and quickly closing, second was the Barwell Lamborghini of Adam Balon and Sandy Mitchell, which at one point had been facing backwards after Balon had been tipped into a spin by Loggie in the first hour. The pair had been battling over fourth when contact was made at Surtees, which damaged the RAM Racing Mercedes’ steering. It rejoined sixth and Balon ninth, but officials took no further action.

Their recovery was helped by a second safety car after Spa winner Nick Halstead had plunged his Fox Motorsport McLaren into the gravel in avoidance of the collision. A third caution period to retrieve Moh Ritson’s stranded Paddock McLaren 570S at Stirlings just before the hour mark closed the field up again, with Loggie having climbed to fifth and Balon sixth.

With no success penalties to serve, Mitchell leapt to third while the Century BMW M4 of Henry Dawes and ex-Formula E driver Alexander Sims was fourth despite having served a 5s penalty for two new drivers being in the car. They were then elevated to third by the flag.

Macleod initially resumed in sixth behind the Williamson Mercedes but, struggling with damage, dropped to seventh as Euan Hankey’s McLaren got ahead at Stirlings. Neary Jr’s demise promoted the Mercedes back to sixth at the finish, just ahead of Scott Malvern’s Parker Racing Porsche 911.

Despite serving a drivethrough penalty for passing Neary Sr before the startline on the first safety car restart – caused by the stranded Motus One Mercedes – and eventually retiring, Malykhin and James Dorlin clinched the Silver-Am title.

British GT4: Safety cars aid Topham/Turner as Williams/Fielding fall short

Darren Turner/Matt Topham were never headed after taking the lead in second hour

Darren Turner/Matt Topham were never headed after taking the lead in second hour

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

A second outright victory of the year for Matt Topham and Darren Turner at Brands Hatch has edged them closer to the GT4 title despite the best efforts of chief rivals Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding.

Topham’s Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage remained within touching distance during the opening stint having started seventh, as three safety-car periods prevented Williams in the polesitting Stellar Motorsport Audi R8 from pulling out a much-needed gap.

Jamie Orton in the Team Parker Porsche 718 Cayman had been the big mover at the start, climbing into second from fourth and proving something of a cork in the bottle as Marco Signoretti (Academy Ford Mustang), Tom Edgar (Toyota Gazoo GR Supra) and Jamie Day (R Racing Aston) all made attempts at passing.

Signoretti fell out of contention with a puncture having been shuffled back in the pack, while Moh Ritson’s Paddock McLaren was eliminated after being pushed wide at Sheene Curve by Edgar. The McLaren suffered wheel damage and Ritson ended his race in the Stirlings gravel a lap later, which necessitated a third safety-car period that only ended two minutes before the GT4 pit window opened.

Williams, Edgar and Topham stopped immediately but, with 14s less to serve due to being a Pro-Am pairing, Turner resumed with a gap of 20s over Bobby Trundley in the Team BRIT McLaren. Fielding, in for Williams, rejoined in a net third place but soon moved ahead of Trundley and progressively closed the gap to Turner.

Day, meanwhile, had stayed out, passing Orton with a neat switchback at Surtees and even took the overall race lead as the GT3 field pitted. Relaying to team-mate Josh Miller towards the end of the pit window, the car initially dropped to a net fifth place after serving a 20s success penalty.

Rejoining just behind the Porsche of Hopkins, in for Orton, the pair both caught and passed the McLaren of Trundley in the final 16 minutes – Hopkins out of Clearways and Miller a lap later into Druids.

Out front, Turner was never headed, although Fielding closed the gap to within 5.3s by the flag, despite a hair-raising moment for the Audi driver while being lapped by Marcus Clutton’s McLaren at Westfield, which resulted in contact. Topham/Turner now sit 12.5 points above Williams/Fielding in the standings.

GB3: Advantage to Browning with one round left

Luke Browning holds a championship lead of 15.5 points heading to the final round

Luke Browning holds a championship lead of 15.5 points heading to the final round

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Even with no victory to his name across the weekend’s three races, Luke Browning took a crucial lead in the GB3 Championship with a battling display at Brands Hatch against title rival Joel Granfors.

Both championship protagonists, though, were relegated to the role of supporting cast in qualifying as Elite’s Tom Lebbon secured a brace of poles from JHR Developments’ Matthew Rees. It was Rees, however, who occupied the pole slot for race one, Lebbon demoted five places having carried over a penalty from the previous round at Silverstone for a yellow-flag infringement.

Rees charged into the lead at the start, while front-row starter Granfors bogged down and was passed by both Browning and John Bennett before repassing the latter into Druids. The Fortec driver then looked to the outside of Browning at both Surtees and Hawthorns on the opening lap, but had to slot into third as difficulty overtaking on the Grand Prix layout meant little changed in the running order over the 14 laps.

Rees withstood the constant presence of Browning, and a light sprinkling of rain, to secure his maiden series victory as Granfors completed the podium. Elite’s Bennett was fourth and team-mate Lebbon sixth, behind Arden’s Nico Christodoulou.

The most impressive action had been from Carlin’s Callum Voisin, who started at the back after crashing in qualifying. He finished ninth having made exceptional overtakes around the outside at Hawthorns.

Tom Lebbon took his third GB3 win of the season

Tom Lebbon took his third GB3 win of the season

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

Lebbon started from his hard-earned pole in race two and went on to claim his third win of the season with a lights-to-flag performance while, behind, Browning once again got the better of Granfors. Running around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend and Druids, the Hitech GP driver had the inside line for Graham Hill Bend and the position. Third quickly became second as Rees made light contact with the rear of Lebbon, slowing his momentum and allowing Browning to go on the outside through Surtees and the inside for Hawthorns.

Granfors followed through but ran slightly wide at Dingle Dell, allowing Rees back ahead into Sheene Curve. The top four thereafter remained unchanged until the flag, while Arden’s Alex Connor and Bennett completed the top six as Voisin only made it to 13th from the back.

The teenager was involved in a heavy crash at Hawthorns on the opening lap of the reversed-grid race with Max Esterson, which brought out the red flags. Esterson’s Douglas Motorsport team-mate Marcos Flack had led but was put to the back of the restarted race for jumping the initial start, allowing Chris Dittmann Racing’s Branden Oxley to win from Hitech’s Cian Shields.

Further back, there was drama in the title battle, as Granfors suffered a damaged front wing on the first lap, which eventually failed completely and required a pitstop, as Browning finished ninth. It means the Briton, who trailed Granfors before the meeting, now holds a 15.5-point lead heading to the Donington Park finale.

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

Matthew Rees took his maiden GB3 victory in opening race

Matthew Rees took his maiden GB3 victory in opening race

Photo by: Jakob Ebrey

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