Snetterton was the setting for the penultimate two rounds of this year’s shortened British GT Championship and it was a thriller, producing more new winners as well as the first double winner in the GT3 and GT4 classes. The British weather added to the excitement as wet conditions tested the drivers, cars and performance of Pirelli’s Cinturato WH tyre on the damp Norfolk circuit.
As with all wet races, the right tyre choice could put you at either the front or back of the grid, as freezing cold conditions and a drying track in Race 2 meant that tyre strategy played a key role in an increasingly tense fight for the title.
In Race 1 for GT3 cars, Jordan Witt and Jack Mitchell claimed their first win of the season in their 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren and in so doing, became the eighth different winner in as many races this year. Witt’s superb start from third on the grid enabled him to take the lead after just two laps of the race, which he and his teammate were able to maintain once the mandatory pit-stops were over.
Meanwhile Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard of Barwell Motorsport, got to within one point of the championship lead after Mitchell edged Ollie Wilkinson’s McLaren to the line for second by just 0.081s.
The circuit was still wet for Race 2; however, the cooler track temperatures and lack of wind made the conditions far more predictable with Phil Keen taking the initial lead after passing Barwell Lamborghini team-mate Sandy Mitchell around the outside of Riches. Keen and his team-mate Adam Balon managed to stay out in front for most of the one-hour race, despite Balon’s lead being threatened by the chasing Ram Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3 of Ian Loggie. Mitchell and Collard had to settle for a lowly fifth place finish following a disappointing race for the pair.
The title fight in the GT4 class saw a couple of new winners in Race 1 as TF Sport’s Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan took their maiden British GT victory to move them into the series lead. HHC Motorsport dominated qualifying, with Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen beating Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers. The race got under way in grid order, but Caroline’s superior second stint drive meant that their Aston Martin Vantage GT4 crossed the finish line over 17 seconds ahead of the second placed car.
Caroline and Vaughan’s win in Race 1 meant that they held a 9.5-point advantage over their nearest challengers in Race 2, the McLaren of Collard and Matthiesen. But the McLaren produced a sensational second stint following the mandatory pit-stops and was by far the faster car in the closing stages of the race.
Following the two races Jonathan Wells, Pirelli UK motorsport manager, commented:
“This weekend was a real test for not only the teams and drivers given the very tricky track conditions, but also for Pirelli as the championship’s tyre supplier. The teams had to work hard to find the right level of performance in the cold and wet conditions, with the Cinturato WH tyre designed to cope with a wide range of vehicle architectures and also different circuits and weather conditions. As always in motorsport, this is a balancing act and the teams certainly had to push their boundaries to make things work, but in the end we had a fantastic weekend of racing with very close competition.”
Round 9 of the 2020 British GT Championship takes place at Silverstone on the weekend of the 7th and 8th November.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs by Mike Hoyer/JEP