Silverstone played host to the final round of the 2020 British GT Championship in the three-hour Silverstone 500 on Sunday as the titles were decided for this year’s championship.
The typical November low temperatures were similar to the penultimate round at Snetterton a month ago where the Pirelli tyres played a prominent role in the outcome with the day starting off damp but drying, which meant that all the cars got underway on the dry-weather compound.
As with the previous three-hour endurance race at Donington Park back in September, stint lengths were very much decided by tyre performance as well as diminishing fuel loads. When to make the third and final pit stop of the race was key to a successful race strategy and it was the drivers and teams that conserved their tyres the best that finished the race ahead of the rest of the field.
The team that did manage its tyres the best was the race winning GT3 #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo of Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard, which also took the overall Drivers’ and Team’s titles.
Collard put in a stunning qualifying lap on Saturday to take pole which kept the Lamborghini-supported team at the front for the majority of the race. However Mitchell was forced to give way to the sister Lamborghini of Phil Keen early in the second stint as it was on fresher Pirelli tyres, but then managed to make the most of the car’s reliable all-round package and superior performance to cut through the traffic to finish on top.
The Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman came second, followed by the Rocket Team Jenson McLaren of James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien taking the final podium spot.
Only 13 points covered the top three in the GT4 class ahead of Sunday’s race, with TF Sport’s Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan just leading the championship. However things got off to a poor start for both the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as Caroline and Vaughan, along with their title-challenging team-mates Patrick Kibble and Connor O’Brien, were both handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for running a red light in the pitlane during the opening safety car period.
This did not stop the two Aston Martin’s from fighting their way through the field, finishing a remarkable second and third respectively as Rob Wheldon and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke took their first GT4 class win of the season in their Century Motorsport BMW.
Caroline and Vaughan had waged a season-long battle with fellow AMR Academy members and team-mates Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble, who took two class victories, giving the team three class wins and a total of 12 podiums throughout the season. Ultimately the champions finished the season on 170 points with the sister TF Sport entry finishing third on 152.5 points.
The Vantage GT4’s success in Britain mirrors their successes on the continent. In GT4 America, Flying Lizard Motorsports and drivers Michael Dinan and Robby Foley won the Sprint Am Teams’ and Drivers’ titles and the SprintX Pro-Am Teams’ and Drivers’ championships.
Jonathan Wells, Pirelli UK’s motorsport manager commented after the race:
“Considering the tricky low temperature conditions experienced all weekend as you’d expect at Silverstone in November, our GT range has once again shown itself as a fantastically versatile package, allowing some great racing at an incredibly fast pace.
“Today, we saw the GT3 lap record around Silverstone being broken by the Barwell Lamborghini and the GT4 lap record by the Toyota GR Supra, which from a Pirelli perspective, is very satisfying.
“The 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. It’s been a short sharp season with great competition throughout, but the new season isn’t so far away, so preparations are already beginning for 2021.”
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of SRO Motorsports Group and Aston Martin
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