Following on from the opening round of the British GT held a few weeks back at Oulton Park which saw No 29 Ferrari win the first race and No 79 Eccurie Ecosse BMW take the second win. The next round of the series was held over the May Bank holiday weekend 4-5 May at Rockingham.
Prior to the weekends racing taking place, it was announced that Tom Onslow Cole and Paul White would be racing the no 21 Strata Aston Martin Vantage instead of the Nissan GT-R that it raced at Oulton Park. The M Sport Bentley team also announced that it would not take part in this race due to personal reasons causing Humaid Al Masood to withdraw from Oulton Park and as his issues continued into this race weekend they decided to withdraw from the round. In the GT4 Class the No 45 ABG Motorsport BMW driven by Declan Jones and Peter Belshaw also withdrew from the round in addition to fellow GT4 contender No 47 Silverstone Auctions Aston Martin.
The two hour race started off with No 79 Ecurrie Ecosse on Pole Position ahead of last year’s winner, the No 001 Beechdean Aston Martin and third went to No 23 United Autosport Audi. In GT4, Pole position went to No 42 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 driven by last years GT4 winner Rick Parfitt Jnr and Tom Oliphant. Tom Oliphant had to spend his time flying between Thruxton where he was competing in the BTCC and Rockingham for British GT. Sir Chris Hoy and his teammate Alex Buncombe achieved a good qualifying combined time to secure 8th.
For the start of the race the No 79 Ecurrie Ecosse led but as the pack darted into the corner No 80 Nissan driven by Hoy came off and No 12 trackspeed Porsche hitting the dirt and re-joining the pack further down the field.
With only fifteen minutes of the 2 hour race completed, the No 12 Porsche which was involved in the first corner accident pitted with an issue where the car appeared to be on fire. The car soon headed back on track after five minutes of the pit crew trying to sort out the cause of the fire. Whilst this was happening the No 40 Ginetta which was driven by White collided with a GT4 car which resulted in him pitting.
The lead of the race didn’t change much within the first 20 minutes. The race was led by No 79 BMW followed by No 888 BMW and No 1 Aston Martin.
The No 6 Aston Martin who at lap 10 was in fourth place but due to contact on turn two with No 4 Aston Martin it soon dropped down into 15th then after hitting the tyre wall having to rejoin. No 33 Demon Tweeks Porsche pitted at the 25 minute mark with a hole in the radiator and the car was pushed back into the garage to be worked on but never came back out. The No 2 Bentley was running well until it had contact with No 5 Aston Martin and spun at the last turn resulting in it dropping down into 13th position.
With a quarter of the race done, the race was still being led by No 79 BMW with a six seconds lead ahead of No 888 BMW. Third place was No 18 Ferrari who overtook No 1 Aston Martin. In GT4 Class the Lotus Evora came creeping down pit lane and then just stopped at the entrance of pit lane and just as the pit crew start to run to its aid it managed to spark back into life. The Lotus was the second car to be smoking and on fire with not even half of the race distance completed. The lotus managed to head back out onto track but made several pitstops.
The safety car headed out onto track at the half hour stage after No 41 Ginetta driven by Tania Mann headed out into the Gravel. No British GT race would be complete without the safety car making at least one appearance in the race. The Nissan Juke Safety car allowed the field to bunch up. At this point the leading five were no 79 BMW, 888 BMW, 18 Ferrari 458, No 1 Aston Martin and No 29 Ferrari 458.
More cars headed into the pits No 23 United Autosports Audi after it had made contact with No 407 Beechdean Aston Martin.
The Pit window opened at the 50 minute mark and first to pit were No 44 Porsche 911 and No 2 Bentley GT3. The race leaders started to follow suit as No 79, No 1, No 38, No21 , No 888 No 6 and No 48 all pitting at the same time. Chris Hoy who was running in 12th pitted to hand his car over to Alex Buncombe. For his first racing season I personally think he has exceeded all expectations of him and running alongside Buncombe could potentially give them a winning combination. As each race completes Hoy’s confidence seems to grow.
Not long after the majority of the cars had made their pit stop No 6 Aston Martin omits a mass of smoke at the start of the track and hits the gravel. As the pack settled back in the leader of the race at the one hour stage was No 18 Ferrari, No 4 Aston Martin and No 13 Ferrari completing the top trio. Last to pit was No 18 who took advantage of another Safety car situation.
With 50 minutes remaining the current GT4 leader No 42 Ginetta pitted with tyre problems resulting in it spending a huge amount of time in pitlane. Giving the lead to No 407 Aston Martin. However this was not meant to be as the team were given a drive through penalty for overtaking under Safety Car conditions. At this point the race was then being led by No 18 Ferrari driven by Barff ahead of No 79 BMW and No 29 Ferrari. The two Optimum Motorsport BMW’s 888 and No 8 were in 4th and 5th respectively. Tom Onslow Cole in his new 21 Aston Martin was in 6th ahead of No 1 Beechdean Aston Martin.
The leader No 18 Ferrari was given a drive through penalty due to a pitlane light infringement but still had an 18 second advantage. No 407 had an issue in their pit stop where they were unable to refuel properly which resulted in them re-pitting to complete the refueling and losing the GT4 lead to No 55 Ginetta G55.
With only fifteen minutes remaining the field seemed to settle down and the race was lead by No 18 Ferrari, No 79 BMW, No 29 Ferrari, No 888 BMW and No 21 Aston Martin in fifth.
The first car to take the chequered flag and win the two hour race was No 18 Ferrari ahead of No 79 BMW, No 29 Ferrari, No 888 BMW and No 21 Aston Martin. GT4 was won by No 55 Ginetta G55, No 407 Aston Martin and No 49 Aston Martin in third.
Our Photogrpaher Steven Roe attended the event and has included a selection of shots taken from the action filled Race.
Even though the No 29 Ferrari took the podium for third place it was relegated to 7th following a post-race penalty. This resulted in the top five being No 18 Ferrari, No 79 BMW, No 888 BMW, No 21 Aston Martin and No 1 Aston Martin