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Bateman and Bell give new McLaren perfect British GT debut

Sunday, August 05 2012

The stunning McLaren MP4-12C of Charles Bateman and Matt Bell were the class of the field as they recorded victory with their new car in its maiden race in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Snetterton.

The United Autosports pairing started from fourth on the grid and had to work hard in the early stages of the race, battling with the Trackspeed Porsche of David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook, the Beechdean Aston Martin of Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam and the Motorbase Porsche of Daniele Perfetti and Michael Caine. However, once they found a way into the lead Bateman and Bell produced a faultless drive to take the flag from Perfetti and Caine.

The predicted showers stayed away from the Norfolk circuit and the drivers were welcomed by hot sunny conditions, perfect for producing great racing. Pole sitter Ashburn managed to hold on to his lead as the field burst into Riches for the first time, but he was pushed hard by the Beechdean Aston Martin and Batemen's McLaren. Before the end of the lap the lead changed as Howard dived down the inside at Murrays and the McLaren followed suit, leaving Ashburn in third just ahead of the Motorbase entry of Perfetti. However, Howard's lead was short-lived as Bateman surged past on lap two and he immediately began to build a lead. Elsewhere, the BMW Z4 of Alasdair McCaig and Ollie Millroy shot up to fifth from ninth in just three laps.  

Another car on the move was the RJN Nissan GTR of Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe and with Mardenborough at the wheel, he soon latched onto the back of the pack chasing the McLaren. In the GT4 Class Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes built up a comfortable lead after five laps.

With Bateman pulling away at the front, all eyes turned to an intriguing five car battle for second. Howard had been holding the position before a spin at Montreal saw him fall to seventh gifting Ashburn the spot. His Trackspeed Porsche was soon under attack from Perfetti in third but an over exuberant move from the Swiss driver saw him fall behind Mardenborough's Nissan and McCaig's BMW. The Nissan was the next car to challenge Ashburn and unfortunately the pair made contact which saw Ashburn drop to ninth and Mardenborugh fall to sixth. Subsequent mechanical problems for the Nissan saw them come into the pits to retire.

The top five except the leader Bateman soon came into the pits just minutes after the pit window opened along with the Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin Ferrari. The 458 exited the pits first securing a net second spot with the Motorbase car in third. Two laps later the McLaren came in and a slick stop saw them come out and regain the lead from Griffin in the Ferrari, but this was short-lived after the Mtech squad were handed a stop and go penalty. The pair took the penalty and rejoined the race in fourth.

Despite the best efforts from Newmarket's Caine in the Motorbase car, he was unable to reel in the McLaren, which allowed Bell to guide the car home to the flag by a comfortable 16 second margin, with Jonny Adam recovering the Aston Martin to third. In the GT4 class, problems for early leaders Fannin and Hughes allowed Lee Mowle and George Murrells to grab victory.        

The second and final Avon Tyres British GT race at Snetterton will begin at 16:45pm.       

Avon Tyres British GT Championship Race 1 Result Top 10

1. Charles Bateman/Matt Bell, United Autosports, McLaren MP4-12C 30 laps
2. Daniele Perfetti/Michael Caine, Motorbase, Porsche 997 RSR +16.276s
3. Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam, Beechdean, Aston Martin Vantage GT3 +16.726s
4. Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin, Mtech, Ferrari 458 +32.347s
5. Steve Tandy/Joe Osborne, Trackspeed, Porsche 997 RSR, +40.191s
6. David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook, Trackspeed, Porsche 997 RSR. +40.746s
7. Jon Minshaw/Tim Harvey, Trackspeed, Porsche 997 RSR, +43.474s
8. Alasdair McCaig/Ollie Millroy, Ecurie Ecosse, +49.464s
9. Marco Attard/Hari Prozcyk, Rino's Leipert Motorsport, +1 lap
10. John Dhillon/Aaron Scott, Scuderia Vittoria, +1 lap

The next major event at Snetterton is the British Touring Car Championship on 11/12 August. Tickets are available in advance from £25, with free admission for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.