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Griffin and Butcher claim opening British GT spoils at Snetterton

Sunday, August 23 2015

Oman Racing Team's Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher salvaged their title hopes with a superb victory in the opening Avon Tyres British GT Championship race at Snetterton today (Sunday), whilst ISSY Racing's Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw achieved a similar feat in GT4.

The pole-sitting TF Sport Aston Martin of Andrew Jarman made a great getaway at the rolling start as the two Oman Racing Team Vantages disputed second place, followed by Andrew Howard's Beechdean Vantage, the VonRyan Racing McLaren of Ross Wylie, the second TF Sport Aston Martin of Derek Johnston, and the title-leading Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Marco Attard. Further back, the sister Team Russia Car, driven by Jon Minshaw, suffered a puncture early on and dropped to the tail of the field.

The leading trio eked out a gap to the rest in the opening laps, with Howard heading a couple of cars a few seconds behind, whilst the Ecurie Ecosse and Triple Eight BMWs duelling in their slipstream. As the pit window approached, both Oman Racing Astons attacked the leader with a pair of brave moves at Coram whilst lapping Fulvio Mussi's GT4 Ginetta. This promoted Griffin to the lead of the race.

All except Ahmed Al Harthy pitted as soon as the window opened, and a demon stop from the VonRyan boys promoted Andrew Watson to the head of this group. When Al Harthy pitted, Alex MacDowall rejoined in the lead ahead of this group, where Butcher was trying to pass the McLaren in the second Oman Racing Team Vantage. The order behind these three was Jody Fannin (pole-sitting TF Sport car), Matt Bell (TF Sport), Jonny Adam (Beechdean) and Joe Osborne (Triple Eight).

Watson's defence of second place lasted a few laps until Butcher got a great exit out of Murray's on lap 21 and assumed the lead as they rounded Riches. Butcher then moved into the lead as the sister Oman Racing Team car of MacDowall left the road after being forced off the track at Murrays when lapping traffic. He dropped to sixth place, behind Osborne and an increasingly intense fight between Adam and the TF Astons.

There was worse news for Watson, whose team had mistimed their stop by three seconds, and forced to make a stop-go penalty. He rejoined ahead of Alexander Sims in the title-leading Ecurie Ecosse BMW, and the pair squabbled over sixth place, before Sims decided to get physical with the Ginetta of Mike Simpson, incurring the wrath of the stewards in the process.

Butcher built a useful lead in the later stages, enough to put the result beyond doubt, whilst Fannin brought the pole-sitting car home in second, just ahead of its sister car, Adam and, just a couple of seconds further back, Osborne.

In GT4, Yusuf (ISSY Lotus) headed Will Moore (Academy Aston Martin), Mussi (Fox Ginetta), Graham Johnson (Optimum Ginetta) and Jamie Chadwick (Beechdean Aston Martin) at the start. As Yusuf began to pull away, Mussi had a moment at Riches, running wide whilst stalking Moore, and this dropped him behind Chadwick.

When the pit window opened, Johnson and Mussi remained in the car whilst the others pitted immediately. The Fox car retired almost as soon as Jamie Stanley jumped into it, leaving the net order as Kershaw (ISSY), Dennis Strandberg (Academy), Frederik Blomstedt (Century), Mike Robinson (Optimum) and Ross Gunn (Beechdean).

Kershaw built up a huge lead of more than 17 seconds over Blomstedt, who had passed Strandberg for second place, before they swapped the places back in the late stages.

Race two will take place at 16:30.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship Race one
1, Liam Griffin/Rory Butcher, Oman Racing Team, Aston Martin Vantage, GT3, 32 Laps
2, Andrew Jarman/Jody Fannin, TF Sport, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, +13.098s
3, Derek Johnston/Matt Bell, TF Sport, Aston Martin Vantage, GT3, +13.372s
4, Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam, Beechdean AMR, Aston Martin Vantage, GT3, +13.685s
5, Lee Mowle/Joe Osborne, Triple Eight Racing, BMW Z4, GT3, +15.655s
6, Marco Attard/Alexander Sims, Barwell Motorsport/Ecurie Ecosse, BMW Z4, GT3, +27.922s
7, Ross Wylie/Andrew Watson, VonRyanRacing, McLaren 650S, GT3, +38.572s
8, Mark Farmer/Jon Barnes, 22GT Racing, Aston Martin Vantage, GT3, +45.938s
9, Ahmad Al Harthy/Alex MacDowall, Oman Racing Team, Aston Martin Vantage, GT3, +1:06.416s
10, Salih Yoluc/Euan Hankey, VonRyanRacing, McLaren 650S, GT3, +1:06.954s

Raceday tickets for the British GT Championship at Snetterton on 22/23 August are available on the gate for £23 with free entry for under-13s. For more information, please call 0843 453 9000 or click here.