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Balon and Keen surge to British GT victory at Snetterton

Sunday, May 19 2019

Adam Balon and Phil Keen claimed outright and GT3 class victory in the opening British GT Championship race of the day at Snetterton behind the wheel of their Barwell Motorsport prepared Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO this afternoon (Sunday).

The winning car was constantly in top-five contention in Balon's hands throughout the opening segment of the race before Keen emerged from the pit-stop window behind only the BMW M6 of Jack Mitchell, which had circulated second early on in the hands of pole-sitter Tom Gamble. 

Just as the battle for the overall lead was heating up, Mitchell was forced to pull out of the fight and slow down as the car suffered a techincal problem. From that poind, Keen commanded the race to win by an eventual 13.5s margin from the Bentley Continental GT3 of Glynn Geddie and Ryan Ratcliffe. 

Geddie was the early race leader after negotiating concertina traffic jam at the Wilson hairpin on lap one, and built an early lead he would hold until the pit stops.

Others weren't so lucky early on in the race, including the Aston Martin V8 Vantages of Andrew Howard, who was pitched off amidst the early jostling, and Mark Farmer who shot across the grass in an evasive manoeuvre. Richard Neary was the most unfortunate of all in his Mercedes-AMG, making it just two corners into the race before retiring with impact damage. 

As Keen controlled the latter half of the race, Ratcliffe had to fend off an ever growing queue of cars for second position, headed by the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin that Bradley Ellis took over from Ollie Wilkinson, and Rob Bell in the McLaren he co-drives with Shaun Balfe. 

The Ellis Aston Martin was removed from the equation by a stop-go penalty for a pit-stop infringement, whilst the unfortunate Bell was sent flying off the track and to eventual retirement after contact with a backmarker.

This left British GT's record race-winner Jonny Adam to spearhead the pursuit of Ratcliffe behind the wheel of the Aston Martin he co-pilots with Graham Davidson, with Seb Morris right behind him in the Bentley Continental he shares with Rick Parfitt Jnr.

Morris passed Adam on lap 29 with their scrap allowing Jonny Cocker to bring his and Sam De Haan's Lamborghini back into podium contention. The following lap, Morris got a messy run out of Agostini which allowed Adam and Cocker to attempt a pass on the Welshman but both failed to cement the move. 

As Keen waltzed to overall victory, Ratcliffe made a small mistake which forced a GT4 machine to slow and Morris made contact damaging the front end of this car. This allowed Ratcliffe to continue to the chequered flag unscathed whilst Adam and Cocker both pipped Morris on the final run to the line to secure third and fourth respectively.

Morris ultimately brought the Bentley home in fifth position ahead of the Lamborghini Huracan of Michael Igoe and Adam Wilcox which secured a stealthy sixth position. Ellis's Aston Martin ultimately came home seventh, just ahead of the simlar machine of Nicki Thiim which recovered to eighth after Farmer's eventful start to the race.

In the GT4 class, it was a win on debut for the Audi R8 LMS in the hands of Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding. Williams negotiated the eventful start to the race as class pole-sitter Scott Maxwell was involved with the action towards the rear of the GT3 field. 

After inheriting the lead, the Audi sailed to a comfortable victory from the McLaren 570S of Josh Smith and James Dorlin and the similar machine of Lewis Proctor and Jordan Collard.

GT3 result
1, Balon/Keen, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, 32 laps
2, Geddie/Ratcliffe, Bentley Continental GT3, +13.510s
3, Davidson/Adam, Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, +15.506s
4, De Haan/Cocker, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, +15.588s
5, Parfitt/Morris, Bentley Continental GT3, +16.520s
6, Igoe/Wilcox, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO, +31.862s
7, Wilkinson/Ellis, Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, +32.118s
8, Farmer/Thiim, Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, +32.532s
9, Paul/Green, BMW M6 GT3, +53.306s
10, Howard/Sorensen, Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, +1m03.679s
11, Gamble/Mitchell, BMW M6 GT3, +1m32.985s

GT4 result
1, Williams/Fielding, Audi R8 LMS GT4, 30 laps
2, Smith/Dorlin, McLaren 570S GT4, +3.633s
3, Proctor/Collard, McLaren 570S GT4, +9.095
4, Pointon/Macdonald, McLaren 570S GT4, +10.320s
5, Murfitt/Broadhurst, Mercedes-AMG GT4, +13.524s

Click here to view the full results for this weekend.