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British GT Race: Late drama as Clutton and Tillbrook win at Brands Hatch

Saturday, September 10 2022

Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton claimed a dramatic last gasp Intelligent Money British GT Championship victory on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit after late race heartbreak for father-son pairing Richard and Sam Neary this afternoon (Sunday).

The race was initially led by the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of James Cottingham and Lewis Williamson as the two-hour contest got underway with a rolling start towards Paddock Hill Bend. Cottingham was at the controls during the opening stint, and seldom looked under much pressure from behind despite Tillbrook maintaining close proximity throughout the first hour.

A series of safety car periods threatened to harm the progress of the leading cars, including one triggered by a collision between championship leader Ian Loggie in the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG he shares with Callum Macleod and Adam Balon's Lamborghini Huracan. This resulted in a trip to the gravel trap for Nick Halstead in the Fox Motorsport McLaren as he attempted evasive action.

Despite the stoppages, Cottingham retained the lead into the pit stop period but with the field bunched up closely, pit stop success penalties were always likely to play a key role in how the pack shuffled into the second half of the race. The leading car duly ceded the lead and crucially it was the Team Abba Mercedes-AMG of the Nearys which emerged at the head of the field with Clutton just behind having taken over from Tillbrook.

From here, the leading duo engaged in a tense battle of cat and mouse, with Sam Neary always seemingly just able to keep himself out of Clutton's clutches. Even with slower GT4 class traffic to negotiate, the Mercedes-AMG was always able to just maintain enough of an advantage to avoid presenting a clear overtaking oppurtunity.

With just under three minutes remaining in the race, it appeared victory was firmly in Neary's hands. But then, as the cars passed down the Brabham Straight, the leader slowed dramatically, enabling Clutton to move past. From there, the Enduro Motorsport McLaren held on throughout the race's remaining moments to take the chequered flag.

Disappointingly for the Nearys, their Mercedes-AMG was unable to complete the race at all, coming to a devastating halt in the pit lane. This allowed Sandy Mitchell to move up to second in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini after recovering from co-driver Balon's earlier drama.

Mitchell attempted to pressure the leading Clutton in the closing moments of the contest, but there wasn't enough time remaining on the clock for any serious inroads to be made. The upsetting end to the Nearys' chase also enabled Alexander Sims to step onto the podium after returning to British GT for the first time since 2016. The former Formula E ace completed the rostrum with Henry Dawes after joining the Century Motorsport line-up this weekend.

After their early leading performance, Cottingham and Williamson finished fourth with Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt completing the top five in another McLaren after a solid run through the field.

Behind that, Loggie and Macleod secured a provisional sixth position as the former's championship pursuit continued. Macleod was under intense pressure throughout the second portion of the race from the Team Parker Racing Porsche of Scott Malvern and Nick Jones, but just managed to keep ahead. Malvern appeared several times to be sizing up an opening, but could never quite find a way through.

James Kell and Simon Watts finished eighth in the Team Rocket RJN McLaren, whilst the Neary Mercedes-AMG was classified ninth in the pits, just ahead of Jamie Stanley in the recovering McLaren he shares with Halstead.

Behind the GT3 contenders, there was a victory in the GT4 class for Darren Turner and Matt Topham in the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage. Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams were second in GT4 in the Steller Motorsport Audi, just ahead of Jamie Orton and Sep Hopkins in Team Parker Racing's Porsche 718 Cayman.

Intelligent Money British GT Championship, Race Result, Brands Hatch

1. Tillbrook/Clutton, Enduro Motorsport, McLaren 720S GT3, 78 laps
2. Balon/Mitchell, Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, +1.275s
3. Dawes/Sims, Century Motorsport, BMW M4 GT3, +13.820s
4. Cottingham/Williamson, 2 Seas Motorsport, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +14.965s
5. Flewitt/Hankey, 7TSIX, McLaren 720S GT3, +23.504s
6. Loggie/Macleod, RAM Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +33.346s
7. Jones/Malvern, Team Parker Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R, +33.958s
8. Watts/Kell, Team Rocket RJN, McLaren 720S GT3, +1m09.639s
9. Neary/Neary, Team Abba Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3, +2 laps
10. Halstead/Stanley, Fox Motorsport, McLaren 720S GT3, +3 laps

For full timings, click here.