Win, podium and Team of the Weekend crown at this year's Silverstone 500
Charles Clark and Jack Brown claimed the top step on the GT4 podium at this year’s British GT Silverstone 500, with fellow Optimum full-season GT3 entrant, Mark Radcliffe and Rob Bell securing third place overall after starting tenth on the grid for the three-hour enduro. The Wakefield-based outfit’s effort saw Optimum Motorsport claim the Team of the Weekend crown.
Intelligent Money’s British GT Silverstone 500 if often referred to as the series’ ‘Big One’. Why? Well not only is it based at the Home of British Motorsport but also sees many one-off entries (such as Optimum Motorsport-run Inception racing) enter the grid. Throw in a mixture of rain, abandoned qualifying sessions and Safety Cars then you have yourself an action-packed weekend of racing.
It wouldn’t be a British GT race if rain weren’t to ruin play, and Saturday’s qualifying session had been affected for that very reason. No sooner had the session gone green for the GT3 entrants first of two 10-minute qualifiers (where an average from the two fastest laps from each driver were to be calculated), both the Optimum and Greystone GT McLarens spun off at Chapel, causing the first of two red flags.
Beechdean’s Aston Martin Vantage repeated the same feat moments later once the session has resumed - causing not only another red flag, but also for the entire qualifying to be abandoned. Thus, as per the regulations, results from Free Practice 2 set the grid for Sunday’s race.
Both GT3’s started up in the top 10, with Charles on the front row in Optimum’s GT4 come Sunday afternoon. It was a clean start for all and after just 12 minutes into the blue riband event, Charles’ lead in the #90 Artura had stretched to over 3.5 seconds.
The first round of pitstops were to be triggered after just 15 minutes when the Safety Car was deployed for debris which had been scattered after Garage 59, Team Parker and RACELAB’s entries had been in contact. All three Optimum-run cars boxed first the first driver changes before the restart.
At the front of the field, it was Ben Barnicoat that jumped Neary in the Mercedes-AMG for second. This is where teams’ strategies began to diverge as many decided to pit their Pros to allow for the Ams to increase their driver time. Ben remained at the wheel of the McLaren, seeing him build an advantage as he headed into the lead, but this prevented Brendan from completing his minimum driver time.
The American jumped in just before the second Safety Car period caused once again by debris out on track. The long Safety Car period turned the race on its head which ultimately, saw Inception’s race win chances ended as the team had to wait longer to complete their stints whilst other competitors, including the sister #27 Optimum McLaren and #90 GT4, were able to box whilst the field were bunched on-track.
Both Mark and Rob had made huge advances in the race, with Mark making many bold overtakes and moves across both stints and the latter holding off Gunn in the Beechdean AMR to cross the line just half-a-second behind Barwell’s Lamborghini Huracan.
Charles and Jack ran consistently near the front during the three-hour enduro, emerging as class winners after their closest competition, the #56 Ginetta fell short due to a string of penalties.
An incredible turnaround for the #27 crew which had sustained damage in the opening practice sessions, along with the GT4 victory earned the outfit the Intelligent Money Team of the Weekend Award.
The Intelligent MoneyBritish GT Championship resumes in just under three weeks’ time for the first of two races at Donington on May 28.