Controversy in British GT at Rockingham Round

There was a controversial end to the third round of British GT at Rockingham when Spirit of Race Drivers Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin lost their top of the podium place to Team Parker Racings second place duo Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt. A much later post race ruling on contact between Griffin in the Ferrari 488 and Morris in the Bentley Continental was deemed to have been avoidable giving Griffin an unfair advantage. The move meant Griffin was penalised 26 seconds, enough to give the win to Morris and Parfitt.

 

The race began with pole sitter, TF Sports Derek Johnston maintaining the lead. The safety car came out when Harry Gottsacker’s Century Motorsport Ginetta became stuck in the gravel trap, when on the 5th lap the green flag dropped it was a battle between the top three; Johnston, Barwell’s Jon Minshaw and Macmillan AMR’s James Littlejohn who had earlier leapt from 9th to 3rd place. Meanwhile The Track Club Mclaren of Adam Balon and Adam Mackay took early retirement due to a hole in the charge cooler.

Rick Parfitt passed TF Sports Mark Farmer moving into 4th, while Minshaw got round Johnston with just 0.8 second between them. The battle between Farmer and Parfitt continued with Parfitt dropping back into 5th, however Farmer span out the Aston Martin Vantage before recovering but allowing Parfitt to move into 4th.

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Duncan Cameron meanwhile had earned a 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits, putting the Spirit of Race Ferrari further back in timing than it was on track.

The safety car was deployed again when the #43 Ginetta of Century Motorsports Steve Fresle went into the gravel, just ahead of the pitstops period. The Oulton Park pitstop success penalties were applied which then saw Macmillan AMR’s Jack Mitchell coming out ahead of Seb Morris.

Matt Griffin in the Spirit of Race Ferrari rejoined in 4th but quickly passed the AMDTuning.com’s Mercedes AMG, turning it into a three way race with Seb Morris and Jack Mitchell.

The earlier 5 second penalty delivered to Cameron meant Matt Griffin had to get past Seb Morris to take a win, in doing so the Ferrari made contact with the Team Parker Racing Bentley.

Griffin then went to pull ahead to negate the 5 second gap caused by the earlier penalty. However the Safety Car was deployed again after #63 Autoaid’s/RCIBInsurance Racing’s Ginetta went into the gravel. With MSA rules stating that a Safety Car must pick up the leader and despite Griffin leading on track the incurred penalty meant he was actually 5th in timings, thus the Ferrari was allowed to pass the Safety Car joining the back of the field immediately gaining a five second lead, quickly allowing the Spirit of Race team ANF_0356to finish with a 25.052 second lead on the Bentley of Seb Morris, with Jack Mitchell coming in third just ahead of the Barwell Lamborghini’s of Minshaw and Keen in third and Tordoff and Griffin in 4th.

 

In GT4 William Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton took their first podium for HHC Motorsport just shy of 10 seconds ahead of Black Bull Garage 59’s Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell, with PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson completing the podium.

Team ABBA with Rollcentre took the GT3 AM prize, Barwell’s Phil Keen received the Sunoco Fastest Race Lap Award, AMD Tuning.com’s Lee Mowle took  Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Day while Barwell won the PMW Expo Team of the Weekend Award.

At Oulton Park in the last rounds, Team Parker Racing’s Ian Loggie in the Bentley was involved in an incident with Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing’s Richard Neary, both cars suffering extensive damage which resulted in Loggie being disqualified from the weekend, fined and given a 5 place grid penalty that took effect at Rockingham. With further controversy garnered at Rockingham in the series, it remains to be seen whether any fallout will be carried forward to Snetterton on May 27th-28th

On the Spirit of Race Ferrari being allowed to pass the Safety Car Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici said the following: “What happened today with the Safety Car procedure was very unfortunate but, given the letter of the regulations, not something we could have controlled. We follow the MSA’s regulations which state the Safety Car must pick up the race leader, which in official timing was not the #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Race Control therefore had no choice but to wave it by. Applying in-race time penalties contributed to this but these are the rules by which we and others race under the MSA’s jurisdiction. Today we found an anomaly, which will be investigated fully. One way or another there must be changes to avoid this situation from arising again.”

Allison Remzi            Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick