Wilkins claims emphatic first win in Masters GT Trophy at Donington
Craig Wilkins proved to be the dominant force in the first ever Masters GT Trophy race, as the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo driver led the entire race bar the first few corners to win by a full lap from Sam Tordoff in the Porsche 997.2 Cup, the BTCC race winner having stormed up into second place after two laps.
“I was very lucky, with Aaron [Scott] dropping out”, said Wilkins. “To be fair, the car is new to me, I haven’t had a chance of driving it much. It’s a new series and I’m looking forward to racing it more often. I’m a gentleman driver, so I was getting comfortable in the car, slowly getting a feel for it. With more cars in the pipeline who knows if I will ever stand here again!”
“I had a little issue at the end so I had to manage the last few laps, but other than that I totally enjoyed that”, said Tordoff. “It’s been a long time since I raced a Cup car!”
The threat of the second Lambo shared by Neil Glover and Aaron Scott failed to materialise when Scott ground to a halt as he chased down Tordoff. This elevated Matthew Holme’s 997 Cup into third, but Dallas Carroll in the Porsche 991.2 Cup started by Marcus Jewell was all over his Porsche rival towards the end. However, Holme would not let his third place slip away and kept 1.2 seconds in hand across the line.
“It’s just a great car”, said Holme, “it’s such a pleasure to drive it!”
“You know, Aaron is not only my driving coach but the team owner as well”, said Wilkins. “I was looking to having a fight with him, although who knows what the conversation afterwards in our garage would have been!”
Ray Harris initially fought Alex Brundle in an intra-Ginetta battle but eventually ended up a lonely fifth in the lead G55. In sixth, Martin Addison prevailed over the delayed Chris Griffin to win the battle of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4s, with the George Haynes/Adam Sharpe BMW M3 GT4 and the Alex Brundle/Ron Maydon Ginetta up next.
It was 11.40am on the Easter Saturday when the first race of the inaugural Masters GT Trophy season got underway, the two Lambos leading away in front of the Porsches and the Ginettas. Craig Wilkins passed Neil Glover around the back to lead the first time around, with Sam Tordoff and Marcus Jewell in the chasing Porsches. Matthew Holme made it three Porsches in the first five, leaving Ray Harris to fend off Alex Brundle in the Ginetta shared with Ron Maydon. Meanwhile, Chris Griffin in the first of the Aston Martin Vantages had got past George Haynes in the BMW M3 GT4.
Three laps gone, however, Tordoff, Jewell and Holme had muscled their way past Glover while further back Martin Addison’s Vantage had also caught and demoted the BMW. At the front, Wilkins set the fastest lap of the race to lead by five seconds, while Tordoff had pulled out a similar gap to Jewell, Holme and Glover – those three separated by two seconds each. Brundle still harried Harris for sixth in their intra-G55 battle, while Griffin and Addison equally fought for the honour of prevailing Aston Martin.
As Wilkins continued to rattle off the fastest race laps, Tordoff’s lead over Jewell grew in similar style, the gaps between the top three now increased to eight seconds each on lap 7. Further back, Glover had dropped into the clutches of the two Ginettas as he himself tried to hang on with Holme’s Porsche. Griffin and Addison, meanwhile, had left Haynes’ BMW three seconds behind.
At the end of lap 10, with the pit window just minutes away, Wilkins led Tordoff by 10 seconds, with the latter now 12 seconds ahead of Jewell. 40 seconds down on the leader, the fight was still on for fourth, as Holme, Glover, Harris and Brundle continued to run in close order. Chris Griffin, however, was slowing and soon into the pits, just as the pit window opened. Harris was the first to stop, followed by Jewell, who handed over to Dallas Carroll. The rest stayed out for the moment as Wilkins again beat his fastest lap of the race to increase his lead to 17 seconds.
Addison was in next, as was Haynes, the latter handing over to Adam Sharpe. Now, Holme came in for his stop too, as did Glover, who would hand over to Aaron Scott. Tordoff pitted on lap 18 while Wilkins got down into the 1.06s. Both the leader and Brundle left it to their latest opportunity before pitting, Brundle handing over to Ron Maydon.
After the pit window had closed, Wilkins was still the leader, now with a massive 57-second lead over Tordoff, who in turn was chased by Scott – but not for long, as the second Huracán pulled off to retire. This handed third to Holme who faced the threat of Carroll being just four seconds down and closing. Harris in the Ginetta was fifth while Addison in the Aston Martin had got ahead of Maydon for sixth. Griffin in eighth had set his sights on the second Ginetta too.
With ten minutes still on the clock, Wilkins once more lowered his best-lap mark by producing a 1.06.8 on lap 25 before turning that into a 1.06.6 on lap 26. In fact, his pace was so stunning that the Lambo lapped the second-placed Porsche on the following lap. As the minutes wound down, Holme still clung on to third but Carroll was now less than two seconds adrift. Meanwhile, Griffin and Sharpe both managed to pass Maydon in their pursuit of Harris and Addison in fifth and sixth.
At the finish, Wilkins completed a dominant run by having a full lap in hand over Tordoff, as Holme’s defence proved impenetrable, the 997 Cup keeping the Jewell/Carroll 991.2 Cup behind by 1.2 seconds. Harris was a lonely fifth, a full minute ahead of the Addison and Griffin Astons and Sharpe in the BMW, with the Brundle/Maydon G55 a further 19 seconds behind.
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