Wilkins triumphs in first Masters GT Trophy race at Brands Hatch
Craig Wilkins led home a Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo 1-2-3 as during the mandatory stops he turned the tables on his rival Jason McInulty who had led during their opening stint in the 30-minute race. Aaron Scott fought back to snatch third in the Huracán started by Neil Glover.
“We’ll see how long it lasts!” said Wilkins about returning to winning form after winning the first race at Donington. “The team pulled a masterstroke by pitting me early. And winning here means a lot to me as it’s a hard choice between the Brands Hatch GP circuit and Spa for my favourite circuit.”
“First time out in the car”, said McInulty. “I managed to keep the lead in my opening stint, we set fairly similar times, even though I suffered a bit from a little bit of understeer going in and oversteer on the way out. We thought we were on time at the stops but still lost 12 seconds, so we will have see what happened there.”
“It was good, everything was just fine”, said Scott. “I just pushed, but there was not enough time to get back to people. It’s good exercise for Neil, though, that’s the main thing, pushing him on and improving.”
Behind the Lambos, Cup class winner Sam Tordoff and GT4 class winner Ray Harris fought hard over fourth overall, with the Porsche 997.2 Cup prevailing over the Ginetta G55 by 4.7 seconds at the end.
Craig Davies brought his Huracán Super Trofeo home in sixth ahead of the Marcus Jewell/Dallas Carroll Porsche 991.2 Cup, George Haynes and Adam Sharpe in the BMW M3 GT4 and David Harrison in a 991.1 Cup.
Blessed by beautiful spring weather, the Masters GT Trophy field lined up for their first race of the weekend, Neil Glover leading away from pole, but two more Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evos soon found a way past with a pair of brave moves on lap 1, with Sam Tordoff’s Porsche 997.2 Cup also passing Glover at Druids into lap 2. Craig Davies was fifth in the non-Evo Super Trofeo, with Marcus Jewell’s Porsche 991.2 Cup leading Ray Harris in the Ginetta G55 in sixth and seventh, followed by Adam Sharpe in the BMW M3 GT4 and David Harrison in the 991.1 GT3 Cup.
At the front, Wilkins was taking the fight to Jason McInulty, closing the gap down to seven-tenths, with Tordoff in the relatively quiet Porsche now trailing by eight seconds. On lap 3, Davies had passed Glover for fourth, and now Glover was fending off Jewell, with Harris not far away either.
Two laps later, Wilkins improved on McInulty’s fastest lap of the race to cut his deficit to sixth tenths, as both Tordoff and Davies now found themselves in no man’s land, but after a fierce battle, Harris snatched sixth from Jewell.
With 20 minutes still to go and the pit window opening, it continued to be too close to call at the front, as McInulty and Wilkins went on to set almost identical lap times. No-one looked eager to come in soon, but on lap 7 Jewell was in to hand over to Dallas Carroll. Next time around, Wilkins pulled his joker card for his early stop, but McInulty responded on the next lap. He was followed in by Glover who would hand over to Aaron Scott, but Scott would have to wait 15 seconds longer because of his elite driver status.
Stopping seven seconds longer than it needed to be, McInulty had handed back the virtual lead to Wilkins, as temporary leader Tordoff now also entered the pits, along with Harris, while Adam Sharpe changed places with George Haynes in the M3 GT4. Now Davies was the only one still out there who was yet to stop, but he was in at the start of lap 11, allowing Wilkins to reassume leading responsibilities at the front.
Due to McInulty’s longer stop and a fair bit of speed of his own, Wilkins now led by 12 seconds, with late stoppers Harris and Davies seemingly having done the smart thing to be third and fourth. Tordoff had dropped to fifth ahead of Scott, but the latter was flying, and on lap 12, both Tordoff and Scott passed Davies for fourth and fifth respectively, with Scott now chasing the Porsche for another spot.
With another fastest lap of the race, Wilkins eased away to a 13.5-second lead on lap 13, while about a minute behind Harris still led Tordoff and Scott by seven seconds, but soon Scott was up into fourth and lapping two seconds faster than the Ginetta that he was chasing. On lap 15, Scott had it done to snatch third and make it a Huracán 1-2-3.
Once again lowering his own mark, Wilkins improved on fastest lap again on lap 17, but next time around Scott beat that by eight-tenths. However, Scott trailed the leader by over a minute, and McInulty by some 50 ticks, so the podium places remained locked in until the chequered flag. Tordoff and Harris battled hard for fourth, but Tordoff sealed the place two laps from the end before eeking out a 4.7-second lead towards the end. They were followed home by Davies, Jewell/Carroll, Haynes/Sharpe and Harrison.
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