British GT titles decided in dramatic Donington finale
Promoted as #DoningtonDecider, the dramatic finale to this year’s Intelligent Money British GT Championship not only lived-up to its big billing but also exceeded it with both fiercely-fought GT3 and GT4 drivers’ titles going right down to wire in sensational style.
It was the 2 Seas Motorsport run Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of James Cottingham and Philip Ellis which topped the GT3 standings as the teams arrived at Donington Park with the Century Motorsport entered BMW M4 GT3 of Darren Leung and Dan Harper in hot pursuit.
A yellow flag infringement and subsequent drive-through penalty, however, seemed to have scuppered the chances of points leaders Cottingham and Ellis. But the chasing BMW wasn’t without its own troubles.
Despite a fast-starting Leung taking the lead on the opening lap with an audacious move around the outside of the pole sitting Aston Martin Vantage of Andrew Howard down the Craner Curves, the BMW’s early lead was twice negated by frustrating Safety Car periods. To make matters worse, a longer mandatory pit stop then dropped the Century crew right down the order to a lowly 13th. Their championship dreams appeared to be in tatters.
Rather than cursing their ill-fortune, however, Harper rose to the challenge in thrilling fashion producing one of the greatest driving stints in series history. The young BMW factory ace swathed through the field dispatching rival after rival to finish a title-winning second just nine seconds adrift of the winning Barwell Motorsport run Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo shared by Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell. Ellis battled back to finish 10th in erstwhile points leading Mercedes but it wasn’t enough to deny the hard-charging Harper and Leung the crown.
“We did it! What a feeling!” posted a ecstatic Harper. “What an absolutely incredible performance from Darren and everyone at Century Motorsport. It’s hard to sum up our emotions right now. This was the fairy-tale result and we made it happen!”
The title tussle among the GT4 contenders was every bit as exciting. Despite starting the #DoningtonDecider with a sizable 16.5-point deficit and 46 seconds of extra pit-stop time pit-stop time, the Academy Motorsport prepared Ford Mustang of American youngster Erik Evans and British GT4 stalwart Matt Cowley overcame significant odds to emerge victorious both on the track and in a six-way title showdown.
With the dust now settled at Donington Park, season 32 of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship blasts off at Oulton Park on 29 March – 1 April 2024.