In the morning practice runs, Mark Smith and Martin Plowman identified an issue with the differential on their 720S GT3. It was identified that the rear wheel's had no drive and a component inside the differential had broken, something the team suspects had been worsening across the course of the year so far. The decision was made to skip much of Saturday practice in order to replace the whole differential and gearbox, something that breathed new life into the GT3.
During the afternoon, both of Paddock Motorsport's McLaren 720S cars showed impressive pace, some pre-event testing helped both the engineers and drivers better understand the setup options for the new Artura GT4. Unsurprisingly, the team's efforts paid off and resulted in Kavi Jundu & Tom Rawlings achieving P2 in the GT4 Pro-Am. Smith and Plowman would start 11th in class on Sunday, the real breakthrough would come in the race.
Smith wasted little time in switching to attack mode, quickly picking off the McLarens of both Ian Campbell and Mark Radcliffe, and then went on something of an overtaking spree. By mid-distance Smith had achieved the #11 Paddock McLaren into a superb seventh place.
With only an hour remaining, McLeans encountered a crash which resulted in a safety car being deployed. The aftermath of the crashed called for a thorough clean-up of the GT3 and barrier repairs to ensure the track and drivers were safe. However, the race did not resume for 25 minutes and Plowman lost a place to the flying BMW M4 of factory driver Dan Harper, but was successfully keeping the Enduro Motorsport McLaren of Marcus Clutton at bay with seventh place firmly in his sights.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the race Plowman was forced to pit due to contact from a chasing McLaren and resulted in a tyre puncture. The pit crew were quick to change the tyre but even with the best of effort it was not enough to gain back the pace, dropping the car to 10th at the flag.
In GT4, Jundu took the start from second on the grid, and soon came under pressure from Carl Cavers’ Century Motorsport BMW. With the M4 enjoying a straight-line-speed advantage on the Artura, Jundu fell behind it on the straight but was crawling all over Cavers through the first sector in an effort to get the place back. He went for a move into the hairpin, only for the BMW to squeeze across. The resulting contact damaged the front of the Artura and knocked the steering out. The resulting loss of aero made the race a battle from then on, something that was compounded by a drive-through penalty earned when the sliding McLaren strayed one too many times off the track.
Jundu and Rawlings managed the wounded car to the flag and achieved a respectable fifth place to at least bag some more points for the team.
Mark Smith said: “I loved my stint! I was pulling moves all over the place and the car felt superb throughout. The team did an amazing job with the gearbox and differential change, which just breathed new life into the car and I could really attack people. I got stuck behind [reigning British GT champion] Ian Loggie and that sort of stunted our progress as I couldn’t find a way past. It’s a shame about the clash at the end, but it’s part of racing. But hopefully we can press on from the gains we found this weekend and the results will come.”
Martin Plowman said: “When we finished 11th at Silverstone it felt like a mini win, but finishing 10th this time feels a bit more like a robbery! The team did a brilliant job with the technical changes we needed, and they really improved the car, especially for Mark, who drove a tremendous opening stint to make up so many places. I was just defending at the end when I got the hit on the right-rear, which punctured the tyre and from then there was nothing I could do. Still, the team got the car back out and we grabbed some points. It’s been a real team effort this weekend, we just missed that little bit of luck that could have made the difference.”
Kavi Jundu said: “We definitely took a step forward this weekend as we enjoyed a really competitive car across Saturday, and we would have had one for Sunday too, but it was just bad luck that denied us. At the start I was fighting hard with one of the BMWs, which are so fast in a straight line, but we had the edge through the twisty stuff. I went for a move and the BMW just kept coming across and I had nowhere to go, that damaged the front end and from then the steering was about 15-degrees out. Every time I turned right the car slid wide and that contributed toward the track limits. It’s good that we still got to the finish, we just need that bit of luck to get the results we really deserve.”
Tom Rawlings said: “It’s been a tough weekend but there are positives. We felt we had a really strong car on Saturday, one that we could really fight with and we were well in the hunt for a class pole position. Kavi then got unlucky at the start of the race, and when I got in for the second stint the car’s balance was all over the place due to the damage and it was pulling to one side whenever I got hard on the brakes. I just had to nurse it as best I could. But I’m really glad that we moved forward with the car’s pace, and hopefully we can come out fighting at Snetterton.”
Onwards and Upwards
The next round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship tales place at Snetterton on June 17/18. Ravenol UK is proud to work with Paddock Motorsport as technical partners.