AKA The Donington Decider
Thirteen hours down, two to go, and one clear objective; score the points needed to be crowned British GT Champions 2019.
I know that I’m repeating myself when I say that you win a championship by scoring consistently throughout the season. It’s not only trite, it’s pretty obvious too. But what if you don’t score consistently? What if you conjure occasional moments of brilliance, only to be outshone next time out? Welcome to British GT!
It’s a grid packed with world class driving talent and some of the finest GT cars and teams of anywhere in the world. Put another way, even the best are sometimes going to have to settle to be the best of the rest.
In theory, five driver pairings are mathematically in with a chance of securing the title, but reality says that it’s down to these three: –
For Balon, Davidson and De Haan, it could easily be their finest hour (or 62 minutes to be precise); but for Keen, Adam and Cocker, well, it’s what they do: It’s what they’re paid to do! Each is a champion; Keen racing to the Blancpain World Challenge Europe Pro-Am Cup title only a week ago at the Hungaroring, whilst Adam has won the British GT Championship no fewer than three times in the last four years (oh, and he’s won at Le Mans too). And Cocker, he won his first title (British GT N-GT) aged just 18 and has since won in Porsches, raced in LMP1 at Le Mans and won in ELMS.
So what are the odds looking like? First we need to look at the stats: –
1. Points to be won
1st 37.5 , 2nd 27 , 3rd 22.5 , 4th 18, 5th 15 , 6th 12 , 7th 9 , 8th 6, 9th 3 , 10th 1.5
2. The Penalty
Davidson and Adam have a +20 second pitstop success penalty as winners last time out.
3. The Lap Times
This is British GT’s second visit to Donington this year, so we already know what each driver is capable of.
Am Drivers fastest qualifying lap
1:28.5 De Haan
Pro Drivers fastest race lap
Allowing for slow opening laps and the possibility of a safety car (or two), even if Davidson consistently uses his pace advantage to pull 0.5 secs per lap on the Lamborghinis, he’s only likely to give Adam a 12-15 second advantage which is still going to leave a deficit for the Scot to recover after the penalty has been served.
Adam not only has to beat Keen, to make-up the points gap, he either has to win (very unlikely) or he has to be two places ahead (also unlikely) and hope that Cocker doesn’t win.
And what about De Haan & Cocker? Can they out-score each of their rivals? They have the same car as Balon & Keen . . . but they don’t have Keen! Of all the GT racers in any top flight competition, right now, Keen is quite possibly the best. His move around the outside of Cocker on the final lap, last time out at Brands Hatch was nothing short of sensational. It was one of the finest, bravest, most determined overtakes I have ever seen, and it was the move that sent he and Balon back to the top of the standings and De Haan & Cocker down to third.
So for me, with everything taken into consideration, if the Ams can hand over a capable and still in-contention car after 62 minutes of racing, then I’ll back Keen to do the job. He and Balon don’t have to win the race, they just need to be able to keep the car pointed forwards . . . but then how many times has this been said? You only need to look back at this and previous seasons to see that along with moments of brilliance, there have been equal moments of madness. Some self-inflicted, some caused by others, but all with the same inevitable consequence – ‘nul points’.
British GT’s Donington Decider is also the championship’s 300th race. With an even closer and more highly contested title fight in GT4, it looks likely to be one of the standout race weekends of the season. Tickets will be available on the gate, or watch it live this Sunday on the championship’s social media platforms and website, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel. Support races are also streamed live on BritishGT.com/live along with the #BritishGT300 parade lap.
Pete Walker (PAW Photography)
Ian Cutting (Ian Cutting Photography)
Steve Hindle (The Black Stuff).