British GT Championship: Victory at Donington Park!

May 27, 2024

Lamborghini Factory Driver Sandy and team-mate Alex Martin win chaotic Donington race with Black Bull and Barwell to retake lead in championship.

Former champ and Lamborghini factory driver Sandy delivered a storming drive to win what was a chaotic and bizarre latest round of the British GT Championship at Donington Park. The 24-year-old from Forfar, partnered by co-driver Alex Martin in their No 78 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo2, prepared by Barwell Motorsport, survived torrential rain, four Safety Car periods, a 52-minute Red Flag session when the race was suspended, and a final manic 37-minute nose-to-tail battle to win the three-hour race by just 0.597-seconds.

“That has to be one of the craziest races I’ve ever done in British GT,” smiled Sandy, whose win, his second of the season, catapults he and Martin back into the lead in the championship. “It felt like it lasted forever.” The chaos started even before the race began. Sandy and Martin qualified their Lamborghini on pole position and as Martin led the 36-car field round the Leicestershire circuit on the warm-up lap, the skies opened. As all the cars were on slick tyres, the start was aborted to allow the teams to fit wet Pirellis.

Once the race finally got underway in changeable conditions which saw the sun come out and dry the track, Martin pitted after 20 minutes for the first of three mandatory driver changes. But soon after Sandy, now on slick tyres, had rattled off a series of fastest laps he pitted for wets just as a cloudburst flooded the track. Within seconds of the unprecedented conditions, seven or eight cars, still on slicks, had slithered off into the gravel at Turn 1 at the end of the start-finish straight due to the standing water. The Safety Car was immediately deployed, and the race was then neutralised by the Red Flag as the conditions were simply too dangerous.

When the race finally got back underway following the 52-minute delay, Martin was back in the car and had rejoined in sixth. Surviving two Full Course Yellow and Safety Car periods, Martin mastered the changing conditions and had moved up to fourth when he pitted for the final time with 63 minutes remaining.
Back on slicks Sandy rejoined in third and, following another two Safety Car periods, with 37-minutes of the race remaining was in third place, right on the bumper of the sister Barwell Lamborghini of Ricky Collard.

Immediately on the restart, Sandy squeezed into second when Collard ran slightly wide at Turn 2. The Scot, who won the corresponding three-hour race at Donington last season, then set about hunting down the lead Mercedes of Phil Keen, who is tied on the record British GT race wins of 19. For close on 30 minutes Sandy hounded the rear bumper of the Mercedes, while at the same time was fending off the third-placed McLaren of Tom Gamble. So intense was the battle, for most of the time the three cars were covered by less than a second.

“I knew it was going to be really tricky to get passed Phil because he doesn’t make too many mistakes,” Sandy, personally-backed by Huntly-based Black Bull Scotch Whisky, Tunnocks, Alan Davie Transport, Upper Dysart and Results Gym, explained. “And with the differences in the car it was difficult to get close enough to be able to make a move. But with about seven minutes remaining he got held up a little bit by a GT4 car, ran slightly wide and I thought ‘this is the only chance I’m going to get’. So I went full steam ahead and finally got ahead of him for the lead. I can’t believe we won to be honest. It was a terrific performance by everyone on the team. Those conditions pushed everyone to the max and the Barwell crew, and Alex, all did a fantastic job.”

The win, the second of the season for Sandy and Martin, move them back into the lead of the championship. With five races remaining, they lead the sister Barwell Lamborghini of Ricky and Rob Collard by nine-and-half points.

The ultra-competitive championship resumes in late June with a two-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.