Darren Turner and his Newbridge Motorsport team mate, Matt Topham, continued their fight for the British GT4 title with a victory at Brands Hatch and now, with one race remaining, the pair have extended their lead at the top of the GT4 Driver standings.
The result from yesterday’s two-hour race also gave Newbridge Racing the lead in the GT4 Teams standings.
After starting the weekend just one point ahead, Turner’s hope was to extend that lead to give the team the best opportunity to take a shot at the title at the season finale. Both Free Practice sessions went well, which gave the drivers more confidence ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Topham’s lap time during qualifying showed great improvement but with the current level of competition in GT4, it was only enough to put the #27 Aston Martin in ninth place. Turner’s first run was affected by a red flag but he managed to scrap a lap together that put him third in his session with an aggregate that put the car in seventh place on the grid.
“I really enjoyed qualifying,” said Turner. “You don’t get many chances to go out onto the full Brands Hatch Grand Prix track with low fuel and new tyres so to be out there, hanging it on the line, is a great feeling.”
Topham was behind the wheel of the Vantage GT4 for the start of the race. His goal, as a bronze driver, was to try and stay with the pack of silver-graded drivers, which is no mean feat. The leading Audi was easily pulling away from the field and a group of silver drivers were busy tripping over each other while Matt got his head down and got stuck in.
Strangely, during Topham’s stint there were three Safety Car periods, which completely played into the team’s hands. The third one, which came just before the pit window opened meant that as the GT4 field streamed into the pits, Matt was right there.
As Turner and Topham are a Pro-Am pairing they enjoy a shorter hold time in the pits so Darren was able to jump into the Vantage, leapfrog the entire GT4 field and set off on the hunt for the chequered flag!
“I had a very simple job to do at that point,” he said. “As long as nobody got near me, we would take the win. I drove as fast as I could for an hour but even so the competition was closing in. The configuration of Brands Hatch means that as you come out of Druids and back down the hill you can see the cars coming into Paddock Hill Bend so you know if they are catching you way before time.
“I was willing the clock to count down a bit faster and if the race had been another 10 minutes longer, it could have been a different story altogether. The main thing though is that we had Lady Luck on our side this weekend and we took full advantage of that.”
Topham and Turner head into the final round of the season with the lead in both the overall GT4 and the Pro-Am GT4 Championships. They have a while to wait though as the ‘Donington Decider’ takes place on 16 October.