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Lamborghini kicks off British GT campaign in style with double victory at Oulton Park

2 April 2024

Collards take first win together in the #63 Huracán GT3 EVO2 while Mitchell and Martin steer #78 to race two success

Lamborghini began its quest for the British GT Championship title in fine fashion, with Barwell Motorsport taking both wins in the season opener at Oulton Park. The #63 crew of Rob and Ricky Collard braved the wet conditions to win the first race of the day while the #78 of Sandy Mitchell and Alex Martin completed the clean sweep in a safety car affected second encounter.

The double triumph means that Lamborghini has now won eight British GT races at the Cheshire circuit since first partnering with Barwell Motorsport in 2016 – as well as claiming its first clean sweep at the track since 2017 – and takes a handy championship lead into the next round at Silverstone.

The weekend began strongly for the pair of Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2s, with the #78 pacing the opening free practice session on Saturday morning, setting a best time of 1m32.942. Setting the tone for the first round of the season, the sister #63 car was second fastest, 0.580s in arrears and finishing the second session fourth quickest.

The #63 of Rob Collard then left it until the very last lap in the first qualifying session to grab pole position for race one, registering a time of 1m35.102 and beating the #18 Mercedes by just under a quarter of a second. The #78 in the hands of Martin qualified fourth on the gird. In the second session, the positions were swapped, as Mitchell took pole for race two in the #78, with Ricky Collard fourth in the #63.

Heavy rain and overcast skies on race day meant that conditions were far from ideal for the 35-car strong grid for the first one-hour race. Off the rolling start, Rob Collard maintained his advantage from pole and fended off the attention of Ian Loggie’s Mercedes during the opening segment of the one-hour race. Behind, Martin held onto third place as the top three crews leapt clear of the fourth-placed car. A lengthy full course yellow period negated Collard’s slender lead, with the neutralisation extended throughout the pit windows.

Rob Collard swapped with his son, Ricky while Martin handed over the reins of the #78 with Mitchell, each car maintaining their positions as the window closed. There was, however, drama at the safety car restart as the stewards investigated the restart procedure of the #63 in the hands of Collard. Initially, the #63 was handed a 30-second post-race time penalty which would have dropped it to 13th. But, upon further inspection, the penalty was rescinded due to the safety car lights being switched off prior to Collard dropping beyond the normally required five car lengths before the restart.

Therefore, Collard was able to eke out a margin over the chasing Mercedes which, in turn, had to defend from a charging Mitchell aboard the #78. The Lamborghini Factory Driver set three consecutive fastest laps and closed to within just seven-tenths of a second at the finish, but ultimately ended up third as the Collards took their first domestic GT victory together.

Race two took place on a still wet, but drying, track with Mitchell holding the lead either side of a first-lap safety car intervention as Ricky Collard held station in fourth in the #63. With the field starting on wet tyres, Mitchell surged away at the front, quickly establishing a seven-second margin over the #27 McLaren safe in the knowledge that the #78 machine had to serve an additional five seconds at the mandatory pit-stop courtesy of its race one podium finish. A slower than expected stop meant it temporarily dropped back to second but, with Martin aboard, immediately reclaimed the lead.

That was, unfortunately, as good as it got in terms of a racing spectacle, as a full course yellow period for an incident further down the order meant no more competitive laps could be completed. Barrier repairs kept the safety car on track until the final lap but, with less than 20 seconds remaining by the time it came back into the pits, the chequered flag was shown to Mitchell and Martin.

Sandy Mitchell, Barwell Motorsport, and Lamborghini Factory Driver said: “The difficult bit was building a big enough gap at the start because we had the five seconds extra in the pitlane whereas the guys in the McLaren didn’t have a success penalty. So, the key to us was to try and pull away and we absolutely nailed the tyre pressures, but I was kind of struggling at the start and Tom [Gamble] was really on me, but then it dried out and we were away after that.”

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