Achieving our maiden GT3 win at Spa-Francorchamps!
The weekend we’ve been waiting for… our British GT3 maiden win!
The British GT Championship made its annual trip to the iconic Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium for Round 7, and after a successful test there two weeks ago we came into the weekend hopeful.
After incredibly strong qualifying sessions on Saturday, drivers Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley started second on the grid and, after losing ground initially, fought back to take a stunning victory for the team from Maldon, Essex, aboard their McLaren 720S GT3.
Both Nick and Jamie showed excellent pace through practice and qualifying; the pair combining to put the McLaren in a superb second place on the grid overall – our best-ever performance in British GT.
In the opening 10 minutes of the race Nick faced contact with another car, which dropped him to fifth, but he quickly recovered and embarked on the stint of his life. Picking off his rivals one-by-one,he then took the lead in the 50th minute of the race with a daring move around the outside into the legendary flat-out uphill sweep at Eau Rouge, before pulling away to build a seven second lead over the following five laps.
A clean pitstop and driver change at the races halfway point saw Jamie continue to lap with pace, and maintain the seven second margin for the remainder of the race.
Jamie crossed the line to secure the first outright British GT3 victory for the team, making them the only team to have put a McLaren on the overall podium in multiple races in 2022.
Nick now provisionally sits second in the Pro-Am standings with Jamie – who had to miss the Donington race earlier in the year – fourth.
The results remain provisional for now owing to an issue outside of the team’s control that was discovered after qualifying and resulted in the times of several McLarens being removed. An appeal against the penalty was lodged by the team and will be heard by Motorsport UK, Britain’s national motorsport body, in due course.
Nick Halstead said: “I’m absolutely chuffed. Jamie and Fox Motorsport have done a fantastic job to make us the fastest McLaren team here, and we’ve proven that when we have a BoP [Balance of Performance] that’s competitive, we can fight for wins. I had a good battle in the early stages in the pack, but my laptimes were generally faster than the other Am drivers, which I was able to show once I got out front into clear air. The move for the lead was fun. I had the confidence to make the move because I’d already had some good manoeuvres earlier in the race. It’s always a bit hairy at Eau Rouge, but I’d calculated how far back I needed to be to make the move and not lose momentum, so it worked pretty well.”
Jamie Stanley said: “We’ve been working towards a GT3 programme for a long time with Fox, so to reach the top level of British GT this year and now get a win in our first season is pretty incredible. The team’s had to learn an all-new car and so has Nick and everyone’s adapted brilliantly. We had a BoP that allowed us to be competitive, and as a team we did the rest, just working the car up to the edge of the performance window. This is the result. In Pro-Am racing the perfect scenario as a Pro is to be given a leading car and just having to protect the advantage. Nick did a mega job to give me the McLaren in first place and my race was quite lonely, but I’m not complaining about that. This win re-sets our targets for the final two races in terms of our level and we’ll push as hard as we can to try and win another before the end of the season.”