With the overall FIA Pure McLaren GT title settled in favour of Mia Flewitt last time out, the focus on the final weekend of the series’ first season was on the Bruce McLaren Cup class championship held for drivers who have held their racing licence for under than twelve months and have not competed higher than club level in that specific year.
In a closely fought contest between Sultan Ojjeh and Issam Charrouf, Ojjeh emerged the winner after two strong performances including an overall win in the final race of the season to seal it.
The first race of the weekend took place on Saturday and was dominated by Pure GT champion Mia Flewitt. In qualifying, she secured pole with a 2:13.1 lap of the circuit and went on to lead all 13 laps of the encounter which was interrupted in the first half by a safety car.
The safety car period was caused by Bruce McLaren Cup title challenger Issam Charrouf, whose #5 McLaren 570S GT4 suffered a puncture on the start finish straight and needed recovering. This set up a frantic restart a few laps later, though Flewitt held station up front.
Behind Flewitt’s #18 570S GT4, David Kyte did his best to mount a challenge for the lead in the #12 car, setting the fastest lap of the race on the second tour of the circuit, a 2:14.841, earning him the ‘Speedy Kiwi’ award.
But it was not enough and he eventually had to settle for second place overall and, crucially, first in the Bruce McLaren Cup class. Completing the overall podium was guest racer James Taylor, who improved on his free practice form to secure third place on the grid, where he would finish, less than a second ahead of Stewart Proctor.
The battle for fifth was heated until the very end. Bruce McLaren Cup points leader Sultan Ojjeh missed a gear before the final corner with just minutes remaining in the race, allowing Mohammed Al-Khalifa through. Ojjeh fought back though, and secured a top five place finish just before the end, and second in the Cup class, putting him on the cusp of the title. Eric Hautemont rounded out the class podium, finishing seventh behind Al-Khalifa.
Ojjeh then proved to be the star of the show in race two Sunday, taking pole with a 2:13.427 and a dominant race win, claiming the ‘Speedy Kiwi’ award with a rapid 2:14.312 lap and clinching the Bruce McLaren Cup title in the final race of the season as a result.
Behind Ojjeh, it was a real clash between many runners fighting for the remaining top five spots.
Stewart Proctor finished the race second in his #66 570S GT4, after overtaking race one winner Flewitt on the opening lap. Flewitt’s race would then turn from bad to worse, after a collision with Kyte going through the complex. This dropped her to the back of the pack and eventually put an end to her race, the damage sustained forcing her into retirement on lap 10, after gaining back four places.
This left Issam Charrouf to take the final overall podium spot and second in the Bruce McLaren Cup, in turn securing fourth in the overall Pure GT series standings. Guest driver Nick Trott and Eric Hautemont came home fourth and fifth, Hautemont taking third in the Cup class.
Petrolheads were rewarded not only by the on-track series action but by the appearance of a selection of iconic McLaren heritage cars that hit the circuit over the weekend.
The list of machinery included a McLaren M4A F2 car (Chassis #2), one of two that were built by company founder Bruce McLaren in 1967. The car was run as a factory supported entry by Guildford Team owner John Coombs; driven by rising British star Piers Courage.
In addition, two Formula 1 cars from McLaren Racing’s more recent history turned heads in the paddock. One was the 2007 MP4/22A-05, which claimed two wins that season at the hands of Lewis Hamilton in Hungary and Japan. The other, Hamilton’s 2012 MP4/27-04 example which was victorious in Italy and the USA that season