Tolman Motorsport ended their 2018 British GT Championship fight with two of their McLaren 570S GT4 trio on the GT4 podium, which included a Pro-‐Am win, at Donington last weekend. Tolman also finished second in the Team’s Championship standings, the #4 McLaren took third in the overall Driver’s Championship, a mere two points away from clinching the title and second in the Silver running and to round off the team’s successes, #56 placed in the top three Pro-‐Am entries.
After a season of extreme highs and lows, the Warwickshire based team went into the final round of the British GT Championship with a chance to battle for the Driver’s and Team’s Championship honours. The #4 McLaren of Charlie Fagg and Michael O’Brien needed to finish first or second to be within reach of the title.
A good start to the weekend was had, with a strong showing by all three McLarens in both free practice sessions. However, the heavens opened shortly before qualifying, leading to very tricky conditions but, this didn’t stop the Tolman drivers from proving their talent. Joe Osborne in #56, posted the fastest GT4 lap time by three tenths of a second and the aggregated time of Osborne and David Pattison positioned them fifth in Pro-‐Am. Charlie Fagg and Michael O’Brien placed their #4 570S in P3 overall, only three tenths short of pole position. Jordan Albert and Lewis Proctor were both slightly frustrated with their qualifying performance and their combined time placed them eighth in class.
Strong starts by Pattison and O’Brien saw them work their way up the order on the opening lap. No such luck prevailed for Proctor in #5, as the right rear quarter was hit by the #55 HHC Ginetta going into the first corner. This caused a severe puncture, stripping the rubber from the wheel and leaving Lewis with no option but to limp back to the pits for repairs. The Tolman crew swiftly checked for damage, replaced the battered tyre and Lewis headed back onto circuit, albeit a lap down. Proctor pushed on and soon found the back of the GT4 pack to make up five positions before handing over to Albert. With nothing to lose, Jordan pushed hard and with great pace, he continued to work the #5 McLaren up the grid to take the flag sixth in class and 11th overall.
David in the #56 had a strong stint which saw him battle with the #22 Invictus Jaguar and the #88 Ginetta. The impressive Am continued to work his way up the field and handed his McLaren over to Pro Joe third in class. With last year’s brake issues in mind, Osborne pushed hard at the start of his run, but then backed off slightly to settle into a solid race rhythm. Only a handful of laps to go and Joe was sitting fourth overall/second in class, and with a chance of stepping on the podium only a few seconds away, the team and Joe agreed that he should push hard to end the season on a high. No more needed to be said, Osborne wasted no time in taking that third position and the Pro-‐Am victory from the Steller Motorsport Toyota and crossed the line to huge cheers from the Tolman team.
Title contenders O’Brien and Fagg never left the top three throughout the two-‐hour battle. Extremely mature driving from both young guns meant they battled hard, but cleanly with their fellow competitors, as well as managing the GT3 traffic without any trouble. A special mention to Charlie who was swamped by a group of seven challenging GT3 cars at once and managed to hold his position and not lose track time or get tangled in the faster class’ assault. Despite brilliant pace by the pairing, they were unable to catch the #10 McLaren to take the win, so Fagg crossed the line in second position, securing third in the Championship standings, only two points away from claiming the British GT4 winners title. Congratulations to Century Motorsport and Jack Mitchell on their victory.
A huge thank you and congratulations to every single person who has been involved in Tolman Motorsport’s 2018 campaign. To achieve multiple pole positions, wins and podium positions wouldn’t be possible without the incredible dedication and hard work from every team member. We are very excited to see what 2019 has in store for us!
Christopher Tolman Team Manager – This weekend was a very big mountain to climb. The fact that we came so close to it is amazing and at one moment towards the end of the race, we would have won by a single point! However, the race moved so quickly and the GT4 order unfortunately changed before the chequered flag. Nevertheless, what we have achieved this year is incredible and it was perfect for McLaren with a podium lockout. Going from one car to three, from a privateer to a near factory effort has been something special and that is down to having the best people in the paddock. I’ve had many comments from people who are astounded at how good the crew are, and I’m very proud of that.
Charlie Fagg #4 – The weekend as a whole was quite good and we had a bit of a BOP break, but only by 10kgs. We looked good in FP1 and FP2 but qualifying was a little messy and I didn’t get the right lap in when it was drying so that was frustrating, but we ended up third so couldn’t complain too much! Mikey did a good job at the start of the race, he brought the car in to me in third and all I needed to do was drive as fast as I could. I didn’t really want to think about the Championship, I just wanted to drive my race. Alex and the team did a really good job; they knew exactly what they were doing. We finished second with really good pace, but we just didn’t have the pace of the leaders. We lost out on the Championship by two points, but it doesn’t matter because I’ve had a really good year. It’s been the best year of my life, with the best team, the best manufacturer and the best people around me and I would not have changed it for anything at all. Coming into a three car team, getting back into a GT4, it’s been really good. Right from our P2 at Oulton Park, to finishing P2 here at Donington, from start to finish we’ve been on the pace the whole year. I couldn’t be anymore happy with the year as a whole, I’ve had a great time.
Michael O’Brien #4 – Highs and low over the race weekend with the race result and the Championship. Qualifying went quite well, we were right up there in tricky conditions during a drying session and ended up P3 for the start. The race was good, we stayed in the top three for the whole duration and battled well with the BMW. The pit stop went well, we came out in second place and that’s where we took the flag. Championship wise we came up just slightly short but overall it’s been a great season, with four podiums and some great results. Looking forward to getting better next year.
Jordan Albert #5 – It’s been a fantastic season in a three car team, I’ve learnt a huge amount. I’ve really grown as a person and improved as a driver. The start of the weekend was really good as we were quick in the dry. Qualifying didn’t quite go to plan and we were out of position going into the race, but we were very motivated to head forwards. Lewis, unfortunately, got hit by another car at the start of the race, which meant we had to pit and following that we were a lap down. When I went out, I just had to make the most of it and learn as much as possible with decent laps and positive pace towards the end. Overall it’s been a fantastic year, huge thank you to Tolman Motorsport for their dedication and hard work, I’m really impressed by them and all the support from McLaren on this incredible programme.
Lewis Proctor #5 – I made big steps in my dry pace during FP1/2. Qualifying was damp and I struggled in those conditions, just with the lack of experience I have on a low grip surface, so we were a bit out of position. I had a really good start, but I was hit into turn one but the #55 HHC Ginetta. It destroyed the wheel and the tyre, so I limped back to the pits. The team replaced both rear tyres and I went back out a lap down. My pace was good and I soon began to pick off the rear of the GT4 train, which was really good fun! It’s the first time this year I’ve really been on the ‘hunt’. I’ve normally been up towards the sharper end of the field, more defending and holding position, so it was good to get my teeth into that. We had a really good pit stop and I handed over to Jordan and he brought the car home 6th in class and his pace was pretty solid as well. It was a great drive by us both, but we had some really bad luck at the start. Its been an amazing year for my first full year of racing. Because it was my first full season, my reference and benchmark was pretty much non existent, but needless to say, it’s been a great year and I’ve learnt loads. Everyone around me in Tolman and McLaren have offered really good support, it’s been second to none. I know that anything else I do in racing will probably be below this in standard and quality!
David Pattison #56 – We had a great result. We went in to the weekend with the thought that we weren’t involved in any championships, obviously we would help our team mates if we could, but it really was just about enjoying it. FP1 and FP2 were great, I wasn’t that quick in qualifying but Joe was super quick, so we sort of started on the grid where we would have thought we’d be. My race lap times were pretty competitive, I stuck with some Silver drivers, missed a few spinning cars on several occasions, had some good overtakes including the Ciceley Mercedes and had a good battle with a Jag and a Ginetta. Joe then took over and we were fourth and second in class, but no one really remembers that, so Joe went for it and achieved third and first in class. The season has been great and the Tolman team is a great team. The triumvirate of me, Joe and Rob, our engineer, has been really strong all season, we all get on really well and it’s been a privilege to work with both of them. The team have worked so hard – big crash at Spa, engine change at Brands Hatch. This was a nice way to finish, and that’s how I wanted it to end. I feel elated, relieved and satisfied.
Joe Osborne #56 – We had a couple of good practice sessions and then qualifying was wet, so that was a bit of a curveball as David had never driven around here in the wet. With qualifying only being 10 minutes, it was always going to be hard getting those four laps in. Pro-‐Am wise, David was really competitive. For my session the car was perfect and it was probably about five or 10 minutes away from being slicks, so there was a bit of pressure there to be on the right tyres, so I was happy to be fastest. The race looked relatively uneventful for David, in terms of we didn’t get hit for once which was quite cool. The safety car came out at a good time and kept us with the overall leaders and that proved in the pit stop, which was good, the boys did well as it was really busy. We knew we had to look after the brakes, so I pushed for a bit and then eased off. But with 15 minutes to go, we decided to push as hard as we could, and with two laps to go, we passed the Toyota to win Pro-‐Am and take third overall, which realistically was the best result we could have achieved. It’s a good way to finish a difficult year.
Image credits: McLaren Automotive