Tolman Motorsport enjoyed a strong showing at Rockingham for round two of the British GT Championship last weekend, where they left as the highest finishing McLaren, with points across the board and moved up to second in the driver’s standings.
The Warwickshire-based team proved their phenomenal pace in the wet, as they locked out the front row with their #4 and #5 McLaren 570S GT4 entries, piloted by Charlie Fagg and Michael O’Brien, and Jordan Albert and Lewis Proctor. They also set the fastest overall lap time in the #56 machine, driven by Joe Osborne and David Pattison, in Saturday’s qualifying session.
Following the abandonment of race two at Oulton Park and some successful testing at the Corby circuit, the Tolman crew were itching to get the weekend started. There was no better way to kick off round three, than by dominating the first free practice session. Not only did the Tolman trio, #4, #5 and #56, end the session first, second and third fastest GT4 cars respectively, they also sat within the top 11 cars on the entire 34-strong British GT3/GT4 grid!
As the weather significantly worsened during FP2, the team made the decision to only complete a handful of laps, as there was very little to be gained from any extra running. All three cars however, still showed great pace.
The focus then turned to qualifying, and after their leading performance in FP1, the team put great pressure on themselves when it mattered, and they certainly delivered as they locked out the front row of the grid and claimed fastest overall lap. The first qualifying session saw Fagg set the fastest lap time, 1.2 seconds ahead of his team mate Lewis Proctor in the sister McLaren who sat in P2. “The wet conditions really helped us, the 1-2 shows how good Tolman are and how good the McLaren is in those conditions” Fagg commented.
Q2 saw yet another 1-2 for Tolman as Pro Osborne soon flew up to the top spot in the #56 570S and posted the fastest GT4 lap, with O’Brien in second position, only 0.3 seconds behind Joe, in #4 and Albert did a great job to place #5 second in the Silver class. The aggregate times saw Fagg and O’Brien sit on pole position by an incredible two seconds!
Fagg, took the start of the first two-hour race on the British GT calendar, and he got off to a strong start despite the challenging, greasy conditions. Fagg drove with incredible maturity as he held off the rest of the GT4 grid for an hour, to hold onto first place before handing over to O’Brien.
Rockingham was the first round where the Tolman crew would have to fully service three cars during the mandatory pit stop and they performed all three flawlessly, which left O’Brien heading back out still in the lead aboard #4.
Due to the BOP given, the significant weight of the GT4 McLaren makes Rockingham an unfavourable circuit, as it’s hard to get the car stopped around the multiple, tight twists and turns. This, along with the heavy defending that young guns O’Brien and Albert had to do, meant both #4 and #5 suffered from substantial tyre degradation and whilst Osborne was nursing #56 to the flag, to ensure maximum Pro Am points were claimed, the Tolman youngsters were fighting to hold their positions. O’Brien, who was competing in only his second ever GT race, dealt with the huge pressure from his fellow competitors to bring #4 home P5 overall and P3 in the Silver class.
Charlie Fagg #4 – “Pole position by two seconds, you cannot ask for more. It dried up on Sunday, and we knew we’d struggle with that. It was a constant battle to keep the #55 Ginetta behind me, I did for an hour, which for me is a big win! It was one of those races you look back on and think that was really good, everything you did had to be perfect, you couldn’t lose a tenth anywhere because it would bite you really hard.”
Michael O’Brien #4 – “We were the top finishing McLaren which was important for points in the championship. It was really hard to fend off the Aston and the Nissan as I kept having to look behind. It was a tough race but we’ve learnt a lot and I’m looking forward to the next one.”