Tolman Motorsport achieved silverware for finishing third in GT3 Silver-Am with Ian Stinton and Jordan Witt on its return to the Intelligent Money British GT Championship and its maiden outing as a Bentley Customer Racing Team at Donington Park (16-17 October).
The Warwickshire-based squad put together a programme in under two weeks but received the chequered flag in the British GT ‘Donington Decider’ as the fastest Bentley Motorsport Team, even though critical free practice and qualifying mileage was lost due to technical issues.
Having had very little time to get acquainted with Tolman’s newly acquired Bentley Continental GT3, Stinton and Witt were on the backfoot and were ultimately resigned to 12th on the starting grid, but the objectives remained unchanged, with the entire team simply focused on demonstrating the car’s pace en route to a solid finish.
However, the weather threw a curveball on Sunday, as persistent rain drenched Donington Park and necessitated a switch to an untried and untested wet setup, which was approved during a brief run in the 15-minute morning Warm-Up.
Although the rain abated, the track remained wet and grip was at a premium at the start of the British GT ‘Donington Decider’, but Stinton kept his nose clean and breached the top ten as GT3 rivals span or fought to control lurid slides in the opening exchanges.
Despite completing only three full laps of the 2.49-mile Donington Park Grand Prix circuit prior to the race, Stinton overcame his unfamiliarity with the #84 Continental GT3, steadily lifting his pace, even as his wet weather Pirelli tyres began to overheat on the drying track surface.
The Bromsgrove-domiciled driver completed his first British GT race stint in five years in 11th position overall and third in GT3 Silver-Am, and Witt continued his teammate’s good work during the second half of the two-hour contest.
In fact, the 30-year-old Crewe racer’s personal best lap times on slick tyres ensured Tolman Motorsport ended the weekend as the fastest Bentley Motorsport Team and locked in a third-place result in the GT3 Silver-Am sub-category.
“It was a baptism of fire,” said Stinton. “We had lots of little problems that limited my time in the car to just three laps in free practice, qualifying and the warm-up, but to actually get into the race in such treacherous conditions and to go so well is a real testament to Tolman Motorsport. I was satisfied with my pace until my tyres began to overheat as the track dried out, and I couldn’t be happier to come away from my first British GT Championship race since 2016 and the team’s first ever meeting with the Bentley Continental GT3 with a trophy. The result makes me want to do even better and climb the field to win overall, not just in class.”
Witt said: “We have achieved a very strong result considering we had such little time to pull the programme together and we entered the event having done zero testing miles. Both Ian (Stinton) and I improved massively over the course of the British GT Championship ‘Donington Decider’ weekend, and we really gelled, forming a great partnership. Ian’s lap times got better and better during his race stint, and you can’t ask for much more than that. My job was to maintain track position and bring it home, and I had a good car underneath me that was behaving well, so it’s very positive on the whole.”
Tolman Motorsport Team Principal, Christopher Tolman, said: “I’m ecstatic, because this is possibly the best result we could have hoped for under the circumstances. Neither Ian (Stinton) nor Jordan (Witt) had had any testing time in the car prior to the weekend, we had some electrical gremlins on Saturday and the wet conditions made things a little more difficult, but the car and team performed faultlessly in the race.
“Ian hadn’t done more than three consecutive laps in free practice and qualifying but he drove solidly and made sure the car was in one piece when he passed it to Jordan, who showed his quality. The goal was to be the fastest Bentley, which we were, and to come away with some silverware for a GT3 Silver-Am podium and see the smiles on the drivers’ faces was superb. Some things take a long time to come together, but this programme was formed in just two weeks and every piece of the puzzle fell face-up in the end, and it’s just fantastic to be back at the top end of a high-level category like the Intelligent Money British GT Championship.”