- Simon Paice
Sebastian Priaulx Secures Crucial Points With Hard-Fought Spa Top Six
Sebastian Priaulx and team-mate Scott Maxwell have maintained their points lead in the GT4 class of the British GT Championship after securing a hard-fought top six finish at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium (20/21 July).
It was a special weekend for the Priaulx family as Sebastian’s father Andy joined him in the Multimatic Motorsport team to make his British GT debut. Racing in the sister Ford Mustang GT4 alongside Sir Chris Hoy, it marked the first time the two Priaulx’s would race on the same grid.
Andy’s experience proved invaluable for the #15 crew as both drivers raced at Spa for the first time in their careers. They got up to speed around the 4.35 mile circuit during Saturday’s two free practice sessions, accumulating a total of 35 laps between them.
Whilst that running came in the sunshine, the characteristically unpredictable Spa weather saw sudden heavy rainfall in the run up to qualifying. It stopped just ahead of the session, leaving the bumper 25 car GT4 field to tackle a slowly drying circuit across the two segments of running.
Maxwell went out first and posted the fourth fastest time in the Am session, before a quick lap from Priaulx in the Pro outing ensured their cumulative times placed them third on the grid - the fourth time this season they would start a race inside the top three.
The glorious sunshine returned for race day and Maxwell kicked off the two-hour race behind the wheel. After a busy opening few laps, the Canadian settled into fifth place and went on to hold that position before handing the car over to Priaulx at mid-distance.
Their hopes of challenging for the podium were hampered though by an additional 20 seconds being added to their pitstop time as a success penalty for their victory last time out at Donington Park, which meant the 1st Central, Ravenscroft and Plus Interior supported driver emerged in seventh.
With a seven second gap to the car ahead, the 18 year old got his head down and closed the gap to within a second approaching the final few minutes of the race. While he couldn’t quite make a move stick to overtake, an issue for a driver ahead still moved him up a spot at the finish.
Finishing sixth overall in the GT4 class and fifth of the Silver Cup entry, Priaulx and Maxwell now sit five points clear in the overall GT4 Drivers’ standings. Only two meetings now remain in the 2019 season, with the next race coming at Brands Hatch on 03/04 August.
Sebastian Priaulx: “We knew heading into the weekend that Spa-Francorchamps was a circuit that wouldn’t suit our Ford Mustang compared to others on the calendar, so to come away with a top six finish and the championship lead is fantastic.
“The conditions in qualifying were tricky, so we were delighted to come away third. Scott drove a great stint, but sadly we always knew the pitstop success penalty was going to cost us. I came out a long way off the next car, but pushed hard and got sixth in the end.
“It was an absolute pleasure to share a garage with my Dad and race against him for the first time. We had an intense battle, he was just quicker in qualifying, but I posted a better lap in the race so I think we’re even. I’ve always looked up to him, so this was a special weekend for me.
“While there are only two races left, there’s still a long way to go with the GT4 class as competitive as ever. We’ll take each session as it comes and focus on maximising every opportunity we can. Brands Hatch GP is another brilliant circuit, so I can’t wait to get back there.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography.