- Simon Paice
Sebastian Priaulx Fights To The End With British GT Finale Podium
Sebastian Priaulx kept himself in contention for the 2019 British GT Championship ‘GT4’ title right down to the final lap of the season, with a spirited performance earning him and team-mate Scott Maxwell a third podium finish of the campaign at Donington Park (14/15 September).
From fifth on the grid, Maxwell and Priaulx put in fantastic stints to climb up to second place at the finish, agonisingly just one position away from where they needed to be. They end the campaign as vice-champions in both the overall GT4 Drivers standings and the Silver Cup rankings.
Priaulx and the Multimatic Motorsports team came into the weekend knowing they had great pace at Donington Park in their Ford Mustang GT4, having superbly converted pole position into a race win during the championship’s first visit back in June.
They immediately showed that speed once again during the two free practice sessions on Saturday. After Maxwell posted the fastest GT4 time in the opener, Priaulx recorded the second quickest lap in the session two to ensure the 18 year old was full of confidence ahead of qualifying.
While unfortunately they couldn’t quite replicate their practice results, Maxwell’s seventh quickest time in the GT4 Am session and fourth for Priaulx in the Pro segment meant their combined results securing them fifth on the grid for Sunday’s two-hour season finale race.
The 1st Central Insurance, Ravenscroft and Plus Interiors supported driver watched on as Maxwell took on the opening hour of the race, with the Canadian putting in a great performance to take fourth early on and maintain it through to the pitstop window.
Priaulx, who was recently selected to become part of the prestigious BRDC Rising Star programme, emerged from the pitstop shuffle in the same position but quickly set about making progress. After passing one TF Sport Aston Martin, the next target was their team-mate.
That coincidentally was Priaulx’s chief championship rivals. After closing down a two second gap, the Guernseyman was right on his rival's tail as the safety car came out. At the restart he wasted no time, with a great dive down the inside at Coppice securing him second place.
At this stage, Priaulx knew that if he could go on to win the race he and Maxwell would be crowned the champions. While the safety car had helped close the gap to the GT4 class leader, it sadly proved to be an unassailable task in the final 20 minutes.
Taking the chequered flag in second place meant that they finished only 7.5 points adrift in the standings, a remarkable performance in a debut British GT season for the team, the car, Priaulx and Maxwell. They ended a fantastic campaign with two wins, three podiums and three pole positions.
Sebastian Priaulx: “The weekend started really well with top two pace in both free practice sessions, but we knew that come qualifying the competition would step up. We pushed hard in both segments and we were happy with fifth, knowing that we had strong race pace for Sunday.
“Scott [Maxwell] put in a fantastic first stint to keep out of trouble and hold us right in the mix heading into the pitstops. I knew it was going to be a tough ask getting through to the front when I got behind the wheel, but I was certainly going to give it a good go.
“It was a tricky stint as I had to push hard, but knew just one mistake could cost us dear. I gave it absolutely everything I had and tried everything I could to close to the leader. Sadly it wasn’t quite enough to get the win and the title, but we confirmed again just how quick we are.
“Even though we missed out on the title, it has still been an amazing season. We’ve won two races, bounced back well from tough situations, been in with a shout of winning the title through to the final lap of the season and most of all, we’ve all enjoyed our racing.
“A massive thank you to Larry Holt and everybody at Multimatic Motorsports for the experience this season. I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. Thank you to my sponsors for their valuable support, and to my family for always being there for me.
“Like all racing drivers, the end of the season is a horrible moment as all we want to do is go out there and race. I’m looking forward to what next season brings, whatever it may be.”
Image from Jakob Ebrey Photography