RAM Racing secured important points in a chaotic second British GT Championship event, with its M4 GT3 securing a top-five finish in class and being best of the BMWs after a wet and wild Silverstone 500 last weekend.
After a mixed weekend in the season-opening races at Oulton Park, the team’s Pro-Am duo of John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello clawed back ground to finish fifth in their class, while the Mercedes-AMG GT4 pairing of Harry George and Luca Hopkinson had their aims of a top finish scuppered after being bumped off the road twice at the same corner during the three-hour contest. Regardless, the pair somehow fought on to both finish the contest, and score what could be a crucial handful of points come the end of the season.

Rain was forecast to spice up the weekend at the 3.6-mile circuit in Northamptonshire, and it came as early as Saturday morning during Free Practice. The BMW and Mercedes-AMG crews utilised both wet and dry tyres during the two hours of practice, with slicks the choice for the four crucial 10-minute Qualifying sessions.

Ferguson was first up and clocked the 10th fastest time in GT3, matched by reigning GT World Challenge Europe champion Marciello to place the #15 BMW inside the top 10 for Sunday’s main event. In GT4, the #17 crew would finish in 13th in a competitive group, but a solid seventh place on combined times for George and Hopkinson in their respective Silver class.

The team was greeted by heavy rain for warm-up on Sunday morning, which manifested itself to mean both cars stated on wets for the three-hour race in the afternoon.

What followed was a dramatic race which provided different strategies throughout the field. With the race starting behind the safety car, Ferguson and Marciello took advantage of the circumstances to complete their first of three mandatory driver changes early when the race was at a reduced speed. Marciello fought hard to make up ground after the car was hit with a mid-race drive-through penalty under one of three full course yellow interruptions, and recovered into the top 10 in a chaotic final stint to the race.

The GT3 duo came home ninth by the chequered flag, but crucially picked up strong points for fifth place in the Pro-Am class on a weekend where many rivals faltered.

In GT4 it was a case of what could have been for George and Hopkinson. The former took the Mercedes-AMG for the opening stint of the race, and looked strong as he gained places in the early squabbles. What followed was an incident-packed outing, with George first to be out of luck after being collected by Ravi Ramyead’s BMW under braking for the Club chicane.

Despite getting the car back into the race, it was then remarkably punted into a second spin later at the very same corner when an out-of-control McLaren headed backwards into the luckless Mercedes. Now battle-scarred front and rear, somehow the team soldiered on to see the chequered flag, with George and Hopkinson remarkably still grabbing points for finishing seventh in the Silver class.

John Ferguson said: “It was a really tough weekend for us, especially as we feel the BMW is still lacking a bit in the balance of performance. When it came to the race, there wasn’t much more we could have done, so to finish inside the top-10 overall, fifth in class, and be the top BMW in a really competitive field is something. The good thing is we came away with more points, but hopefully we can make some positive changes that put us back in the fight at Donington.”

Raffaele Marciello said: “Frustrating weekend for us but we scored some important points on a difficult day. There is still a lot that we can improve, as we were struggling this weekend. We saw that some of the BMWs have been still doing well like last year, so we will look to improve for Donington. Let’s see how it goes there, but for sure I hope we will make steps forward in the next event.”

Harry George said: “It’s a great event, so I’m gutted with the result because I managed to make up a few positions at the start. We were making decent progress before the first incident – I thought it was game over after that but luckily we got it back out. I’m looking forward to Donington, which is my favourite circuit, so I hope we can do well. The car has been great and I can’t fault it, but hopefully we can make up for it there.”

Luca Hopkinson added: “It was a shame to see the way it played out for us. We struggled after the incidents which were unfortunate, but it’s all part of GT racing I guess! Let’s hope for some better luck at Donington because that’s all we can ask for really. The car’s good, the team’s good, I like Donington, so it’s about the luck going better for us.”

RAM Racing is next in action at Donington Park for another three-hour contest over the weekend of 25/26 May.