Emphatic start for Invictus Games
Racing in the British GT Championship
season opener at Oulton Park
Steve McCulley and Matt George of Invictus Games Racing win GT4 Pro/Am class in Race 1 of the British GT Championship.
Double podium for McCulley and George in Race 2, claiming 2nd in GT4 Pro/Am and 3rd in GT4 overall.
As the dust starts to settle on the British GT Championship season opener at Oulton Park, the Invictus Games Racing (IGR) team can reflect on how far they have come in such a short time. Plagued with bad luck in 2018, the engineers and mechanics dug deep over the winter months to strip and rebuild the cars in a bid to work through a number of issues the team had encountered during their first season, which for all intents and purposes turned into an R&D year.
The team had a quality driver testing programme for Steve McCulley, Paul Vice MC and Matt George in the lead up to the start of the season, but no one anticipated how well the team would do at the first two rounds of the championship.
Despite being on the back foot at the start of the weekend due to car issues forcing the team to lose half of their practice sessions, showing truly ‘unconquered spirit’ IGR fought back during both races to secure three podiums.
Starting in 16th(3rdin GT4 Pro/Am class), Steve made up a number of places as soon as the lights went out on the rolling start, however, an early safety car on lap two of Race 1 kept the field tight for ten minutes. There had been a number of incidents early on in the race and as soon as the safety car pitted, it was immediately full on again. A solid stint saw Steve bring the car in for the team’s driver change with them 2ndin the Pro/Am class and only a few seconds off the lead group of GT4 cars.
After a very slick driver change, Matt George was out and instantly on the hunt, less than a second off the class leader. After a few laps tussling, George managed an extraordinary overtake round the outside of Martin Plowman’s Aston Martin. With his tyres incinerated by the heat of the track and brake pads wearing fast, George managed to bring home the team’s Jaguar 1stin the GT4 Pro/Am class and 6thoverall.
With George starting Race 2 as the first driver, like McCulley had done in Race 1, he immediately gained a number of places from the start. Another early safety car kept the grid closed up, but this time George was right at the front, 2ndin GT4 Pro/Am and 3rdoverall. As the race approached the half way point and the mandatory pit stop period, one of the Aston Martin GT3 cars went off the track and got beached, so the safety car was called out again.
With some quick thinking by IGR Team Principal James Appleby, he called George into the pits under the safety car, so the team was able to change drivers within the safety car window. McCulley was now 2ndin class and second overall. For 15 minutes he was only a second down on first place, but there was a lapped car in between himself and the leader, which he could not get past. With one of the Ford Mustangs driven by Canadian Pro Scott Maxwell in third and aiming to get past, McCulley put a foot wrong on the exit of turn one, which put him into a spin at 130kmh. Incredibly, even after completing two 360º revolutions, he managed to avoid the barriers and re-joined the race seamlessly, although he’d lost the lead group and was overtaken by a McLaren who was in forth. In the final couple of laps he managed to catch up the lead group and ended up 2ndin class and 3rdoverall.
Steve McCulley and Matt George now lead the GT4 Pro/Am class and are placed joint second in the GT4 overall championship.
Podium images courtesy of Jakob Ebrey