Horsham’s Alex Reed sensationally achieved his maiden race win in the 2016 Pirelli British GT Championship flyaway at Belgium’s mythical Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps at the weekend.
Congestion and red flag stoppages frustrated Reed and Lanan Racing teammate Joey Foster in first practice, but further progress was made in FP2 when they topped the boards for Ginetta.
Qualifying was preceded by a sharp rain shower that saturated sector two of the lap, and hopes of a strong result faded.
While Reed raced to the podium on his previous visit to the Belgian circuit as a competitor in the Lotus Cup UK, a wet Spa was still a little intimidating.
With a dry setup on grooved tyres and a part-wet, part-dry circuit, the driver was some two and a half seconds quicker than the nearest Ginetta at the end of GT4 qualifying, and a stellar performance by teammate Foster guaranteed second place in class.
However, the polesitting McLaren appeared untouchable and initially extended its advantage in Saturday’s two-hour race. Reed, meanwhile, took the start and did well to snake his way past a spectacular first-corner shunt, before holding his own against drivers from the European GT4 scene.
The teenager kept a watching brief on the pursuing Optimum Motorsport entry, before pushing on and closing in on the leading McLaren, which eventually ground to a halt approaching mid-distance.
“We’re P1 boys,” Reed exclaimed over team radio, before breathing a big sigh of relief upon handing the reins to Foster, whose focus was primarily on tyre and traffic management and maintaining a healthy advantage over Optimum Motorsport in P2.
Foster’s pace was sufficient and he successfully brought the Lanan Racing Ginetta across the finish to achieve a maiden British GT race victory for him and Reed.
The Horsham driver said: “To achieve my maiden British GT win is amazing and Spa is the best place to do it! We wanted a win from the start, but never thought it would be possible at Silverstone and Spa, but that’s where we’ve been most competitive.
“I’d say I actually was the bravest driver in the paddock, as I was flat through Eau Rouge on every lap!
“FP1 was awful and we achieved nothing, FP2 went better and we ended up as the lead Ginetta and qualifying was a little intimidating, as we went out into the unknown, having never driven Spa in the wet before. We were surprised to be P2 at the end of the day.
“I never thought we’d be capable of keeping pace with the McLaren in the race, but I thought they might suffer in terms of reliability and that proved to be the case. I made sure we were in a position to pick up the scraps with a mistake-free run and, ultimately, it was a perfect race.
“Optimum Motorsport was quicker at the end of each stint, but we managed the traffic and tyre wear well and I felt a lot of relief when we took the chequered flag. Winning at Spa is amazing and a dream for every driver.
“I definitely want to achieve more as we return to the UK and tracks that typically suit the Ginetta. It will be difficult with a success penalty at Snetterton, but Donington is a possibility.”