Cromer racer Alistair MacKinnon has sights set on British GT Championship podium place

Alistair MacKinnon leading a pack of cars at Rockingham. Picture: Jakob Ebrey

Alistair MacKinnon leading a pack of cars at Rockingham. Picture: Jakob Ebrey - Credit: Archant

After an eventful start to the British GT Championship at Oulton Park, Cromer's Alistair MacKinnon bounced back with fourth place at Rockingham – which he hopes will lead to a podium place in the upcoming Silverstone 500, the blue riband event of the series.

'Our results at Oulton Park don't really reflect our performance and at Rockingham a late safety car played into our rivals' hands helping to preserve their tyres. Without that, I think we would have taken third,' explained MacKinnon.

The local racer has been teamed with rising star Lewis Plato, no relation to the evergreen BTCC driver Jason Plato, in a RAM Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to contest this year's British GT Championship.

'I am absolutely thrilled to be given this opportunity,' said MacKinnon, who, like many in the field, found the going tough at Oulton Park after qualifying in fourth place.

A 12th-lap incident, involving some of the leading cars, resulted in several damaged vehicles and MacKinnon initially receiving a reprimand, later rescinded after officials reviewed video footage. However, it was too late for a five-place grid penalty to be scrubbed as the race had taken place.

'That was frustrating as the penalty stood and forced us to start further back than necessary,' MacKinnon added.

This left Plato 13th on the grid for race two, with MacKinnon losing a late battle for seventh place on the final lap to Mark Farmer's Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

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The team bounced back in the two-hour Rockingham race with a strong fourth place. Starting from 10th at the Corby venue, MacKinnon climbed up to fifth place before handing over to Plato.

The youngster made up another position to run fourth and, despite gaining on the cars ahead, was unable to take the final podium place.

'The Mercedes is a big heavy car which should suit the up-coming Silverstone, Spa Francorchamps and Snetterton tracks much more than the tight twisty Oulton Park and Rockingham infield section,' explained MacKinnon, who is competing in his first season in the top GT3 category of the British GT Championship.

'Lewis and I are one of the closest pairings on the grid and I am much better in long distance races than a 20-minute sprint, so podium places are within our reach.'

The Snetterton-constructed Ralph Firman Racing cars continue to perform well in America with the local firm twice missing out on a podium position in the latest FF2000 races at the iconic Watking Glen circuit.

Austin McCusker qualified the locally-built car in eighth place and in the 14-lap race around the upper New York state track steadily worked his way into fourth place, but ran out of laps to close down the top three.

In race two McCusker continued to rack up the points with another fourth-place finish to follow on from third and fifth places in the opening two races at the Road Atlanta circuit, while elder brother John had a miserable opening race to finish 18th before crashing out of race two.

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