China GT concludes with another familiar face

China GT concludes with another familiar face

Forgetting that the final round of the 2017 China GT Championship was moved forward a week by virtue of the annual Communist Party Conference being in session this week, we find that Prodrive supplied another familiar name from the British GT scene to help out the China Equity AMR team.

With Ross Gunn already having made his mark in the previous two rounds at Shanghai and Chengdu it was the turn of MacMillan Racing's Jack Mitchell to help out in the #618 China Equity AMR car in the final two races of the year from the Zhejiang International Circuit in eastern China.

In the footsteps of Gunn, Mitchell and co driver Yang Mengquai placed their V8 Vantage GT4 car on pole for the first race before converting that to a twenty second race win before then going on to claim P2 for the second and final race of the year. Sadly, it was not to be in the second race as Mengquai crashed out on the installation lap in horrible track conditions immediately prior to the start and was hence not classified as a starter.

The results from Zhejiang leave China Equity AMR P2 overall in the GT4 class behind championship winning team - The Winning Team! Customer Team ZEA FEA Racing, who incidentally were able to call apon the driving services of Adderly Fong for last weekend finish P5 overall

Photo credits - China GT

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 |
Busy times for AMR factory drivers

Busy times for AMR factory drivers

Straight off the back of a very frustrating World Endurance Championship event in Fuji last weekend, all four four GTE Pro drivers are back on duty over in Spain this week pounding in the laps in the final preparatory tests for their new for 2018 Vantage GTE.

This extended level of racing duty will be placing a serious level physical drain on drivers like Darren Turner and Nicki Thiim who still have their own AMR customer team duties to fulfil this weekend as both Beechdean AMR and TF Sport respectively look to see out their seasons in the European Le Mans Series from Portugal.

The #90 TF Sport car that Thiim shares with Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey does of course have every hope of lifting the GTE crown in Portimao having lead the series from the start.
At least the presence of Thiim at this test from Navarra in northern Spain puts pay to any suspicion of his future participation within the AMR team next year as this is the first GTE test that he (and indeed others) have publicly shared his participation in.

From the drivers social media accounts, you will see that the tests have been blessed with yet more rain and whilst that may help Dunlop improve their range of wet weather tyres for the new turbo charged V8 car it will surely hinder the cars overall development at this critical stage.

Perhaps they should have stayed in the UK - nice and dry here!!

Photo credits - AMR / Dunlop

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 |
Two Astons see out 2017 VLN Series

Two Astons see out 2017 VLN Series

This weekend sees the ninth and final round of the 2017 VLN Series from the infamous Nordschleife circuit with another two runners form the Aston Martin stable seeing an otherwise successful year out.

The sole remaining full season Mathol Racing prepared Avia Racing AMR V8 Vantage GT4 entry will be back after their disappointing non finish last time out earlier this month with their #188 SP10 class car.

Thinking that they were the sole AMR/AML runner last time out, they will again joined by the Aston Martin Test Centre Vantage S entry for Heinz Jurgen Kroner and Wolfgang Schuhbauer in their golden #144 car.

On a whole the Green Hell has been good for Aston Martin with numerous class podia throughout the VLN series plus a class win for the AML entered Vantage GT8 in the ADAC N24 headline event back in May.

That previous VLN entry has skipped the last two rounds of the series as the team  prepare themselves for its first transatlantic crossing in readiness for the 24H Series event from CoTA early next month.

Photo credits - VLN
Wednesday, October 18, 2017 |
Turner taking the few positives he can from a difficult Fuji

Turner taking the few positives he can from a difficult Fuji

Darren Turner and his Aston Martin Racing team mate, Jonny Adam, finished the 6 Hours of Fuji in sixth place in the GTE Pro class on Sunday. Held at Fuji Speedway in Japan, Round 7 of the FIA World Endurance Championship was stopped after 4.5 hours due to bad weather and peppered with safety cars, red flags and slow zones.

“We knew before we arrived that it was going to be a difficult weekend when we saw the weather forecast,” said Turner. “The Fuji circuit is always a challenge but it becomes all the more so when it is wet.”

The weather was bad throughout the event but the weather gods saved their best for last on race day, delivering rain and fog for the start of the race.

The race started under the Safety Car with Adam behind the wheel of the #97 Aston Martin, which had lined up in eighth position. Shortly after the conclusion of the first hour the race was red flagged as the fog had caused the conditions to become too treacherous. The entire field of WEC cars lined up on the start/finish straight to await a break in the weather, which came along 30 minutes later.

“This race was completely different to anything we have seen for a while,” said Turner. “We had two red flags, six safety cars and slow zones all over the place! With the pace that we had we were never going to be able to fight at the front so our strategy was designed to make the most of any scenario that would give us an advantage.”

The team did a great job of maximising those opportunities and Turner and Adam were able to complete the race in sixth place when it was red flagged for the second and final time at the 4.5 hour mark.

“Sixth place is obviously not the best result but we scored some points in a difficult weekend,” said Turner. The focus is now very much on Shanghai where hopefully the weather will be better!”

Source material - Darren Turner PR
Monday, October 16, 2017 |
Fuji - one to forget for Aston Martin Racing

Fuji - one to forget for Aston Martin Racing

It wouldn't be far wrong to suggest that the best things to come out of the 6 hours of Fuji as far as Aston Martin Racing were concerned would be just a cracking set of photographs for the family album!

Having arrived at the Fuji Speedway already as rank outsiders to retain their GTE Pro titles, the void between their venerable V8 Vantage and the newer Ferrari's, Porsche's and Ford's with their superior Michelin full wet tyres was all too evident again as the six other cars within the GTE Pro all left the #95 and #97 cars languishing at the foot of the Free Practice sessions timings screen.

With each of the Free Practice sessions being wet, a wet Qualifying going into an expected very wet race wasn't looking very good for the team already suffering from grip and traction problems and it came as no real surprise to see their two Pro cars qualifying in P6 and P8 - split only by the #71 Ferrari who had issues of their own on track.

Over in Am class, the performance of the team's championship leading #98 car wasn't fairing much better either with the usually reliable trio of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla-Lana and Mathias Lauda all struggling to keep up with their own advisories in class, but would at least be starting the race mid way in their group.

Sunday was again a very wet affair with the opening 15 minutes of the race spent behind the Safety Car. Early radio traffic from some of the drivers in the GT pack commented on the poor visibility available to them even at those lower speeds - comments clearly earmarked for Race Control.

With all having had to hold station behind the Safety Car, such were the handling issues for the AMR's that the Pro cars quickly found themselves amongst and being passed by the leading trio of Am cars - notably the two Ferrari 488's and by the end of the first half hour of racing they were down to P7 and P8.

With a near zero wind speed, all the moisture being catapulted into the amphitheatre of the Fuji circuit left a lingering cloud/fog base leading to significant visibility issues going into T1. Indeed, after just 40 minutes of racing Race Control effected an elongated Yellow zone for most of Sector 1

Unfortunately for the race that proved insufficient and that track restriction was soon escalated into a full Safety Car period for the next thirty minutes before the race was then suspended under a red flag with 4hours 40mins still to go. With the race clock still running a further half an hour of race time would be lost to the enforced break.

Once the race resumed the pain simply continued for the team in green despite all of their best efforts, on track and within the garages. Race positions were interchanged with other but they were mainly due to the other team's pit sequence of penalty serving requirements - Fuji was going to be a long day at the WEC office.

Thirty minutes after the restart came the second and a quick third Safety Car period all due to visibility issues ion track and they would last for another 50 minutes or so with slow zones restrictions in force afterwards. A sizeable crash for an LMP2 car after the restart was only narrowly avoided by the #95 with blinded #98 finding itself travelling through the debris field before a fourth Safety Car was brought out to deal with the consequences of that.

Some track shenanigans between the #67 Ford and #92 Porsche started with a spinning 911 RSR before the #67 went on to spear itself into the barrier under braking at T1 leading to a FCY to recover the stricken car.

With just over 100 minutes of racing time remaining, the first and final point of racing note for AMR came as Thiim was having a 'decent looking' scrap with the #71 Ferrari for position - albeit for P6 however the writing was already on the wall for the race as Safety Car no 5 was again deployed because of the poor visibility.

As the race clock struck 1:29:00 to go the second red flag of the race was served and although Race Control spent the remaining time trying to get the race restarted the race was finally abandoned with 15 minutes left.

The results from Fuji have lost the #95 any chance of retaining their 2016 titles and more importantly cost the #98 the lead of the Am Championship with two races to go with the penultimate round of the WEC coming from Shanghai in just over two weeks time. With the race also being declared wet there is little chance of any positive BoP adjustments being made prior to Shanghai.

For the Pro guys, it sounds like its back to Spain for some more testing with their new for 2018 GTE with full emphasis looking ahead to next season whilst the #98 Am side of the team look for improvements at another race venue that maybe wet.

Photo credits - AMR

Monday, October 16, 2017 |
CMRT Eurasia - Blancpain GT Asia Champions!!

CMRT Eurasia - Blancpain GT Asia Champions!!

Congratulations go out today to the CMRT by Eurasia team and drivers Kenneth Lim and James Cai who earlier today secured their second class win of the weekend to claim the Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am Class Championship.

Having entered the final meeting of the series at the Zhejiang Circuit, China with a twelve point deficit to the long time class leading Lamborghini, these two race wins were enough to overcome this and to secure (subject to official confirmation) the GT3 Am Class title by five points.

Racing in conditions similar to what was seen at the WEC event at Fuji this morning, Lim was able to capitalise from an early error from Andrew Haryanto in his Lamborghini after the earlier Safety Car starting procedure to lead Haryanto by nearly thirty seconds at the end of the first lap!

That domination extended during the course of the race for Cai to take the chequered flag and the championship by over 15 seconds to P2 and 34 seconds to Haryanto in P3.

Well done guys!
Sunday, October 15, 2017 |
Winner takes all in Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am finale

Winner takes all in Blancpain GT Asia GT3 Am finale

The best way to keep your championship aspirations alive going into the final two races of the season is by placing yourself on the top step of your class podium at the end of race one - obviously!

That is precisely what the #69 CMRT by Eurasia car did and by starting at the rear of the grid makes their efforts even more applaudable as driver Kenneth Lim and James Cai overcame a difficult preparation to the race weekend to overtake the whole GT3 Am class and beat the championship leader Andrew Haryanto by over 18 seconds at the end of a very wet and incident packed race.

That result leaves the #69 V12 Vantage GT3 crew just five points behind Haryanto going into tomorrows final race of the season, this time separated by just a single place on the grid.

Winner takes all ……………!!

Photo credit - Blancpain GT
Saturday, October 14, 2017 |
Hoping for better track conditions tomorrow in WEC

Hoping for better track conditions tomorrow in WEC

Why is it it never rains at Fuji Speedway - it just pours down?!!!

Sadly for all runners, track workers and race fans at the circuit that is basically what it did all day today dramatically affecting the first two Free Practice sessions of the meeting.

FP1 was the best of the bunch - still wet but manageable seemed to the voice of opinion coming from the circuit earlier this morning. In almost Aston Martin Racing characteristic style, all three V8 Vantage GTE cars featured towards the rear of the timing charts in both classes as the team methodically cycled through their setup programme expected for the 6hours of Fuji.

In GTE Pro, the conditions were such that the fastest lap times during FP1 were over seven seconds down to those of this stage last year. Sadly conditions worsened still further for Free Practice 2 to a point where a sizeable off for an LMP2 car lost the grid almost half of their available track time - not that track time was actually worth much with GTE Pro times dropping a further five seconds from FP1 to what was ran in 2016!

If weather conditions persist, and all indications point that they might well do then the event will turn into a survival of the fittest come the race with race strategy being more more reactionary than by design.

Lets hope not as the Japanese fan deserves more

Tomorrow sees the third and final Free Practice before Qualifying at 14:30hrs local (GMT -8Hrs)

Photo credits - AMR
Friday, October 13, 2017 |
More of please in 2018

More of please in 2018

It was great to see, even though only via some sporadic photographs posted upon various social media streams this week of the complete family of Beechdean AMR cars running at a British race track venue.

Reliably informed of the day being a corporate day for one of the team's partner company's, Beechdean drivers past and present in the form of Andrew Howard, Ross Gunn, Jamie Chadwick and Olly Bryant were all on hand to show off the teams DBRS9, Vantage GT4, Vantage GT3 and Vantage GTE for those at the circuit.

Reading of what the team hope to achieve in 2018, the infamous blue and white livery should be a little more conspicuous both the the UK and in Europe next year.

Thats always a welcome sight!
Friday, October 13, 2017 |