Come prepared to the Donington Decider!

Come prepared to the Donington Decider!

Six months ago the British GT Championship kicked off with their first race of the 2018 season from Oulton Park under what could only be described as deteriorating track conditions, conditions that finally lead to the abandonment of their second race of the day.

Eight highly entertaining and eventful races later, the final two hours of the 2018 Championship is due to start at Donington Park this Sunday with most of the GT3 and GT4 Championships still to be resolved with the event deservedly still claiming its Donington Decider hashtag.

Sadly for this event and for those drivers who still have a possibility of championship success, they appear to need to quickly rekindle their wet weather racing abilities as it looks like the finale will suffer similar weather conditions as befell the opening round with weather warnings for significant rainfall and blustery winds in place for much of the weekend.

Whilst it appears that Saturday's Free Practice and Qualifying sessions should see mainly dry running conditions with rain not forecasted until towards the end of the days schedule and overnight it does appear that the race is due to be 'hit' to some degree with an increasing intensity of rainfall and increasing windspeed likely.

Should this happen, this will obviously lead to treacherous track conditions for the drivers and for some potentially soggy watching for the spectators - so if you do come and please do come  - just come prepared!

Hopefully, track conditions and events on track will allow the venerable Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage GT3 see out her British GT career as a factory supported chassis in style with a win and a Championship (maybe)!

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey

Thursday, September 20, 2018 |
No big entries yet from AMR into latest round of VLN

No big entries yet from AMR into latest round of VLN

Despite Aston Martin Racing driver Darren Turner dangling a carrot of a possible significant future entry form the factory team into the remainder of the 2018 VLN Series, this weekend's seventh round of the series see no surprises with its AMR related entries.

Full season and long suffering Avia Racing will be back again with their SP10 (GT4) class Vantage desperate no doubt to break their recent run of back luck that has seen too many DNF's listed on the results card for them to be contented with. Drivers Weber, Krebs and Johansson will be looking for at least a finish in the eleven strong class on Saturday.

There is also a little confusion on the entry list for this team and their three drivers as they are also listed against the #950 Fanclub Mathol (the name of the team that prepares and races their Vantage) Porsche Cayman GT4 apparently racing in the Cup 3 class!

Joining them in the sole AMR Performance Centre car, the #150 SP8 Class Vantage (used by many AMR customers earning their full Nordschleife permit) will be customer pairing Marco Muller and Erik Manning.

No excursions for the Aston Martin Vantage GT8 this week after Darren Turner shared the work load within that car last time out - but we have seen one snippet of a another young man from within the AMR camp suggesting a future experience at the circuit sometime soon!

Photo credits - VLN

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 |
Donington decider just around the corner

Donington decider just around the corner

Eight exciting races later and we have again reached a 'winner takes all' conclusion to the 2018 British GT Championship as Sundays two hour race will again determine both the GT3 and GT4 overall winners in what's now aptly become known as the #DoningtonDecider!

Earlier this month we saw what may just be a significant decision in deciding the final outcome of the GT3 Championship with the overturning an earlier race steward time penalty imposed upon the Optimum Motorsport car after race 1 from Snetterton back in May that reinstated the full race points initially claimed to the #75 V12 Vantage GT3 crew of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam at the chequered flag. As a result of that decision, Adam and Haigh now enter Sunday's two hour finale with a 27.5 points over long time championship leaders Jon Minshaw & Phil Keen with their Barwell Lamborghini and by a further point ahead of TF Sport's Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim.

Only these three crews are in contention for the overall GT3 crown but with just 37.5 points on offer the latter two crews chances will be subject to the finishing positions of others. However, it is important to remember that recent Championship history has indeed proven that stranger things can and indeed do sometimes happen so all is not yet concluded!

Then late last week came the shock news that TF Sport's Derek Johnston will be making his 'home' event his last as the former British GT GT3 Champion will be hanging up his race helmet to competitive motorsport at least come the close of play Sunday afternoon. Never a stranger to wearing his heartstrings upon his sleeve we can be sure that the atmosphere will be somewhat emotional whatever the outcome for him and the team in their final race of the year in the Championship.

To Derek - its been great watching you race in the national GT series,  more so obviously when you came over to TF Sport in only their second year aboard one of their Vantage GT3's with Matt Bell. It was then a real privilege to see you lift the GT3 Championship at Donington just a year later with Jonny and we thank you for both your involvement and your time. Have a great finale and hopefully you and Marco will stick in on the podium for an AMR 1-2-3.

Rounding out the GT3 side of things, the #17 TF Sport car of Johnston/Sorensen will be having their own inter AMR battle as just over twenty points separate them from the Andrew Howard/Darren Turner Beechdean AMR car and the Jetstream Vantage of Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin as they all look to pass the ERC Mercedes team for fourth overall in class.

In GT4, Academy Motorsport will see out their season with just the remotest of championship possibilities for team boss Matt Nichol-Jones/Will Moore laying in fifth but that would involve the top four GT4 Championship cars ahead of them not finishing. The young gun line up of Jan Jonck/Tom Wood in the teams second V8 Vantage have endured something of a 'nightmare' of a season with technical issues too regularly taking the car out of competitive running positions.

Donington will also probably be the final time that we see the current iteration of V12 GT3 and V8 Vantage GT4 race their way around the national circuits as most (if not all) the main British GT teams are understood to have committed to buying the new turbo charged version of the Vantage GT3 and GT4 once both platforms have completed their development testing and homologation over the winter.

Thats sad in some respect but at least there is plenty to look forward to in 2019!

We will also keep an eye of for Jack Mitchell who presently stands at the top of the GT4 Drivers Championship table. Although racing this year in a BMW M4, he does of course make up a winning half to a China Equity AMR racing line up over in the China GT Championship this year!

Timetable for the weekend's event

Saturday 22 September
09:40 – 10:40: Free Practice 1
12:00 – 13:00: Free Practice 2
15:55 – 16:05: Qualifying – GT3 Am
16:09 – 16:19: Qualifying – GT3 Pro
16:23 – 16:33: Qualifying – GT4 Am
16:38 – 16:48: Qualifying – GT4 Pro

Sunday 23 September
09:35 – 09:45: Warm-up
12:30 – 13:00: Pitwalk and driver autograph session
13:35 – 15:35: Race

Photo credit - Podium Jacob Ebrey
Monday, September 17, 2018 |
Red River Sport looks good in an AMR Vantage!

Red River Sport looks good in an AMR Vantage!

Now that the news of Red River Sport entering a TF Sport prepared Aston Martin Racing V12 Vantage into the 2018-2019 Asian Le Mans Series has finally been announced earlier today, we can now bring you more of the photographs that regular contributor Steve Jackman obtained from the team's test at Silverstone last month.

We understand that such was the status of the agreement between the two parties at that time that when approached team boss Tom Ferrier about it he kindly requested that we kept these images to ourselves until now.

Judging by the render of the car's new livery for the series we can see that the venerable Vantage wears her new colours well and will probably be quite distinctive on track and proves that despite being 'pensioned' off by the factory in favour of their yet to be homologated turbo charged new Vantage, the V12 is still considered to be very much a winner as many series and races around the world have proven this year.

We of course wish them all the best in the Series that starts in Shanghai at the end of November!

Photo credits - Steve Jackman
Monday, September 17, 2018 |
Red River Sport pair up with TF Sport for Asian Le Mans campaign

Red River Sport pair up with TF Sport for Asian Le Mans campaign

An unexpected by-product of looking at some photos from a general test at Silverstone last month led us to stumbling across a new but as yet unannounced race programme for TF Sport and their latest customer - Red River Sport.

Having undertaken a very successful inaugural event aboard one of Aston Martin Racings V8 Vantage GT4 platforms at the AMR Festival support race at Le Mans this year, Red River Sports Jonny Mowlem, Bonamy Grimes and Ivor Dunbar were seen conducting what was presumably a final confirmation test before committing for the project that will see the trio race in the Asian Le Mans Series over the European winter months as both Dunbar and Grimes prepare themselves for the inevitable test at the Le Man 24Hr itself.

“This opportunity to compete in the Asian Le Mans Series surfaced recently,” explained TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “It will be a new and exciting challenge for everyone at TF Sport. We’re very proud of our history and results and we’ve proven we can run at the front, take wins and challenge for championships at every level.

“In saying that, we never underestimate the competition and it is will be a pleasure to work with Red River Sport in helping them with their longer-term ambitions.”

It is understood that their new Asian campaign will be aboard one of the teams older generation V12 Vanatge GT3 in the four round championship that begins with the Shanghai round before traveling on to Fuji, Buriram and Sepang.

Photo credits - Steve Jackman

Photo credits - Steve Jackman
Monday, September 17, 2018 |
Lola AMR DBR1-2 - very much a winner at Spa

Lola AMR DBR1-2 - very much a winner at Spa

They say that local knowledge is as good as an extra few horsepower and that was certainly the case at Spa Francorchamps this weekend as local man Christophe D'Ansembourg powered his way to two Masters Series Endurance Legends race wins aboard his iconic Aston Martin Lola DBR1-2.

Having lost out to the pace of Steve Tandy's recently acquired Lola Mazda before, the Belgium claimed overall pole position for the first race yesterday by just over half a second. Shaun Lynn grabbed class honours in his former JMW G3 GT3 class Vantage GT2 with Colin Sowter a further three places back albeit some eight seconds behind that in his former JWA Vantage GT2. Nikolaus Ditting found himself totally outgunned in his AM DBR9 by the #29 Ferrari 550.

Race 1 into the dusk of Friday night was a lights to flag race win for D'Ansembourg and his Aston Martin Lola finishing ahead of Tandy by just over five seconds. Both Vantage GT2's suffered during the during the forty minute race to finish off the podium in P4 and P5 with Sowter also being a lap down to the class winners.

Starting from pole for Saturday's second and final race of the Spa 6Hr weekend was a much closer affair for D'Ansembourg, just managing to keep Tandy and the following Peugeot 908X behind to claim his second event win of the weekend by less than two seconds. 

Dittings performance on track with his older DBR9 was compounded in this race with a 23 second penalty being awarded for speeding in the pit lane but at least for Lynn, he managed to improve from his P16 grid start position to claim second in class.

The grid will now reconvene for the Series last event of the season at Dijon, France in mid October.

Photo credits - Masters Historic

Saturday, September 15, 2018 |
Get a message out on the roof of an Aston at Donington

Get a message out on the roof of an Aston at Donington

Having now made his through a very trying inaugural British GT Championship season, Academy Motorsport racer Tom Wood is offering space aboard his Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 for any message that you may have for him at his local event.

For a measly one hundred of your pre Brexit pounds sterling (and if you get in touch with Tom over the next few days) you could see your personal message race around the Donington Park circuit next weekend as he and co driver Jan Jonck look to see off the first season together in style.

Depending upon how the development and homologation of AMR's new Vantage GT4 platform goes over the next few months, this final round of the British GT should also see out the racing service of the older generation car that Academy have solely entered this season before teams look to secure examples of the new car in readiness for 2019.

Tom can be contacted via any of his social media profiles

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey
Friday, September 14, 2018 |
Classic Aston Martins back on track at the Spa 6Hr meeting

Classic Aston Martins back on track at the Spa 6Hr meeting

The Masters Endurance Legends Series returns to the circuit of its 'creation' last year as the expected twenty two car field reconvenes for its penultimate round of its inaugural season at Spa Francorchamps this weekend.

Four pedigree racing cars from the Aston Martin Racing stable again make the trip with last time out winners of race two of the Old Timers Grand Prix event from the Nurburgring, the Christophe D'Ansembourg Lola Aston Martin DBR1-2 competing on its home track and supported along the way by a DBR9 and two Vantage GT2's.

Shaun Lynn (father of Aston Martin Racing GTE driver Alex) pilots the former JMW Dunlop livered Vantage GT2 along with Colin Sowter again in the ex JWA Vantage GT2. Nikolaus Ditting completes the line up aboard his green DBR9.

The Endurance Legends Series will feature two 40 minute races over both Friday and Saturday.

Photo credits - Master Historic Legends / Steve Jackman / RL
Thursday, September 13, 2018 |
Donington decider to see out Johnstons racing career

Donington decider to see out Johnstons racing career

With just one round of the 2018 British GT Championship remaining, Derek Johnston has decided to announce his racing retirement following a long and successful career in both two and four-wheel competition.

His final start will be at the British GT Championship season finale at Donington Park, a fitting location as he claimed the drivers’ championship there in 2016 and it is of course his favourite circuit on the calendar and one that has been central to his race career.

Derek Johnston

“TF Sport are just like family, I’ll miss them and it will be sad for sure at the end in Donington. TF are such good friends, but I know that I’ll stay friends with them all.

“I’ve loved British GT and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the Paddock and the professionalism, but I have nothing left to prove there and most importantly, I have nothing to prove to myself because I have achieved far more than I ever thought I would.

“I made the decision to retire from racing earlier in the year and I’ve not regretted that. I’m sure I’ll test cars again, but I’m stopping racing and I’m happy to stop.”

Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director

“Derek Johnston was our first headline signing at TF Sport. As a driver he has evolved with us as a team and we are very happy to have helped him win the championship in 2016. Derek is a racer at heart and we will miss him!”

Source material - TF Sport
Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey

Thursday, September 13, 2018 |
Remainder of weekend's racing action

Remainder of weekend's racing action

With track action from Donington and Shanghai already grabbing our attention from over the weekend, we also saw a further quartet of Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's take to the track at Many-Cours, Snetterton and Laguna Seca.

Having already misidentified the drivers aboard the #144 Generation AMR SuperRacing car that took part in the fourth round of the French FFSA GT4 Championship, it was of course team principle James Appleby who returned to the drivers seat alongside regular driver Matt George in lieu of the cars normal co driver James Holder - the first time that we can recall Appleby competing in a race weekend for some time!

Despite having to jet set it across much of England and France to be at the circuit in time after some British GT testing aboard the Invictus Games Racing Jaguar GT4, the adrenalin was obviously still pumping as the #144 submitted some good lap times to Qualify 13th for the first race before finishing 7th overall on Saturday.

Issues for George in Qualifying 2 saw him start Sundays race from 15th before being further compounded during the race, and despite some strange racing lines being adopted, a lowly P34 finish (6 laps down) was the best that they could do.

EDF Motorsport returned to the Snetterton round of the Dunlop Britcar Endurance Championship on Saturday, the first race for drivers Mal Sandford and Ben Seyfried since damaging their V8 Vantage GT4 at Oulton Park in an earlier round.

During the mornings 50 minute sprint race, technical issues saw Sandford having to pit the car for another DNF in the Championship but better fortune was to be had in the day when the #10 car finished 7th overall after that two hour race.

Finally, we saw Florida based Automatic Racing be rewarded for hauling their two V8 Vantage GT4's across from one side of the USA to the other for the tenth round of the IMSA Continental Tyre Sportscar Championship from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

After the teams 'hardship' of loosing a car last time out at Road America, it was great to see the #99 car of Kris Wilson and Gary Ferrera take P7 overall after 90 minutes of running on the sun soaked track with the teams #9 car of Brandon Kidd and Rob Ecklin Jnr finishing P14 in the eighteen strong GS class of the thirty six car field.

Photo credits - FFSA / EDF Motorsport / Automatic Racing

Wednesday, September 12, 2018 |
Not exactly according to script for R-Motorsport in Barcelona

Not exactly according to script for R-Motorsport in Barcelona

For too long have we been without any AMR representation in the 24H Series so far this year so it was great to see one of R-Motorsports beefy V12 Vantage GT3's take to the grid for the twenty four hour slog around the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona at the weekend.

With the distinctly liveried grey and blue liveried car more accustomed to the competitive grid of the Blancpain GT Series, team boss Andreas Baenziger took a more than abled band of drivers with him to Spain for what was to their first experience of the Creventic style of racing.

Starting the race from the second row of the grid, the #620 A6-Am Class car looked to be in good stead for a decent race against more seasoned 24H Series competitors with its driving line up including seasoned VLN/N24 drivers in Markus Lungstrass and Peter Leemhuis joining Blancpain GT driver Jake Dennis. Featuring in the Am class was certainly no indicator to a lesser, inexperienced line up with a very strong and proficient Arden team working on the car to boot.

Early conflict for the car whilst Jake Dennis was at the wheel lead to significant time delay whilst the team replaced the front splitter and under tray but the team soon about trying to reclaim those laps lost to the class competitors and they inputted good steady laps by the time the race entered the night only for Dennis to claim the fastest lap of the race in total darkness!

Watching an interview with Baenziger from the pit lane it was hard for him to remove the smile of enjoyment from his face despite the early issues and when asked about what he thought of the format and style of racing - well we already know that the R-Motorsport team will be back for more with the Series at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas later in the season so that does already tell a tale.

Unfortunately for the team, and involving Dennis again, it appears that the car suffered from a broken exhaust (damage or fatigue it is not yet known) that, for one thing lost them more time in the garage bit more importantly lead to Dennis being admitted to hospital for observation after inhaling an amount of carbon monoxide from the exhaust fault in a kind of similar incident to what George Miedecke experienced at Bathurst a couple of years ago.

After all what happened on track, the #620 car finished a very credible P17 overall (albeit last in class) just 67 laps down to the overall leader so as a learning experience it was job done!

Already at home after his visit to hospital, Dennis is already on the mend looking forward to his return to Barcelona later this month for the finale of the Blancpain GT Series which is good news!

Photo credits - 24H / driver social media
Monday, September 10, 2018 |
Not quite the Shanghai surprise for China Equity AMR

Not quite the Shanghai surprise for China Equity AMR

Looking to close down and overcome the points deficit to the then GT4 Championship leading McLaren 570S, China Equity AMR frontrunners Jack Mitchell and Ryan Liu endured something of a chaotic fourth round of the China GT Championship from the Shanghai International Circuit at the weekend.

Early signs of promise in Qualifying for the front row in race 1 soon disappeared after an unseen manoeuvre from Am driver Ryan Liu made contact with David McIntyre's championship leading McLaren causing race ending damage to that cars cooling system after just ten minutes of racing.

For that Liu was soon awarded a drive through penalty for the avoidable collision.

Meanwhile, the sister #619 China Equity AMR car of David Pun and Bill O'Brian had been having technical problems of their own over Qualifying 1 and Race - issues that eventually led to an engine change for their golden Vantage GT4.

By the time the pits tops had been completed and Liu and handed over to Mitchell, the #618 car had dropped down to a distant fifth with thirty two minutes of the race still remaining. Despite best efforts to put in successively quicker laps, Mitchell became hampered with overheating issues with the AMR V8 and forcing him to slow to finish the race in P5 and just ahead of the sister #619 car in P6.

Race two on Sunday was something of a strange affair with Race Control forcing the grid around for a second formation lap before eventually calling a start to the somewhat disorganised grid at the third time of asking.

Liu again started for the #618 car from towards the rear of the grid before steaming up around the outside of the pack to claim third spot by the time they hit the third corner of the first lap but unfortunately his haste caught him up to the rear of the pole setting BMW too quickly for him to control the situation that then unfolded. With the BMW moving across the track to take the apex of the next left hander, Liu failed to lift to allow the BMW racing room clipping the rear of the M4 into a spin.

Just a few corners later another incident with other cars saw the Ginetta's spear out into the inside barrier requiring the services of the Safety Car.

On the restart O'Brian pushed his cooling tyres too hard to spin out from T7 whilst holding a comfortable fourth just seven minutes before the opening of the pit window with the incident involving the #618 being confirmed to be investigated after the race by Race Control whilst Mitchell was moving up to P2.

Just a couple of corners later Mitchell's car came to a dramatic halt at the hairpin stopping mid corner loosing loads of time whilst he reset the car before he was slowly able to move away with ten minutes remaining.

Crossing the line in fourth, the #618 was later given a post race 23 second time penalty for the earlier contact with the BMW although, fortunately for them that did not alter the finishing order so they leave Shanghai as the GT4 Championship leaders as the series moves on to the Wuhan Street Circuit in early October.

Whilst the #618 car failed to capitalise on earlier promise they at least saw that the #570 Winning Team McLaren suffered varying degrees of technical issue (including them actually hitting it) which limited their points haul from the event. The trouble is that two other teams have now pulled themselves up into contention.

Photo credits - China Equity AMR / China GT

Monday, September 10, 2018 |
"A really friendly and fun championship"

"A really friendly and fun championship"

Were the parting words left by Beechdean AMR boss Andrew Howard after an eventful weekend of racing at the championship's penultimate round from Donington.

Two races over two days for the multi class amateur driver line up before a third race on the Sunday featuring a Pro driver (if they had one in their line up) again provided for some very close and exciting racing with sometimes no certainty of a winner until the throwing of the chequered flag.

An unfortunate accident in race 1 saw a red flag being thrown with a new GT4 being almost destroyed and a driver temporarily hospitalised for checks (and thankfully later released) before the race was restarted that allowed for Howard and Nigel Hudson to claim second and third overall in their respective Vantage GT3's.

In the GTH Class (GT4), class championship contender Adam Hatfield and his Whitebridge AMR claimed their first win of the weekend aboard their Vantage whilst Paul Hollywood came a close second in his Beechdean  GT4.

The second race on Saturday was less fortunate for Howard who started from pole but soon had to retire his #107 car after damage was sustained in an overtaking manoeuvre with the then leading Mosler going into the Melbourne loop. The issues with these cars at least allowed the championship returning Hud Motorsport Vantage GT3 to claim the top step by the end of that 25 minute race.

Again, the #72 Whitebridge AMR Murphy/Hatfield car secured the top spot in GTH with Hollywood securing the final step to boot.

After an overnight break things ramped up to the start of the fifty minute compulsory pit stop interrupted race with Howard again being fastest in warm up before securing another front row slot for the race. For Hudson the winning ways of yesterday were to be swapped with the disappointment of an early retirement with a drive shaft failure but for Howard the the race went on.

Come the chequered flag it was another P2 for Howard in GTO , another first for Murphy and Hatfield securing them the class championship in the process and another P2 for Hollywood and Gunn both in the GTH class.

Plenty of silverware all round for the AMR guys!!

Role on Silverstone there could be another title up for grabs!

Photo credits - Steve Jackman / GT Cup 

Sunday, September 09, 2018 |