TF Sport's days out at Snetterton

TF Sport's days out at Snetterton

Just over a week after claiming their first World Endurance Championship's GTE race win in Japan, West Sussex based TF Sport were back at the humble Snetterton racetrack in Norfolk during the week to offer some their drivers an end of season test before flying off to Las Vegas to collect their British GT and Blancpain GT prizes at the annual SRO Awards there this weekend.

The first of the two day test saw 2019 British GT Champions Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam take in a few laps of a wet then dry Snetterton 300 circuit - probably trying to entice the Bronze driver championship the reason to return to both the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 and the team somewhere in Europe next season. Sadly missed but also taking in some laps aboard the new AMR GT3 was team favourite Derek Johnston - more for old times sake probably rather than any imminent plan to come out of retirement.

We also understand that Jamie Chadwick also indulged in a few laps around the circuit in the blue GT3 as well!

What was more special was the availability of one of the team's GT3 cars for the teams young 2019 British GT4 Champions Tom Canning and Ash Hand to test at the circuit in-between driver coaching duties of their own that they were giving to others in one of the teams V8 Vantage GT4's that was also at the circuit.

Running unofficially timed six lap runs at a time, the better weather on Thursday allowed the two youngsters to get somewhere near to a lap time set by Adam earlier in the day (within a second for Canning) but then, that was also probably just Adam 'playing' with them.

With any GT3 test having significant financial implications for those conducting the test, that cost and trust from team boss Tom Ferrier was not lost on the young heads of either Hand or Canning who (the latter) kindly took some time out to speak with us in-between runs.

We were assured by Ferrier that nothing at Snetterton this week had anything to do with any potential deals for 2020 - or at least that was what he said.........!!!

Friday, October 18, 2019 |
Generation AMR SuperRacing enter Dubai 24 with their AMR GT4

Generation AMR SuperRacing enter Dubai 24 with their AMR GT4

Having posted only a recent entry for this years Gulf 12Hrs from the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi this December, Aston Martin Racing customer team Generation AMR SuperRacing have decided to make the most of the cost of shipping the car, equipment and personnel over to the Middle East for that stand alone event by entering another race in that region in early January.

Today sees the Creventic 24H Series confirm that the David Appleby Engineering supported team have now submitted an entry into the 2020 Dubai 24Hr with their (what will be) number #434 car listing a part driver line up of team regulars James Holder and Matt George.

Obviously needing at least one other driver to make that entry possible, this car does at least double the provisional Aston Martin Racing team entry into the 24H Series headline event along with the potential entry from the Newbridge team with another Vantage GT4.

Having posted a request for any potential interested drivers wanting to join them at the Gulf 12Hr (details available HERE) we would imagine that it will be the same for the Dubai 24? - emails to James Appleby.

The Dubai 24H is due to take place over the 9th-11th January 2020.

Photo credits - Generation AMR

Friday, October 18, 2019 |
Hunt joins Team Virage for penultimate round of GT4 South Europe Series

Hunt joins Team Virage for penultimate round of GT4 South Europe Series

Joining the European Le Mans Series at their final race weekend of the season in Portimao in Portugal will be the GT4 South Europe Series with their own, penultimate round of their season.

Spanish based Team Virage will be there with at least one of their two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's that they have raced this year in the series as well as periodically in the Creventic 24H Series.

Joining the team for the first time this year in a racing environment will be Freddie Hunt, son of the former F1 World Champion James Hunt, who will race alongside CO Jones in the Series two 25 minute races on both Saturday and Sunday.

Hunt did test with the team earlier in the year at Donington Park after they soon acquired the car from the Prodrive factory but has yet to race with them despite early promises of a full season in the SRO regulated Series.

Photo credits - Virage
Thursday, October 17, 2019 |
Great news for 2020 from Beechdean AMR today

Great news for 2020 from Beechdean AMR today

A very interesting job advert was released by the Beechdean AMR motor racing team today, looking to fill the new position of Team Administrator to help take the multiple British GT Championship winning team into an extended, multi series race programme for the 2020 season.

With the advert talking about multi car programmes in both the British and European racing arenas, the team will surely be looking to emulate or even better the successes that fellow AMR Partner Teams like TF Sport and Optimum Motorsport have achieved of late with their own cross platform/driver grading customer base

Team Principle Andrew Howard did tell us at the British GT meeting at Brands Hatch earlier this year of his future desires for the team that would not necessarily include him behind the wheel of any car as, although thoroughly enjoying his motorsport at the moment, time would soon come where his continued inclusion in the driver line up would not make either economic nor sporting sense for either him or the team - he is a businessman after all!

This news comes on the 'eve' of his and the teams final race of the season at Portimao, Portugal in the Michelin Le Mans Cup next week with his #99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 that he shares with the now AMR factory driver Ross Gunn.

Sadly not in contention for the overall crown in GT3 this year despite podiums at both Le Mans and most recently Spa Francorchamps, the duo do have a battle on their hands to retain their present third place in the GT3 Championship table from the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

The final race of the Le Mans Cup season starts early at 09:00hrs (local) on the 27th October.

Photo credits - LMC / British GT
Thursday, October 17, 2019 |
Official confirmation of Optimum's participation in next month's Motorsport Games

Official confirmation of Optimum's participation in next month's Motorsport Games

With the FIA having seemingly released a full but then unconfirmed entry list into next months Motorsport Games event from Italy late last week, today sees Optimum Motorsport make that 'confirmed' announcement of this new venture together with the first images of their Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3's new livery............

"Optimum Motorsport are delighted to confirm that they will compete in the FIA Motorsports Games next month in Italy. Under the entry of Team Kuwait, the team will race the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 alongside 21 other nations in the GT Cup at Vallelunga, Italy.

The inaugural event took place last year in Bahrain under the banner of ‘Nations Cup’ and Optimum Motorsport are happy to officially announce its entry with Khaled Al Mudhaf alongside Zaid Ashkanani as a Bronze-Silver pairing.

Khaled has a great track record in endurance racing, having won the 24 Hours of Dubai twice in two differing categories. The Kuwaiti’s most recent success came earlier this year in the SPX class and at the wheel of the Huracan Super Trofeo Evo.

Zaid meanwhile secured a Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup victory this year at Monza in the Pro category, following on from an extensive background in Porsche GT racing in the Middle East and Germany.

Very much dubbed as the Olympics for Motorsport, the event as a whole invites nations to complete in a raft of activities from the Digital Cup, Drifting Cup, Touring Car Cup, Formula 4 Cup as well as the GT3 action at the track.

The Silver-Bronze or Bronze-Bronze driver line-up is mandated in the GT Cup where practice leads into two qualifying races. The one-hour deciding finale is where the championship-winning nation is crowned.

Al Mudhaf

“We’re excited to be joining the FIA Motorsport Games as Team Kuwait,” stated Optimum Motorsport Team Principal Shaun Goff. “We have plenty of experience and knowledge now on the new Vantage GT3 from our programmes in both British GT and GT Open. We’re looking forward to working with our two new drivers Khaled and Zaid and as ever it is our aim and ambition to win at this very high level.”

The action gets underway on Friday, November 1st with two free practice sessions. Race one takes place on Saturday afternoon with the second qualifying race on Sunday morning ahead of the deciding finale".

Photo credits - Optimum / drivers social media
Tuesday, October 15, 2019 |
BSEM penalised in last race of China GT season

BSEM penalised in last race of China GT season

The 2019 China GT Championship season came to an end this weekend with Aston Martin Racing Partner Team BSEM again fielding two variants of the AMR Vantage GT4 at the final two races of the season.

Hoping to capitalise upon their race winning success at the second race last time out at Tianjin, drivers David Pun and AMR factory driver Ross Gunn left the Shanghai International Circuit with penalties adversely affecting their performances on track.

With Gunn having Qualified the new #618 car on pole for race one for his amateur co-driver, the 50kg success ballast from winning the last race really hurt the performance of the car as Pun battled out his thirty minute stint amongst Pro drivers in the other cars. The older, normally aspirated Vantage GT4 would also be raced again but in a solo driver format in both races for a returning Zhang Fangxuan.

Overtaken for the lead of the race going into turn one, Pun soon had his mirrors full of car after car as the #618 effectively lumbered out of the technical sections of the 5.4km circuit before a Safety Car period 'lost' the race ten minutes of time whilst a stricken car was recovered from the side of the circuit.

By the time of pit window opening Pun had dropped to P6 overall but by the time Gunn emerged, that gap had further elongated to P9. Slow, progressive race craft was all the new AMR WEC factory could do to lift the #618 car to P4 by the time of the chequered flag. The #619 would finish P12 and a lap down to the leaders.

"The circuit was not suiting the strengths of the AMR Vantage GT4" said Gunn when asked to comment about his races.

Race two on Sunday was a different story however as despite a lower Qualifying slot of P9 for Gunn, there was no success ballast aboard the car.

Some early brave moves and some 'poetically licensed' moves in the opening few laps saw Gunn move up to P4 overall and that would improve by two more positions as a Mercedes and Ginetta tangled a few hundred metres in front to take themselves both out of contention - that was now P2 with only ten minutes of the race gone!!

Losing another ten minutes of the race to the Safety Car, Gunn was struggling to get past the Mercedes of Alex Fontana despite the Swiss driver bearing the 50kg weight penalty from race 1 but would still pit from P2 just after the halfway mark.

With new front Michelins fitted, Pun would exit the pits in P2 but he would be very quickly passed by the extremely quick Mercedes of Will Bamber not long before a huge crash involving a BMW and another Mercedes would neutralise the race for most of the remaining nineteen minutes. With the front wheel of the BMW collapsing under braking, that driver was simple a passenger as his car at first slammed into the concrete wall head on before then spearing into (and thankfully) the non drivers side of the Mercedes as that was then going around the hairpin corner.

With some injuries apparent and a huge debris field, the race would only go green again with just three minutes remaining but as Bamber controlled the restart, an over ambitious move from Pun saw him overtake this Mercedes before the control line. Like their stable partners at Automatic Racing at the finale of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road America on Friday, the #618 car would cross the line in P2 only to have a thirty second penalty applied post race for that late transgression.

The #618 would finally be listed just ahead of their other team car in P10 (#618) and P11 (#619) respectively.

Photo credits - China GT

Sunday, October 13, 2019 |
Wilkinson wraps up GT Open 2019 with another podium

Wilkinson wraps up GT Open 2019 with another podium

Seven rounds fourteen races later, BRDC Rising Star and British GT GT3 Silver Cup Champion Ollie Wilkinson rounded off his 2019 European racing commitments with another podium at the season finale at Monza this weekend.

Having started the season at Paul Ricard in April and then competing in the Pro-Am Class with his #96 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 and co-driver Bradley Ellis, the twenty three year secured his first podium finish of the new season with a P2 Class finish in race 2 at that event.

Under the guidance of others, the #96 car took the significant step up in class to compete within the full Pro class with Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner being recruited to be the Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy participant's new co-driver.

Having to skip round round three at Spa Francorchamps due to his (then) ongoing British GT Championship title possibilities, a co-driver change going at the Red Bull Ring, Austria lead to Wilkinson and the deputising Jonny Adam securing his first outright win in the Series.

A dreadful weekend at his home event at Silverstone and then technical issues next time out in Barcelona, it was something of a phycological milestone for the #96 crew to end the season on a high at the last two races of the season in Italy.

With Turner Qualifying P7 for race 1 on Saturday, the race appeared (from the outside at least) to be somewhat processional one as the #96 car struggled to get past the #17 Teo Martin McLaren 720s. Turner has already acknowledged during Qualifying that the 720s was the fastest car on the long straights and it was hard for the new Vantage GT3 to keep up with that.

Their only option then was strategy and with running Turner to the maximum permitted time in the hope of overlapping the #17 car during the pitstop cycle - and that is exactly what they did. All over the back of the McLaren in the corners but dropping away slightly on the straights, the Vantage was clearly the stronger overall package between the #96 and the #17 cars and by the time Wilkinson exited pit lane after their shorter minimum time stop he was in front of the #17.

With an eight second lead and with just seventeen minutes to get, Wilkinson kept his eyes firmly fixed on making his braking points and corner apexes whilst making his car as wide as legally possible to see off the attention of the McLaren behind to finally make the chequered flag in third position overall.

Another great result for the drivers and team to secure their third podium finish of the season - the second of the year in Pro!!

Sundays final race of the season was (if we are brutally honest) was something of a quiet one for the team. With Wilkinson having Qualified P8 earlier in the day, he drove a very consistent race, maintaining his starting position for most of his opening thirty minute stint - only losing out when he compromised his own exit speed on a corner at the far side of the circuit to drop him back to P9 by the time of his stop.

Despite some progressively faster laps being entered by Turner, the #96 car simply didn't have the legs of the likes of the McLaren 720s to make any inroads into the gaps to the cars ahead to eventually finish the race and the season down in P8.

That aside, 2019 has been another great year for Wilkinson racing with Shaun Goff's Optimum Motorsport team with their new AMR Vantage GT3 since stepping up from last years Audi R8. We will have to wait to see what 2020 will bring this young man!

Photo credits - GT Open

Sunday, October 13, 2019 |
Simple errors cost Automatic Racing a sure podium at Petit Le Mans finale

Simple errors cost Automatic Racing a sure podium at Petit Le Mans finale

Yesterdays final round of the IMSA sanctioned Michelin Pilot Challenge had all the hallmarks of something good for both Automatic Racing and their CSJ Motorsport partners but some poor choices  off track changed those possibilities.

Indian driver Akhil Rabindra had been again quick in their new Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 since joining the team at Road America back in early August and Fridays pole position for the #09 was their best Qualifying performance yet.

Running the usual two hour race format, Rabindra ran a domineering open stint (up until the first safety car intervention) leading the field by nearly three seconds by lap six. That lead was of course cancelled out by the caution but even on the restart, Rabindra was comfortably able to see off the Ford Mustang advances of Seb Priaulx.

Two more periods of full course yellow followed after that before a more significant off for a TCR car on the pit straight lead to an extended period of caution that took the cars beyond the first hour of racing. Whilst many teams used the caution to pit and fully service their cars the #09 was left out, maintaining track position behind the Safety Car.

Just after the hour mark the race went back to green but still Rabindra was kept out on track - we had seen in previous races that the team struggled with multiple pit stops for their small crew but this time it was evident that they had managed to stagger them to avoid cars queuing so pits lane space wasn't an issue.

The real issue for the team came with just 42 minutes left on the clock when another FCY was called, sealing off the pits for the start and leaving the #09 stranded on track but needing to pit. By the time that the stranded car had been removed from track only 37 minutes of the race remained yet co-driver Tom Long needed to serve a minimum of 40 minutes! Even when Rabindra did eventually pit (in the lead of a gaggle of cars going into pit lane) something else still went wrong with the stop that meant Long would leave last in that gaggle of cars and way down in the field of cars.

Not letting a poor stop distract him, Long drove some monumental opening laps to soon recover his track position to P5 with still 24 minutes remaining. That progress continued to where Long found himself just 3.2 seconds behind the leading Mustang with just five minutes remaining.

At the chequered flag the #15 Mustang would take the win only by a noticeably smaller margin from the #09 Aston Martin but the damage had already been done with the cars minimum driver time already under investigation by Race Control. Sure enough, that error by the team had been confirmed and the #09 car placed at the tail of the finishing field despite taking the chequered flag.

That must be a real disappointment for all concerned with the team, especially after securing their first pole position with the new era of turbo charged AMR's and obviously a very quick duo of drivers within the car who could have very easily secured both the team's second and that car's first podium of the year!

This meeting also marked the end of the end of racing for the team's remaining normally aspirated AMR Vantage GT4 as Automatic look to move over to a full fleet of turbo charged cars ready next season. Racing again in its gorgeous blue livery, the #99 car of Ben Waddell even lead the race going into the closing stages of the race having pitted under an early FCY but eventually had to pit for a splash - eventually finishing P17 in class.

What the last four rounds of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge have shown is that the new AMR Vantage is a serious race contender within the technical parameters of that IMSA series and is also a very comfortable car to driver. With CSJ Motorsport already conducting a number of private tests for prospective customers in-between rounds, we can hope that there might be a few more AMR's running in this series in 2020?

Photo credits - IMSA / Stoner / Automatic / CSJ 

Saturday, October 12, 2019 |
Wilkinson hoping to see out the GT open season on the podium at Monza

Wilkinson hoping to see out the GT open season on the podium at Monza

Like many other Series and Championship's around the world, his weekend also has the International GT Open Series racing out their final two races of the season from Monza in Italy.

Having started in Pro-Am but then confidently progressed up to the full Pro class in his Optimum Motorsport prepared Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3, Ollie Wilkinson again pairs up with his AMR factory driver mentor in Darren Turner to hopefully finish the season on something of a high after the disappointments of Silverstone and a technical DNF last time out in Barcelona.

Being part of the Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy process, the Leeds based racer has had Turner watching over him for most of this season despite starting the season off with his British GT Championship co-driver and co Silver Cup Champion Bradley Ellis. His progression up to the Pro was fully vindicated in Austria in July with an overall race win for him and a deputising Jonny Adam at the Series 200th race milestone.

The two races at Monza will also be Wilkinson's final efforts to impress the judges within the AMR Drivers Academy process of his on track credentials in his effort to win the coveted prize of an AMR factory contract and GTE test.

Qualifying for the weekends races takes place in the morning before each race.

Photo credits - GT Open
Friday, October 11, 2019 |
AMR GT4's on Pole at both IMSA and China GT

AMR GT4's on Pole at both IMSA and China GT

American based Automatic Racing and CSJ Motorsport have saved the best performance of their IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season so far  till last to claim overall pole position at tonights final round of the season at the Petit Le Mans meeting from Road Atlanta.

With young Indian racer Akhil Rabindra this time being joined by American racer Tom Long in the #09 CSJ Motorsport supplied car, a Qualifying lap time of 1:25:715 was enough by just over one tenth of a second to secure his and this teams first pole with the new AMR GT4 platform from the otherwise more dominant Ford Mustang of debuting Seb Priaulx

Seeing out this final race will be three AMR Vantage GT4's from the Florida based team with the new #97 car being piloted by Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson from P14 on tonights grid and the older, normally aspirated #99 car of Ramin Abdolvahabi and B Waddell starting P23.

This race starts at 18:15 BST and is streamed live and free outside of the USA.

Over on the other side of the world and at the Shanghai International Circuit, AMR Partner team BSEM Asia Sonic Racing are preparing for their final two races of their China GT Championship season.

Having secured their first pole position and overall race win last time out at Tianjin, AMR factory driver Ross Gunn traded the top spot with fellow European based drivers before finally securing pole position in Q1 by just two tenths of a second. Team mate qualified the #618 in P11 for his starting role over the weekend.

Also featuring the return of the teams normally aspirated V8 #619 car at this final round, that car finished Qualifying in P16 and P11 places for both Saturdays and Sunday's races.

Photo credits - IMSA / CSJ / Automatic / BSEM / China GT

Friday, October 11, 2019 |
Pair of AMR Vantage GT3's to represent nations in FIA Motorsport Games

Pair of AMR Vantage GT3's to represent nations in FIA Motorsport Games

This weeks update of this years FIA Motorsport Games Nations Cup now includes (so far) two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3's to represent two nations at the racing games that take place at the Vallelunga Circuit in Italy in just three weeks time.

We are already aware of Salih Yoluc returning to the event with co-driver Ayhancan G├╝ven in a TF Sport prepared Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3 to defend their Turkish victory from last time out in Bahrain.

Now we see that Optimum Motorsport have also been employed to prepare the Kuwaiti team entry of Khaled Al Mudhaf and Zaid Ashkanani as part of a twenty two car grid confirmed so far.

The FIA Motorsport Games will feature races in GT, Touring Car, Formula 4, Drifting, karting and in digital formats.
Wednesday, October 09, 2019 |
Academy - Pick of the GT4 European Series pit crews

Academy - Pick of the GT4 European Series pit crews

Congratulations go to Matt Nichol-Jones' Academy Motorsport team tonight after having been confirmed as the winners of the inaugural Pit Stop Challenge that the SRO governing body introduced to their GT4 European Series this year.

Used this year as a 'financial incentive' for the crews to get a close as possible to the cars minimum pit stop times, Academy accrued 94 points of the six round season as they serviced their two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's of Matt Cowley/Will Moore and Tom Wood/Fiona James for which the team will now receive a prize fund of €3000.00.

This award is in addition to the €1500.00 already received by the team for being the closest overall at their home round at Brands Hatch earlier this year.

To compliment the achievement above was that German based Prosport Performance (another AMR Vantage GT4 runner in the Series) finished second overall (just 20 points behind) after their 'difficult' end to their inaugural year with the new AMR.

Photo credit - GT4 European Series

Wednesday, October 09, 2019 |
Generation AMR SuperRacing looking for 3rd driver for Gulf 12Hr assault

Generation AMR SuperRacing looking for 3rd driver for Gulf 12Hr assault

Unable to defend their 2017 GTX3 (GT4) Gulf 12Hr crown at last years event, we understand that the David Appleby Engineering supported Generation AMR SuperRacing team are today on the look out for a suitably abled and funded BRONZE rated driver to join with then as they look to return to the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for the 2019 event in mid December.

The 2017 class winning partnership was with their regular British GT/GT4 European series/FFSA Pro-Am pairing of Matt George and James Holder who were joined by the teams former Bentley GT3/now historic racer Steve Tandy.

2017 was of course with their older 2016 generation of Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage race car but the team did take delivery of a new 2019, turbo charged generation of the new Vantage back in June, a car that made its international competitive debut with the AMR factory team at this event last year.

Since then, the new Vantage GT4 has gone on to prove itself to be an abled race winner across the world, so any interested parties are being asked to contact James Appleby via email in the first instance HERE as soon as possible.

As yet, no full entry list for the 2019 event has been published.

Photo credits - Generation AMR

Tuesday, October 08, 2019 |
A familiar name out in unfamiliar surroundings at the weekend

A familiar name out in unfamiliar surroundings at the weekend

We know this young man as being the new 2019 British GT GT3 Silver Cup Champion and we also know him as being an International GT Open GT3 overall race winner - but we don't know him (yet) as being a Nordschleife racer but those were the tiny steps being taken towards yesterday by Ollie Wilkinson.

Never short of any lack of determination, the twenty three year old Optimum Motorsport racing driver from Leeds quietly went across to Germany at the weekend to participate in the penultimate round of the 2019 RCN Series (Rundstrecken Challenge) aboard an AMR Performance Centre Vantage GT4 all in the course of an ultimate Full VLN permit.

Again under the watchful eye of driver coach Bradley Ellis, Wilkinson shared the #621 with a Tim Neuser to 'win' his class but more importantly get that signature confirmed on his licence application.

Possibly too late to do much more with this dream in 2019 whether in RCN or VLN, it will be interesting to see where this Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy candidate will go next (beyond what that has already been announced for 2020).

His next port of call will however be at the GT Open finale at Monza this weekend.

Sunday, October 06, 2019 |