Barwell / Beechdean takes pole and stars in Brands GP thrillers

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Barwell Motorsport enjoyed a highly successful British GT series finale at Brands Hatch last weekend, ending the national season on a high note with another pole position to add to our tally. In a drama-packed weekend of racing, we dominated the first half of Saturday’s race with Andrew Howard posting a storming drive from pole position in his V12 Aston Martin DBRS9.

Race 1 – Saturday, 1-Hour (38 laps)

The highlight of Official Qualifying for us was undoubtedly the stunning pole position won by Andrew Howard in the first race session for the ‘non-pro’ drivers. Andrew has got better and better with every race he has done this year, and this pole position was the culmination of a season’s hard work. The Beechdean Ice Cream man revelled in the great high-speed balance of his 500bhp DBRS9 at the very fast and challenging Brands Grand Prix circuit, and actually posted two laps that were good enough for pole. In a nice touch for the Barwell team, his closest challenger came in the form of Leo’s Ginetta G50Z, which led to some interesting inter-team rivalry between the mechanics dedicated to each car..! Andrew’s pole also rounded off a very impressive little statistic for Barwell Motorsport’s 2009 season; it means that we have scored a pole position with every car we have run this year...adding the Ginetta G50Z in British GT, the Vincent Vosse/Eddy Renard-driven Aston Martin DBRS9 in Belgian GT, and the Mark Lemmer/ Mike Brown-driven Honda Integra in the Belgian Touring Car Series (class pole).

Andrew belied his lack of pole position starting experience by making the perfect getaway, and then confidently swooped through Paddock Hill Bend to lead a British GT race for the first time. Despite the pressure of having the entire grid snapping at his heels during the course of the opening lap he didn’t put a wheel wrong and, together with the Leo Machitski-driven Ginetta, started to open up a handy margin over the rest of the pack. Although he was a ‘first-timer’ in this situation at British GT level, Andrew put on a masterclass of how to lead a race. He got his head down, banged in a series of rapid laps in the 1m32s bracket, and pulled out a gap of seven seconds over the third placed Ascari of the Jones twins as early as lap 12.

The leaders started to hit the GT4 class backmarkers on lap 14, and unfortunately for both Andrew and Leo they got a slightly worse deal in lapping the traffic than the third-placed Ascari. This cut the lead of the two Barwell cars down to four seconds as the race entered the pit-stop phase for driver changes after 23 minutes. Andrew thus pitted on lap 16, but was forced to brake hard in the pit lane when the Ford GT was released from his pit stop right into the path of the Barwell-Beechdean Aston (the Ford then receiving a stop-go penalty for this action). Andrew’s fast reactions saved a collision but it had cost him a vital few seconds of time.

With the Jones Ascari benefiting from the Ginetta’s pit stop problems, this left them free to mount an attack on the leading Barwell-Beechdean Aston, now being piloted by Jamie Smyth. With the quicker Jones twin now at the wheel of the Ascari, he started to eat into Jamie’s lead by small margins as the race entered its second half. Smyth seemed to have the gap pegged at around the one second mark, but then on lap 25 he ran wide on the exit of Westfield bend and allowed the Ascari to sneak through. Sadly Jamie then also fell foul of the race officials as he was deemed to have overtaken a backmarker in a yellow flag ‘caution’ zone at Paddock Bend where a car had crashed off, and the challenge for a strong position was ended when he had to come back in to the pits to serve a 10-second ‘stop-go’ penalty.

GT3 Results – British GT Championship Round 13 – Brands Hatch
1st. 1st GT3 Jones/Jones Preci-Spark Ascari KZ1R
2nd. 2nd GT3 Burton/Wilcox VRS Ferrari 430 GT3
3rd. 3rd GT3 Lester/Simonsen Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 GT3
4th. 4th GT3 Scott/Wilkins ABG Motorsport Dodge Viper
5th. 1st INV GT3 Machitski/Quaife Barwell Motorsport Ginetta G50Z-Zytek
6th. 5th GT3 Cameron/Edmonds MTECH Ferrari 430 Scuderia
7th. 6th GT3 Warren/Hyman Chad Racing Ferrari 430 GT3
8th. 7th GT3 Walker/Mortimer Team RPM Ford GT3
9th. 8th GT3 Howard/Smyth ‘Barwell-Beechdean’ Aston Martin DBRS9

Race 2 – Sunday, 1-Hour (39 laps)

Jamie had made a solid start and was running well in seventh place, right on the coat tails of the Jones Ascari and the Scott Viper. This trio had been maintaining a good pace just a little bit back from the fourth-place Ginetta, but by lap 10 the Viper’s pace started to fade away and he was becoming a mobile chicane. The Ascari managed to find a way past after a couple of laps of trying, but Jamie then got firmly stuck behind the big American machine. The Viper’s grunt just managed to keep it out of the Aston Martin driver’s reach at the end of the straights, and thus Jamie and the Barwell crew could only look on in frustration as we slipped back a further eight seconds behind the Ascari.

In an attempt to get Andrew out in some clean air and try and jump the Viper, we called Jamie in slightly early on lap 20, and the Beechdean man blasted out of the pits for his last drive of the 2009 British season. He certainly put every ounce of energy he had into trying to get another podium finish, and him and Leo were the fastest drivers on the track in the second half of the race. Although our tactics had paid off and allowed Andrew to circulate in some clean air, unfortunately we just missed out on leapfrogging the Viper, and so Andrew now had the same problem as Jamie. With the Ascari and any hope of a podium disappearing up the road, Andrew was trying to launch attacks on the Wilkins-driven Viper everywhere. Unfortunately as he attempted to line up a pass for the exit of Paddock Bend on lap 29, he left his braking too late and nerfed the Viper into a spin. It was a completely unintentional move, and Andrew later received a rap on the knuckles from the race officials for his actions.

He then regrouped after the contact with the Viper and quickly dealt with the Walker-driven Ford GT. His next goal was to set about closing down the gap to the Jones Ascari, and he took on this challenge with relish. For lap after lap Andrew kept on pushing and relentlessly surged closer and closer to the back of the championship-leading Ascari. In an incredible charge he had closed the gap down from 14 seconds to only two in 10 laps, but he just ran out of time to claim third spot out of the GT3 points-scorers.

This was a great way to end the British season, and further testament to the terrific hard work and skills of the Barwell Motorsport squad. This year we have entered six British GT events and 11 races (including 22 starts across 3 cars), claimed two pole positions and three race wins, and we have not suffered any retirements whatsoever due to mechanical failure !

GT3 Results – British GT Championship Round 14 – Brands Hatch
1st. 1st INV GT3 Machitski/Quaife Barwell Motorsport Ginetta G50Z-Zytek
2nd. 1st GT3 Lester/Simonsen Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 GT3
3rd. 2nd GT3 Burton/Wilcox VRS Ferrari 430 GT3
4th. 3rd GT3 Jones/Jones Preci-Spark Ascari KZ1R
5th. 4th GT3 Howard/Smyth ‘Barwell-Beechdean’ Aston Martin DBRS9
6th. 5th GT3 Walker/Mortimer Team RPM Ford GT3
7th. 6th GT3 Cameron/Edmonds MTECH Ferrari 430 Scuderia
8th. 7th GT3 Warren/Hyman Chad Racing Ferrari 430 GT3

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