Barwell Cadena : Kicking off season with Easter British GT

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Barwell Motorsport was fighting on two fronts over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend, with our GT squad running the Paul Whight-owned Aston Martin DBRS9 in the first round of the British series at Oulton Park, and the Ginetta G50 Cup campaign starting a few hundred miles away at Thruxton. The Paul Whight/Michael Bentwood Aston is being run under the ‘Barwell-Cadena’ banner, and notched up our first podium of 2010 with 3rd at Oulton, whilst G50 Cup driver, Julien Draper, commenced his season with three solid race performances around the daunting sweeps of Thruxton.

At Oulton Park the competition was intense in British GT this year, with Paul Whight’s Aston having to cope with other leading entries from no less than five new 2010-spec Ferrari 430 Scuderias, two new Audi R8s and an all-new-for 2010 Porsche 997 GT3R. All of these cars (and the 09 Championship-winning Ascari) have been upgraded since 2009, but unfortunately have not been properly ‘performance balanced’ by the FIA yet, as the official FIA GT3 balancing test is this week. Despite very little pre-season running in his Aston, Paul got into the groove well for qualifying and posted the 9th fastest time in the ‘amateur’ session, which was backed up by Michael going 6th fastest of the ‘pro’ qualifiers.

Paul had the bit between his teeth at the start of race one, setting a cracking time on lap five, some half a second quicker than his qualifying run with the car full of fuel! By lap seven he had moved up to seventh place and was hanging on to the back of the Ferrari of Hector Lester. Lester was clearly holding Paul up, and so when the pit stop window opened on lap 14 we brought the Aston in for Michael to take over. By the time all the driver change stops had been completed a few laps later, Michael had managed to jump ahead of both Audis and was holding fifth place ahead of the Predator Ferrari of Adam Wilcox. Just behind Wilcox was the Audi of Richard Dean and the Tom Ferrier Ferrari, and Michael got his head down and crucially pulled clear of this squabbling pack.

By lap 23 our fifth place became fourth when the leading Jones twins Ascari crashed out of contention. This car had received a stop-go penalty for a pit-stop infringement, and knowing this mistake would drop them out of contention the driver was too impatient whilst overtaking a backmarker and went off the road, ripping the Ascari’s splitter and radiator off and spilling fluid onto the track as it crawled back to the pits. Michael did a great job dealing with the slippery part of the track where the Ascari had dumped its fluids, and pulled further clear of the Ferrari/Audi battle behind.

During the last 10 laps of the race the 2010 spec Aston DBRS9 was the fastest car in the first sector, and was matching the leaders’ lap times, proving that the work Avon Tyres has put in over the winter to produce a more durable tyre has really paid off. It was also a testament to the work done by the Barwell engineers during our pre-season tyre test in Portugal, where we worked hard to find a really good race set-up on the new-spec Avon tyre. With four laps to go Michael was comfortable in fourth, and then the Porsche in second spot developed a problem with its fuel system and slipped down the order. This promoted the Barwell-Cadena Aston up to third place and a well earned visit to the podium for Paul and Michael.

Unfortunately we never got the chance to see if this feat could be repeated in race two, as Michael got forced out onto the dirty side of the track on the approach to the second ‘Cascades’ corner by the wayward Jones Ascari, and then ran out of road before he was able to turn in to the left hander.

Top 10 Results – British GT Championship Round 1 – Oulton Park
1. Cameron/Griffin Mtech Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3
2. Lester/Simonsen Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3
3. Whight/Bentwood Barwell-Cadena Aston Martin DBRS9
4. Dean/Brown United Autosports Audi R8 GT3
5. Cunill/Ashburn Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3R
6. Wilcox/Burton Predator Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3
7. Ferrier/Warren Chad Racing Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3
8. Patterson/Guasch United Autosports Audi R8 GT3
9. Hyman/Brown Chad Racing Ferrari 430 Scuderia GT3
10. Balbiani/Garriz Chad Racing Ferrari 430 GT3
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