Barwell Motorsport: British GT - Brands Hatch GP

Friday, October 01, 2010

Barwell Motorsport: British GT - Brands Hatch GP

Triple podium success for Barwell at Brands British GT

- Whight/Bentwood score overall podium in GT3 Aston
- Draper/Lloyd claim debut GT4 victory & a third in Ginetta G50

Barwell Motorsport enjoyed a highly successful time at its ‘home’ circuit of Brands Hatch last weekend, when the British GT Championship returned to the superb Grand Prix track. We had our biggest presence in the series so far this season, with two GT3 Aston Martin DBRS9s and a GT4 Ginetta G50 being fielded out of the overall Barwell ‘camp’ (this marking the first time we have entered the GT4 class). Out of the two one-hour races we claimed a total of three podium finishes, with a third in GT3 and a superb debut victory and a third place in GT4, together with a new GT4 lap record for the Brands GP track.

Making up the Barwell squad were the usual Barwell-Cadena Aston of Paul Whight/Michael Bentwood, plus we were once again providing engineering and preparation support to the Barwell-Beechdean DBRS9 of Andrew Howard, who this event was being partnered by Barwell’s former British GT3 Champion, Leo Machitski. In GT4, our regular Ginetta G50 Cup driver Julien Draper was moving up to make his British GT debut, and we had partnered him with young former Clio Cup title-winner Daniel Lloyd.

There was instant drama and action at the start of Sunday morning’s first encounter, which saw both the Howard-driven Aston and the Lloyd Ginetta move up from their third place grid slots into the lead of both GT3 (overall) and GT4 respectively....a good start to proceedings for the Barwell campaign! Andrew’s promotion was achieved relatively easily, as the Ascari and the Porsche on the front row had both failed to meet the pit-closing deadline and were thus forced to start from the pit lane. This gave Andrew an effective ‘pole position’ on the grid – which was the place he had actually earned in qualifying for this race one year ago! Daniel had been made to work a bit harder for his lead, however, as he made a great getaway and then immediately picked off the second-placed Ginetta of G50 Cup front-runners Benji and Freddie Hetherington around the outside at Paddock Bend, before coming out on top of a two-corner tussle with British GT4 champion-elect, Jamie Stanley, in his G50. This was to be the start of a hugely impressive stint from Lloyd, who belied his lack of experience of the Ginetta to record a new GT4 lap record which was a full 4/10ths of a second quicker than the fastest pole position time in qualifying!

Hence by Surtees corner on lap one, we had Barwell cars leading both classes of the race, and this is the way it stayed until the driver change sequence started. Meanwhile, Paul Whight was also making very nice progress in the Barwell-Cadena Aston. Like Andrew he benefited from the loss of the two front row starters, and then on lap two waved goodbye to two Ferraris who had become entangled in a big Italian mess at Clearways corner. All of this promoted Paul up to fifth spot and he was then catching the Warren/Ferrier Ferrari for fourth when the Safety Car came out for the Ferrari incident. This wasn’t so good for us, as firstly it wiped out the nice lead that both Howard and Lloyd had been building up in their respective classes, and secondly it enabled the Jones Ascari and Ashburn/Geddie Porsche to close down the gap to Paul.

When the Safety Car pulled in at the start of lap seven, Paul was jumped by the two cars that had been fastest in qualifying, but he then settled into a really good pace that kept him in their wheeltracks. Soon the Burton/Wilcox Ferrari was demoted to the car in front of Paul, and the Barwell-Cadena Aston was climbing all over the black Ferrari as he attacked for sixth place. This position was achieved on lap 13 of 38, but at the expense of another Ferrari as Duncan Cameron had a moment in his 430 Scuderia and slipped down the order from second spot. Next time around the driver change window was open, and all the leading bunch apart from the Warren/Ferrier Ferrari and the Jones Ascari came into the pits.

Andrew thus brought the Barwell-Beechdean car in from the lead, after a great stint where he had comfortably showed a clean pair of heels to the rest of the amateur drivers around one of the toughest tracks in the UK. He hadn’t put a wheel wrong in qualifying or the race, and handed over to Leo for his first race driving stint since the corresponding event last year. A Barwell car soon took up the honour as overall race leader again, however, as with all the GT3 cars pitting by lap 15, 18-year old Daniel Lloyd found himself leading his first ever British GT race outright in the Barwell Ginetta! This honour lasted for three laps, by which time all the GT3 cars were about to arrive on his doorstep and so we sensibly got him into the pits to hand over to Julien before he lost a chunk of time as they bundled past him.

After all the stops had shaken out, the later stopping Jones Ascari and Warren/Ferrier Ferrari had posted some quick laps and jumped into the top two places, followed by Leo in third – who now had the very tough job of trying to fend off all the professional drivers in the other cars. Michael Bentwood was now at the wheel of the sister Aston in sixth, and Julien had taken over the helm of his Ginetta G50 to commence his first ever British GT race in the GT4 class lead. The main action that the Barwell crew were now focusing on was Leo’s amazing defence of third place from the Burton/Wilcox Ferrari, now being driven by top GT ‘pro’ Adam Wilcox. This was the Russian’s first race for a year but he was immediately setting a very quick pace, and showing no signs of rustiness in his racecraft. Despite the Ferrari’s superior straight-line speed, Leo held Wilcox at bay for four laps with the black ‘Prancing Horse’ following inches behind and snapping at the Aston’s exhaust pipe at every corner. Unfortunately the intense pressure led to Leo just locking up a rear brake and spinning around at Druids bend on lap 22, but he still managed to rejoin in seventh place, and was able to move back up to fifth by the finish.

Leo’s misfortune benefitted the sister Aston of Bentwood, however, who also moved up a further place on the 22nd tour when the Warren/Ferrier Ferrari hit trouble and retired. This moved Michael up to fourth but he then lost out to the flying Westbrook/Walker Porsche shortly after. There was still plenty of drama to play out in this race, however, as the Barwell-Cadena DBRS9 was back up to fourth on lap 27 when the Burton/Wilcox Ferrari received a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane infringement, and just one lap later this became third with the demise of the leading Ascari. With five laps left, Michael was still holding third but the Cameron/Griffin Ferrari was closing in and got the jump on the Aston down the back straight on lap 34. It looked like we would just miss out on a podium result, but then incredibly the Ferrari suffered a puncture on the very last lap and Michael swept past to claim third spot.

It was thus podium jubilation for one Barwell car, and we were also able to enjoy the celebrations on the GT4 podium as Julien brought his Ginetta G50 home in third place after battling with the Hetheringtons and the Stanley/Dick machine. This was an assured performance from Draper on his debut at international race event level, and he had settled into a very good pace during the second half of his stint which had comfortably been able to hold off 2009 Ginetta G50 Cup Champion, Nathan Freke, from catching. It also meant that we scored a podium on our British GT4 class debut, repeating the feat we achieved on our British GT3 debut back in 2006 when a Barwell Aston DBRS9 won the class with a certain Leo Machitski at the wheel...!

The two fastest qualifiers were again missing from the grid as the British GT field lined up for the second race of the day, this time under rainy skies and on wet tyres. The pole-winning Simonsen/Lester Ferrari was unable to take part due to the damage it sustained in the early race one accident, and the Cameron/Griffin 430 Scuderia didn’t make the grid before the pit lane was closed. This promoted Michael and Leo up to fourth and sixth spots on the grid respectively, and both men made the most of this opportunity as they stormed up to third and fourth places during the course of the opening lap. Michael claimed the scalp of the Ferrier/Warren Ferrari in a great outbraking move at Graham Hill Bend, and Leo promptly followed him through! Bentwood was then able to repeat another cracking pass at the same place one lap later, when he scythed past the Jones Ascari to take second spot.

The Barwell-Cadena man then looked like he might threaten the Wilcox Ferrari for the lead, but after five laps the mid-engined cars started to get more heat into their wet tyres and unfortunately both Michael and Leo came under pressure from behind. Leo had been repassed by the Ferrier Ferrari and was now the subject of a double-pronged attack from the two Trackspeed Porsches. First Geddie had a go but the Machitski defence was once again extremely strong, and the initial Porsche assault was repelled. Former factory Porsche FIA GT champion Westbrook was in the other car, however, and he took up the cudgels to try and take Leo’s fifth place. Leo again put up a heroic fight against one of the top GT professionals in Europe, and this time unfortunately the Porsche man had to resort to foul play to get around the Barwell-Beechdean Aston. As the two cars braked for the Druids hairpin, Westbrook have Machitski’s Aston a firm nudge in the rear bumper and sent him into the gravel trap where sadly he was stuck and out of the race.

The Bentwood Aston was also on the receiving end of some rough driving by a rival on lap six, when the Jones Ascari barged its way back past at Druids and nearly sent Michael into the same fate as Leo. Michael recovered the moment however, but the loss of momentum meant that he had slipped back to sixth by lap 10. A few laps later, though, the Aston’s pace dropped dramatically and it was clear that something was wrong. Michael radioed in that his windscreen was covered in oil, and combined with the rain this created a ‘wallpaper’ that he simply couldn’t see through. After some very hairy moments he brought the car back into the pits on lap 14 so that the screen could be cleaned, and to change drivers over to Paul. Upon investigation in the pits, the oil source was traced to a hairline crack in the oil cooler of the Aston, a part which had never failed before, and this one was only two races old. This was the first mechanical failure for a Barwell Aston in the last two seasons of British GT, but sadly it spelt retirement for Michael and Paul.

It was thus left to Julien and Daniel to uphold Barwell honour, and we switched our complete attentions to the battle for the GT4 class. Julien had kept a cool head in the treacherous conditions of the start, where the GT4 cars disappeared in a massive ball of spray created by all the GT3 runners ahead of them. Despite being able to see very little Julien made a clean start from fourth in class, and worked hard at keeping the leading pack in sight. After another solid stint he came in for the scheduled hand over to Daniel on lap 14. After only three laps of his stint, however, the Safety Car came out and it looked like our rivals would be able to seize an advantage as they could make their driver change stops under Safety Car conditions. The Hetheringtons in the Century Motorsport G50 made a strategic error, though, and curiously stayed out for a lap too long which cost them a huge amount of time as they had to follow the Safety Car around. Daniel pressed on in the Barwell car until he caught the pack, and by this time he had moved up into third ahead of the Hetheringtons.

As the field was released back into play on lap 21 of 32, Daniel immediately attacked the Dick/Stanley car and took second place at Druids. Just a corner later this became the GT4 lead as the Freke/Smed Ginetta got barged wide by the GT3 cars. After soaking up an initial bit of pressure from Hetherington, Daniel started to set some superb times in the very difficult conditions and pulled away masterfully from the second place car. He reeled off the laps confidently to score a superb British GT4 debut victory for himself, Julien and Barwell Motorsport.
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes