Vantage Racing: British GT Snetterton race report

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Our first British GT outing of 2011 was Round 2 (we didn't go to the first round at Oulton Park). This was a 120 minute, single pit-stop round on the new Snetterton 300 Circuit in Norfolk.

As last year, the Vantage Racing car is our DBRS9 GT3 which will be driven by Tom Black and Stuart Hall in three of the six rounds. Although there are several newer cars on the grid, our performance in early season testing had given us confidence that we could put up a strong showing. We lost the first Saturday practice session to a broken drive shaft and the very changeable weather conditions for the second session meant that we had numerous changes from slicks to wets and very limited time in the car as a result. Despite this, Stuart qualified us in fourth place in an impressive 1:51.8, behind the CRS Racing Ferrari 458, the United Autosports Audi R8 and Hector Lester's Ferrari 430 Scuderia.

In the race, we ran a contrarian strategy, putting our pro driver out first, in contrast to most other teams who kept the best for last. Stuart quickly took advantage of the less experienced drivers around him and went from P4 to P1 on the first lap. He then set about building up an impressive lead of over 7 seconds which, unfortunately, was eliminated by a safety car on Lap 10 following a nasty collision between the two Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3Rs which saw them both retire. As a result of the long safety car, our lead was only 1.6s by the time Stuart pitted on Lap 30.

After a faultless pit-stop Tom took over in P7 and quickly found himself under assault from the impressive field. Despite falling back to P8 on Lap 35, he had recovered to P7 by Lap 44 and had managed a string of laps around 1:58, comfortably ahead of his best in practice. With 30 minutes to go we were beginning to look fairly solid in P7 when our luck changed. Tom was involved in a collision with Mat Griffin's Ferrari 458 which resulted in his retirement with suspension damage. Although not the result we had hoped for, we did put up a very respectable performance on which we should be able to build at Brands Hatch on 19th June.

Image copyright Richard Leach
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