What a difference a race makes

Monday, June 23, 2014

Reaching the halfway point of the 2014 season the British GT Championship took itself to the 2.99mile former wartime airbase circuit at Snetterton in Norfolk for what would be Rounds 5 and 6 and the second double-header meeting of the season.

Coming away from the previous round at Silverstone with five Vantage GT3's in the top ten all the aston martin Customer teams were hopeful of similar results from an equally fast circuit. Fingers were  being crossed however as to avoid the torrential rainfall that blighted the meeting twelve months ago.

Coming into qualifying 1 on the Saturday only the MP Motorsport car threatened the top three but they were still over a second behind the pole sitting BMW Z4. Qualifying 2 however was a slightly different story with Beechdean claiming pole with a half second advantage over the chasing pack.

Prior to Race 1 the GT racing family would pay tribute to their fallen competitor with a minute's silence representing the one year anniversary to the day of the tragic loss of Allan Simonsen at Le Mans.

Like many say - "Gone but never forgotten".

Come the race all the Aston Martin GT3's again struggled for pace and weren't able to improve too much on their starting positions. Come the compulsory stops Beechdean was P6, MP Motorsport P7 and both Motorbase cars in P9 & 10 respectively were the pick of the bunch. Back in GT4 the Beechdean duo of Wylie and Giddings were fairing a little better in 5th.

Contact between the Eastwood's Ferrari 458, the MP Motorsport's Vantage and the 888 BMW Z4 would prove controversial at the end. At the chequered flag Mark Poole was to finish in 5th position on track but was to have his result excluded for 'conduct unbecoming' in that collision with the Ferrari together with 4 penalty points added to his race licence. Beyond that John Gaw was the highest placed Aston Martin GT3 finisher in 4th with the Beechdean GT3 close behind in 5th. Better luck was to be had for Aston Martin in GT4 with the #407 Beechdean of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings finishing again on the podium in P2.

Race 2 was to be equally eventful as the first.

Firstly, whilst MP Motorsports were desperately dealing with a brake issue they missed to the pit lane closing and they would be forced to start from the pit lane and not their qualification position. Following the warm up lap and the green flag chaos was to ensue at Riches with 3 cars being punted off the circuit and heavily into the barriers - red flag.

Cars involved were the #888 BMW of Luke Hines, the #28 Horsepower Racing Vantage of Andy Schulz and the #6 of PGF-Kinfaun and John Gaw all with serious damage but thankfully no injuries being reported to the drivers. Many suggestions state that the cause was an poorly judged move by the Kinfaun car. Also seriously damaged was the armco and tyre wall and that would take the best part of an hour to repair to a satisfactory degree to allow a restart. The misfortune for some was also fortunate for others in allowing MP Motorsport to move back into their original starting position of P9 when the restart finally came about less than an hour before the circuits curfew time. As a result of this the final Ginetta GT5 race would be scrubbed from the timetable such was the delay.

On the restart Jonny Adam was soon able to stretch out a decent lead over the chasing pack of over 14 seconds. Michael Caine wasn't being so fortunate with black and white warning flags being shown to him for exceeding track limits with the now infamous MSV electronic sensors! With Adam being almost the last car to pit Andrew Howard jumped in at the change over to inherit a 14second lead with Paul White in his Strata21 in P3 and Mark Poole back in P7. Back in GT4 things were heating up just as well with Wylie chasing down the leading Ginetta of Adrian Barwick for P1 whilst TF Sport's Andrew Jarman was in P4.

Then things started to get a little 'nervous'. The Beechdean car was initially loosing time hand over fist to Gary Eastwood's Ferrari before Andrew Howard was able to stabilise the gap whilst in GT4 Ross Wylie in the #407 Beechdean received a stop and go penalty for a too short a pit stop - that would destroy their race. Then, having hauled himself up to P2 Andrew Jarman had some sort of incident that left him stranded on circuit without power and tumbling down the order before he was able to set off again.

Moments later Andrew Howard was able to bring the Beechdean GT3 home in first position a comfortable 13seconds ahead of Eastwood in his Ferrari as it turned out but who in turn was only 10 seconds ahead of the #21 Strata 21 pairing of Paul White and Tom Onslow Cole for their first British GT podium finish. Seeing that the #21 wasn't their normal stead I'm just wondering if they would prefer to keep this one whilst theirs is having a well earned rest??

Beechdean now take an 11.5 point lead in GT3 away with them ready for the next round at the Spa Francorchamps circuit in three weeks time. Back in GT4 the Beechdean sister car also takes a 7 point lead over the chasing TF-Sport Vantage of Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell for the third and final double header of the season.

Photo Credits - British GT / Jacob Ebrey

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