British GT - Brands Hatch Race Report

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The penultimate round of the 2014 British GT season on Sunday at the picturesque Brands Hatch circuit was not to disappoint and provided some typical GT racing throughout its 31 car entry.

Prior to the meeting a few driver line up changes were announced within the Aston Martin Customer Teams - namely the withdrawal from the race of MP Motorsports owner/driver Mark Poole and Richard Abra with Colin White and Tom Sharp replacing them in the team's V12 Vantage. Another saw the  direct substitution of Aston Martin racing CEO John Gaw (at his own behest) with Craft -Bamboo Racing's Alex McDowall replacing him in the PGF-Kinfaun car.

Reasons for the Poole/Abra withdrawal was cited as being that they wanted to concentrate on their Blancpain Endurance endeavours and at this moment it is unknown whether or not we will see them back in British GT again. White/Sharp were able to set up a last minute, one of deal with MP Motorsport to use their Vantage having dropped their Ginetta G55 due to its poor performance/reliability.

As far as Alex McDowall was concerned this move was a simple racing decision by John Gaw to give 'works' driver  McDowall some competitive race time in a car to help bring him up to 'speed' prior to the next WEC round at CoTA in a couple of weeks time.

Another point of note was the ability of the #1 Beechdean GT3 car to come back from quite a substantial factory rebuild following its very scary looking collision with another car at the Spa24 enabling Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam to put it on pole position by nearly half a second after only a brief shakedown test at Snetterton during the week. Come Sunday morning warm up however the car would experience some break issues that would prevent it from entering a notable time.

Further down the grid the #407 Beechdean GT4 car would be again starting on pole in its respective group.

Come the rolling race start the #1 Beechdean car turned into Paddock Hill Bend in first position but the slightest of touches from behind by the #63 Trackspeed Porsche would be enough to upset the balance of the car leaving it on the back foot into Druids and with further 'rubbing' and a reoccurrence of the warm up break issues these would start to push the car back down the field leaving the #4 Oman Racing car of Ahmed Al Harthy in the lead.

Further down the track a decent start from Colin White in the MP Motorsport car would see it make contact with a slower GT4 car leaving the Vantage stranded in the gravel dropping it to last after recovery.

At the half hour mark Al Harthy was still leading with a controlled margin from the Porsche, including gaining the fastest lap with team mate Jeff Smith in the #5 Oman Racing car in third with Paul White's #21 car in eighth and the PGF-Kinfaun car of Phil Dryburgh in tenth. The #1 car of Howard had slipped back to 15th.

In GT4 the #407 Beechdean car of Jake Giddings was still ahead of the chasing TF Sport Vantage of Andrew Jarman.

Towards the end of the first hour further woe was to befall the #1 Beechdean car when an ambitious move on Andrew Howard's part saw contact made with the #888 BMW of Derek Johnston which put the Vantage into the pits with a puncture and the BMW beached a on kerb that would bring out a Safety Car to recover.

This Safety Car intervention would provide a critical move in the inter Aston Martin GT4 battle between the #407 Beechdean and #49 TF Sport car which would effectively put the TF Sport car almost a whole lap behind despite running only a few seconds behind prior. During its pit stop some twelve minutes later the #49 TF car would attempt to recover some crucial time by not changing tyres.

Further up the track the GT3 lead would swap in the pit lane following a faster stop from the #63 Trackspeed team leaving Oman Racing's Michael Caine to chase down the Porsche with Rory Butcher holding a watching brief in third.

With thirty minutes remaining Caine was P2, Butcher P3, McDowall P7, Onslow-Cole P8, P14 Schulz and Adam P16. Giddings was retaining a 44second lead in GT4.

With the leading Porsche of Phil Keen getting a puncture with only twenty minutes remaining and then its sister car of Nick Tandy taking the race lead the finishing order would be:-

P2 Al Harthy/Caine Oman Racing GT3
P3 Butcher/Smith Oman Racing GT3
P6 Dryburgh/McDowall GT3
P7 White/Onslow-Cole GT3
P14 Bailey/Schulz GT3
P15 White/Sharp GT3
P16 Howard/Adam GT3

P1 Giddings/Wylie GT4
P2 Jarman/Modell GT4

The result leaves the final race weekend of the season at Donington Park set up once again for an 'all or nothing' GT3 finale between the Oman Racing car of Ahmed Al Harthy and Michael Caine having a achievable mathematical chance against the BMW Z4 of Marco Attard who is 28.5 points in ahead.

The same is the case in GT4 with the Beechdean junior pairing of Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie having a similar lead over their championship rivals TF Sports Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell.

So there's plenty to win but certainly lots to loose for some!

Should make for a very tense race.

Photo credits - Richard Leach

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