Scooby goes for a run in Belgium

Monday, October 20, 2014

Last weekend saw Aston Martin Racing enter the Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage GT3 into other side of the Blancpain GT Series to what they are normal accustom by entering the Blancpain GT Sprint Series at its penultimate event at the historic Zolder circuit in Belgium.

Accompanying regular driver Jonny Adam was no other than former F2 champion Andy Soucek who came to the team with previous winning Blancpain Endurance Series experience in one of the ART McLaren MP4-12C's. To date though Soucek had never driven an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 so was surely a bit of a 'wild card'?

Going into Free Practice 1 and 2 you would have never had thought that that was the case with the #107 car featuring in P2 and P3 at the end of each respective session only behind the series front running Bhaitech McLaren's and Belgium Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8's. Even going into Q1, and with Soucek having completed his stint, the #107 sat in provisional pole position but with Adam not finding good pace and rhythm (and with the top of the field progressing to beat Soucek's Q1 time) the Beechdean car finished qualifying down in P14 and would not progress into Q3.

Come the rolling start to commence the one hour sprint that would be the Qualifying race a wise Jonny Adam held back a little from his P14 start position to take into consideration the chaos that would be the opening lap and to that end would move up four places by the end of the lap. Later into his stint Adam would have a good scrap with the BWW Z4's of ROAL Motorsport and Team Brazil. Just before the half hour mark and with a Safety Car out on track Adam followed the top ten cars in for their mandatory pitstop just before the half hour mark.

Coming straight out of the blocks Soucek quickly found pace  and with twenty minutes remaining had moved up to P7 before coming up behind, and losing time, to the remaining Bhaitech McLaren. After several laps behind the #60 it took an audacious move starting at the exist of turn 1 to get past the McLaren. This manoeuvre was later repeated on the #0 ROAL Z4 but a braking point misjudgement at the first chicane caused the Vantage to be launched across the kerbing compromising its exit speed leading to a side by side entry into the second chicane forcing Soucek to travel through the gravel to avoid a collision.

Despite this track limit altercation the #107 was confirmed in P5 come the chequered flag - a great result.

Come the Sunday main race the drivers, particularly Soucek were equally bullish of their race prospects.   Starting in P5 with Soucek behind the wheel the #107 was overtaken by a couple of cars into Turn 1 but because of the carnage that later ensued on Lap 1 he managed to recover the car back to P6 by the time the Safety Car was deployed. After the restart Soucek soon became baulked behind another Bhaitech Mclaren just like he was in the Qualifying Race. 

Before loosing too much time with the McLaren a massive crash to the GT Russian Team Mercedes SLS neutralised the race again after the Safety Car was deployed for the second time. With the pit window opening Soucek stayed out the longest of the original top 10 cars hoping to make up the deficit to the leaders whilst the track was at it quietest. It didn't pay off and Jonny Adam exited the pits in P4 before the HTP Mercedes beats them out after their stop just a further lap later - P5 for the Beechdean again.

Despite chasing a somewhat 'wounded' Mercedes Adam wouldn't be able to capitalise on any aero impairment the HTP car may have been suffering and would end the race sandwiched between the Mercedes and the Bhaitech McLaren. P5 again.

Considering that this was the first time the drivers had worked together , the first time Soucek had driven an Aston Martin and the first time the team had entered the Sprint Series a brace of fifth positions is nothing to be sniffed at. It was a great achievement by all.

Qualifying and Main race video

The teams now ship out to Azerbaijan and the city of Baku for the final round of the Blancpain Sprint Series in two weeks time. With this being Beechdean's first experience of a street circuit - it should be interesting!

Photo credits - Blancpain GT Series

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