One lap doesn't make a race for AMR at Silverstone

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Despite the virtual lock out of the GTE Pro and GTE Am during qualifying, Aston Martin Racing were unable to convert that dominance into more than just a single podium finish by the end of the 6Hrs of Silverstone.

With the Young Driver "Dane Train' having put their #95 Gulf liveried Vantage GTE onto pole at what was their first race since elevating up to Pro status, having their sister #97 and #99 Pro cars immediately behind them and with the 2014 class champions apparently languishing further down the lap charts all weekend - all appeared good for AMR on paper at least!

The weather on race day was also due to play 'ball' being unseasonably warm and and dry all in direct contrast to last year's race, but there was to be a very strong prevailing wind running the length of the International Pit Straight that would ultimately plague all the cars for the whole race.

The race day rituals started bright and early for the #95 and #99 crews having made some small adjustments to the cars over night the team made the prudent choice of running both cars back to Scrutineering just to doubly check that the cars remained within permitted parameters. Then, just before the public were let loose down the pit lane for the customary pit walk last minute, driver change practices became the order of the morning.

Prior to the race the cars presented themselves at the grid, but this time they backed themselves towards the pit wall Le Mans style (new for this year). Then, having the cleared the grid from the VIP grid walkers the cars were careful choreographed by the leading safety car so that the thunderous grid would be ready to hit the start/finish line bang on 12 noon, ready to be unleashed for what was to be the first round of the 2015 World Endurance Championship.

By the end of the first lap the AMR Pro cars were holding their starting 1-2-3 station relative to one another  and even mixing it with some P1 cars for the first couple of corners. Soon Nikki Thiim in the #95 Young Driver AMR began putting in a series of very quick laps to pull away from Darren Turner in the #97 who had himself just taken the #99 car of Richie Stanaway for second in class. At one point Thiim's lead was over twenty seconds.

Stanaway soon came under intense pressure from the chasing Manthey Porsche's and earned himself two track limit warnings in quick succession for pushing the boundaries of track limits at Turn 9 Copse. Back in GTE Am Stuart Hall in the #96 Gulf Racing car had already dispatched several cars who started in front of him and was hounding the rear bumper of stable mate Pedro Lamy in the #98. They would enjoy countless laps of 'enjoyable' racing together.

As a whole, and up till this point things were looking fairly good for the Aston Martin Racing cars in both classes. The turning point came just before the first hour with the first Full Course Yellow of the race due to a P2 hitting the barriers at Copse followed by a subsequent Full Course Yellow soon after.

The inability of the Vantage GTE to hold enough fuel to take it much past the hour mark was the achilles heal from last year and despite Thiim entering the pit lane with a twenty second advantage over his rivals the ability of both the Manthey Porsche's and AF Corse Ferrari's to positively make use of the these FCY's would see each AMR cascade down the order sheet as and when they made their scheduled stops. The problem wasn't of their making but they were to be the victims of the situation that presented itself.

In GTE Am the #98 Lamy/Dalla Lana/Lauda car was fairing a little better by maintaining a top position throughout the pit stop cycles of the leading GTE Am cars. In the #96 a hobbling Roald Goethe exited his #96 car to allow new boy, Francesco Castellacci to have his first competitive race of the weekend and in the Gulf Vantage.

At the end of each of the 3rd, 4th and 5th hours of the race the story on track remained the same. The Pro AMR cars, headed by the #95 Young Driver car were still playing catch up with the class leading #51 AF Corse of Vilander/Bruni who had at the end had a winning margin of over a lap to the fourth placed #95 AMR.

Turner and Mucke would finish in P5 with the #99 MacDowall/Rees/Stanaway car finishing P6.

From a team perspective Sundays results have to be taken away in a positive light. The cars showed good outright pace for not just qualifying but also average race pace in comparison with the Ferrari's and Porsche's. The team acknowledges that time was lost to their rivals during each of the pit stop cycles to a point where the #95 and #98 both had to do a 'splash and dash' in the final five minutes of the race just to make the chequered flag.

Without performance breaks for the team this mileage deficit is going to be hard to overcome to allow the cars to compete with the AF Corse Ferrari's and Manthey Porsche's on a 'level field' and without having to rely upon the misfortune of others.

In GTE Am Pedro Lamy brought home the #98 Northwest sponsored Vantage car that he shares with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda for a fine GTE Am class victory that was thoroughly deserved, not just by them but by the team as a whole.

"Pedro and Mathias did a great job to get us a strong lead and this meant that when we had to do a quick ‘splash and dash’ we were still able to take the win. They both did a fantastic job!" said Dalla Lana afterwards.

The other #96 Am car of Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall and Francesco Castellacci finished two laps down to the winning #98 car fourth in class in what has to be remembered as only their first race back in the WEC having taken 'a year out' in 2014 so that was still a decent result for them as well.

Round two of the WEC is at Spa Francorchamps on May 2nd - the last real race simulation before the big one at Le Mans in June and round three!! From what we have seen this weekend at Silverstone we know that we are going to be in for a good race.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Technorati
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis
  • MySpace
  • LinkedIn
  • Live
  • Google
  • Reddit
  • Sphinn
  • Propeller
  • Slashdot
  • Netvibes