Challenging weekend for Beechdean in Imola

Monday, May 16, 2016

The challenges of racing at a race track where non of your drivers have competitively raced before are obviously but despite this and together with the loss of the final 45 minutes of the race Beechdean Motorsport still manage to leave the second round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series at Imola as championship leaders.

With AMR works driver Darren Turner again deputising for the ever busy Jonny Adam, the team were still hoping to emulate the successes of the opening round at Silverstone but with a couple of the Ferrari teams having drafted in some more notable Pro drivers into their line up and on home turf in Italy as well, that would always be difficult.

During both Free Practice sessions the blue and white V8 Vantage GTE was obviously struggling to maintain the speeds of the more nimble Ferrari's although they did shave off over a second in their lap times but a disappointing Qualifying left the #99 car starting from last on the grid.

The four hour race ahead of them all was not lost as the very technical circuit was bound to claim a few 'victims' along the way and indeed by the end of the first hour (and the first pit stop) Andrew Howard had risen to P5 in class but some twelve seconds behind the JMW Ferrari ahead of them in forth. He would hand over to Alex MacDowall.

Fifth place remained the situation on track for the next two hours of so except for the car yo-yoing up and down the leader board as and when the cars ahead pitted. With the car seemingly picking up in performance as the hot track laid more rubber down Darren Turner was able to clock the then fastest (GTE) lap of the race to eventually claim another position on track (to fourth).

With Turner now having handed the car back to Alex MacDowall for what would be a double stint, they had dropped them back down to fifth by the time the torrential rain arrived and swept across the circuit. Whilst many less experienced were loosing their heads and falling off the circuit the implementation of the Full Course Yellow would at least help to preserve the number of cars on track whilst all hoped the rain would quickly pass. The release of the Safety Car again rose hopes between those in all classes of a last mad dash to the line with all the gaps now having been closed but the risk of that 'mad dash' was enough of a threat for Race Control to end the 4Hrs of Imola behind the Safety Car and none would be allowed to improve.

That result earned the team ten valuable championship points to remain at the top of the leader board head by just two points ahead of the AT Racing Ferrari. The next round of the ELMS will be at the Red Bull Ring, Austria on 17th July and just maybe Jonny Adam will make an appearance as there appears to be no clash with the Blancpain or British GT Calendar - but in the meantime the Beechdean GTE has the Le Mans 24Hr to look forward to !!

Photo credits - Adrenal Media

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