Frustration for most of Team AMR at Oulton Park opening race

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Returning to the idyllic Cheshire circuit some weeks later into the year than normal, the double header that would form the third round of the British GT Championship had already begun to shape itself to a thriller with two, one hour races set for Bank Holiday Monday having had the qualifying sessions on the Saturday before.

Gloriously clear blue skies and sunshine greeted a huge crowd of race fans young and old as they made their way through the gate and shorts and T shirts were the apparel of the day!!

Saturday's qualifying had been set with the Pro and Am each setting a time for the starting positions for each of the two races on Monday, with the Ams starting Race 1 and the Pro's Race 2. Fresh from their two wins at the proceeding rounds at Brands Hatch and Rockingham, current championship leading TF Sport's Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam had to be rated again as favourites although they could only muster P4 for Race 1 behind both of the every improving Lamborghini Huracan's and the TPR Bentley.

In the GT4 class the Rockingham round winning #407 Beechdean of Jack Bartholomew was the highest Aston starting P2 in class behind the championship leading #50 Ginetta of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.

Race 1 started with the JWB Motorsport AMR GT4 with Kieran Griffin missing from the grid although he would eventually start the race from the pit lane. The main loser at the start of race 1 was however the #1 AMR GT3 of reigning champion Andrew Howard who fell back several places during the opening two laps, a process that was only thwarted in magnitude by a Safety Car that was needed during the recovery of a Ginetta GT4 that had crashed heavily into the tyre wall on the second lap. That in itself allowed the JWB GT4 to latch up on the rear of the #44 Generation AMR of James Holder who was himself racing in his first race of the series.

Taking up the next fifteen minutes or so of the one hour race, the Safety Car was removed just before the pit window opened but prior to most pitting more woe was to befall the #47 JWB car at the half hour point as Griffin front ended his car into the tyre wall at Knickerbrook ending his race on the spot. That was not what the team wanted having already sustained serious front and rear damage during a free practice session on Saturday.

With all now having made the mandatory pit stops it should have become a straight race to the flag with the Pro drivers now in the cars. Both the TF Sport GT3's were having a great race between themselves for fourth position with AMR Factory driver Jonny Adam having his work cut out trying to pass its sister #11 car but for some excellent driving from Jon Barnes.

They were however fighting over the spoils as by then the top three had already pulled some significant distance away from them making any chance of a podium unlikely. Ross Gunn, now in the Beechdean would also have a great but short lived scrap with Motorbase's Ross Wylie as later they would be 'awarded' a 10 second Stop/Go penalty for a pit stop transgression that would put absolute pay to achieving any sort of result.

Back in GT4 the opening pace proved to be a bit hot for the #407 Beechdean together with some very aggressive driving from the pursuing pack that would ultimately lead to the car dropping down the running order to end the race dicing with their stablemate entry from Generation AMR SuperRacing to finish sixth in class. Nothing was really expected from the #44 at Oulton Park as at the previous two rounds Jamie Chadwick had supported Matt George whilst SuperDry designer and co owner, James Holder was away on business so their P7 in class was an achievement in itself.

The notable exception within Race 1 was the fulfilling of the potential within the #42 MacMillan Racing AMR GT4 of Matty Graham and Jack Mitchell who climbed from their lowly starting position of P8 on the grid to finish a fantastic P2 in class. This was great reward for a young driver line up that clearly has much potential in their first year of GT racing.

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