Action packed European GT4 opener leaves Academy wanting

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

What an opening round to the new European GT4 Series Northern Cup from Misano over the weekend that was!!

 Coming from a single series last year with healthy grid attendances, 2017 has seen the series morph into a Northern Cup and Southern Cup series with an entry list of 33 cars for the double header in Italy alone.

Entered into Round 1 were two Aston Martin Racing built V8 Vantage GT4's belonging to Belgium team Street Art Racing (who were last years AM Champions) and their first full season entry from Academy Motorsport. Both cars have been entered into the Pro class.

Qualifying for Saturday's night race Academy's Matt Nichol-Jones secured P6 in their #62 car whilst Jerome Demay struggled in his #007 car back in P31. Better was to come in Q2 when an exclusion promoted the Will Moore #62 up to P1 for race 2 with Denis Dupont up to P13 in the #007.

There was soon drama in Misano as the headline Blancpain event caused the race programme to seriously overrun by virtue of a sizeable, multi car accident at the start of their first race causing the European GT4 opener to moved back later by over two hours.

When the race did eventually start Nichol-Jones was soon back into his racing grove gaining four places on the opening laps to pick up P2 overall. A brief Safety Car period at the start for dropped oil on the track didn't deter any of the drivers cum the restart as cars all around jostled for position. For lap after lap Nichol-jones pushed the #112 Porsche Cayman for the lead before the #62 finally succeeded twenty minutes into the one hour race before loosing it again just before the Academy car pulled off into the pit lane for its mandatory stop.

Demay, in the decorative Street Art Racing Vantage had obviously enjoyed some equally energetic racing (sadly unseen by the camera and in the absence of any working timing pages) as he had elevated themselves up to P16 by the time of their mandatory pit stop.

Both Astons Pitted at the half hour mark for their one minute minimum pit stop.

On his own outlap, Will Moore soon drew the continued attention of the leading #112 Porsche as an unnecessary side slap into the Aston from the leader momentarily forced the #62 car wide - a move that earned that driver an investigation from Race control although (we believe) no action was ultimately taken.

By the time the pit window had closed and positions had equaled themselves out Moore was ten seconds down to the leading KTM X-Bow of L Marioneck with another Porsche hard on his tail but with just six minutes remaining the #92 Porsche finally took P2 from Moore.

With a P3 podium still looking a like a good result from a hard race the #92 was then awarded a late drive through penalty for improving under waved yellow flags - that obviously lifted the #62 back to P2  come the chequered flag a few moments later. In the other car, Dupont managed to bring their car home in P10 - another fine recovery drive after a disappointing qualifying!

After a shorter tun expected overnight break, race 2 would see last night's finishers take the start of race 2 under the very warm springtime time sun of the Adriatic circuit and of course that would see Will Moore control the grid from the front having been promoted to pole in Q2.

The advantage was soon unfortunately lost however as the #62 car was overtaken by two Porsches going into T1 with the #007 being very fortunate to avoid two spinning X-Bows into the same corner. 'Normality' was soon to resume as Moore soon established a comfortable race pattern in P2 with Dupont a few cars behind in P7.

Race 2 was being raced in an equally competitive pace as race 1 with just as many overtaking manoeuvres happening at nearly every corner due to the equality in performance of all the cars. By the time the #62 pitted (again at the half way mark) the race looked comfortable for the Academy car although the pace of the leading Porsche did appear to be a little hot for them at times.

Just as the #62 car pitted, race Control announced that Moore had used all their tolerance of exceeding track limits during his half of the race and any further transgressions would be met with suitable penalties being applied.

By the time race 2's pit window had concluded the #62 retained P3 overall but Nichol-Jones appeared to be struggling with grip and traction as those behind him closed the gap - the prospect of a drive through for exceeding track limits certainly didn't help matters either and wasn't long before the Academy had slipped down to P5. That was soon remedied however when two the X-Bows in front of him took each other out of the race coming out of the final corner - back to P3!!

With just nine minutes remaining Nichol-Jones tried to take an inside line into T12 from a back marking Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati one or both drivers misjudging the situation causing both cars to make contact and spin - loosing track position for the #62 and the race for the now stranded Maserati.

Even the resulting Safety car period wasn't enough for the #62 to recover themselves from that ending the race behind the Street Art Racing car in P7 and P9 respectively.

Despite the set back in the second race the Adaemy team can look back at the Misano event with pride as it does show that V8 Vantage still has a raceable BoP against the newer GT4 models. The new Street Art Racing will soon find their racing feet helping to push their car up the leader board as well.

Next event is at Brands hatch over the 6-7th May.

Photo credit - Academy / European GT4 / Street Art Racing

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