Mixed bag of results for the Aston runners at Spa

Monday, July 10, 2017

Saturday's two, one hour races of the British GT Championship from Spa Francorchamps left the all three Aston Martin Racing customer teams wanting for what might have been.

Race 1 looked hopeful for the energetic driver line up behind the #24 MacMillan Racing V12 Vantage GT3 having claimed second place on the grid during Qualifying whilst the two, TF Sport cars struggled for outright pace to start from 8th (#11) and 12th (#1).

Equally, the sister MacMillan Racing GT4 car looked hopeful after drivers Jan Jonck and Will Phillips claimed their highest qualifying position so far this year with a third with the #62 Academy Motorsport not too far behind in P5.

With no true live TV stream available from the event (everything being based upon the timing screen and restricted track security camera shots of the event) it was hard to keep up to date with events on track with many incidents and accidents going unseen.

All we did know was that on the opening lap Derek Johnston, who was opening for the #1 TF Sport spun half way around the lap and had to wait for the entire grid to pass him before rejoining but at least the two Safety Car periods within the first 20 minutes helped him to recover the situation slightly.

Such was the impact of the Safety Car was that there had only been three racing laps in that first 20minute period and by the time green flag racing resumed many were pitting to swap to their Pro drivers anyway.

Despite having run for much of the opening stint in second the Silver/Silver ballast weight applied to the #24 car was beginning to hurt and the car gradually but evidently became easy pickings along the Kemmel Straight.

Two quiet but consistent drives from Mark Farmer and then Jon Barnes in the #11 TF Sport car at least gave them the highest AMR finishing position with P6 whilst Jonny Adam in the #1 car had recovered to P9 after Johnston's earlier spin. The #24 would ultimately finish a disappointing P10.

Unfortunately for the #42 MacMillan car, Jonck and Phillips had to settle for a very credible P4 with the #62 in P6 - valuable points for all non the less.

With Race 2 starting just a couple of hours later it seemed that the AMR GT3 runners were all on the back foot with non starting any higher than P5 for the #1 car. Again, the #42 MacMillan car had had another good qualifying session the day before allowing them to start the Pro race from P3 on the grid.

For this race we were at least blessed with a clean start which allowed the race to form in its natural way and without too much mister-miners. We have however, seen a video clip of the #62 getting side swiped by the #7 Bentley as they and the guesting Kessel Racing Ferrari made their way up from Eau Rouge either side of the V8 Vantage, nearly putting Matt Nichol-Jones into the barrier.

By the time of the compulsory stops, the #1 car had made its way up to P2 by the time Adam handed over to Johnston, its sister car was holding 6th whilst the #24 had elevated itself to P8.

Soon after coming out of the pits however, Johnston was to suffer another spin whilst trying to overtake the Kessel Ferrari loosing himself over eight seconds - a mistake that would cost the car a probable podium finish.

With Mitchell now in the #24 car he was soon having a great tussle with Mark Farmer in the #11 car for position, a position that Mitchell would ultimately take and consolidate as was Will Moore, now in the #62 Academy GT4 as he battled with the then class leading McLaren.

Unfortunately, a pit timing issue would see the #62 car revisit pit lane for their stop and hold penalty - an error that would cost them a sure podium finish.

With just minutes remaining and with a drive through being applied to the #31 Bentley ahead, the #24 MacMillan car would find themselves elevated to third cum the chequered flag.

For TF Sport, this race was again not what they had hoped for but at least each car again scored valuable points in the team championship. For MacMillan, the GT3 podium was just reward for that cars hard graft with its sister GT4 #42 car again finishing P4 - great reward (although unlucky for it not to be on the podium) for the two drivers who have till now endured masses amount of misfortune.

The results from Spa change the championship standings slightly with Mitchell and Littlejohn swapping places in the Drivers Championship with Adam and Johnston although the gap between them (now in third) and the drivers from the #33 Barwell Lamborghini in first being huge. In GT4 the Academy crew of Nichol-Jones and Moore retain P6 with the #42 crew now behind them in P7.

British GT returned to the trace at Brands Hatch in early August.

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey

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