A good weekend despite the conditions for Academy in GT4 European Series

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Academy Motorsport managed treacherous conditions at the Hungaroring last weekend (1st – 2nd September). Competing in the penultimate round of the GT4 European Series, the team splashed their way to two solid finishes.

Marred by rain for much of the weekend, the team were faced with difficult conditions. Following qualifying, both Matt Nicoll-Jones and Fiona James were ready for their double race appearance.

Nicoll-Jones, took the start of race one, in what were dry conditions initially. An early safety car period controlled the pace for six minutes, whilst two cars were rescued from a first corner incident. Once clear, the race resumed, with Nicoll-Jones a man on a charge, as he chased down one position after another.

As the pit window opened, the rain began to fall, creating the all important question of whether to remain on slick tyres or switch to wet tyres. As conditions quickly worsened, the safety car was deployed once again, to help manage the situation. 

After swapping from Nicoll-Jones to team-mate James, the team’s Aston Martin GT4 Vantage was back on track, albeit still under the control of the safety car. After bravely opting to remain on slick tyres, James pitted for a quick swap to wets, as more rain began to fall.

As light faded and thunder and lightning appeared, the train of GT4 machinery mirrored the safety car lap after lap until officials deemed the circuit to be unsafe. With less than 20 minutes remaining, enough of the race had been completed to allow the result to stand. As James steered her way into the pits, the team celebrated a strong fifth place in class. 

Race two began in similar circumstances, as rain fell around the circuit. With James in control for the first half this time around, she navigated her way to the mandatory pit stops without fault, as the track began to dry and lap times increased.

Nicoll-Jones climbed aboard for the second half of the race, only to be greeted with a reappearance of rain. As he mastered the setting around him, he steered his way up to a strong class position, only to be haltered by the safety car once again. As one of the Mercedes race cars was left stranded in the middle of the circuit following an incident, the safety car was deployed to neutralise the pace.

After a number of laps behind the safety car, and with less than two minutes on the clock, the red flag was shown, causing another abrupt end to proceedings.

Looking back over the weekend, Matt Nicoll-Jones said: “It was a tough weekend in terms of the weather. Choosing the correct set-up and tyres is always difficult in changing conditions, but I think the team made the right call.

Fiona drove brilliantly and managed the conditions well. We leave the Hungaroring with two strong results and our car intact, which is always good. We now have a busy few weeks with two season finales to prepare for.”

Source material - Academy Motorsport
Photo credit - GT4 European

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