Blancpain GT Endurance - Silverstone

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Silverstone is the destination for the five Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3's of R-Motorsport, Garage 59 and Oman Racing with TF Sport as their Pro Class cars look to take another step forward and for their amateur drivers to consolidate on what was achieved last time out at a rain soaked Monza.

With both R-Motorsport having just completed the opening round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe with one podium success at Brands Hatch last weekend, it will be a quick turn around for their Arden/Jota crew with their #62 and #76 cars in time for tomorrows private testing sessions.

For the #76 car, Nicki Thiim again deputises for Aston Martin Racing WEC factory driver team mate Alex Lynn due to his prior Formula E Commitments with the Dane again joining Jake Dennis and Marvin Kirchhofer in the car. This trio will be hoping to avoid any repeat of Monza after untimely punctures and a drive through penalty robbed the car of car chance of any championship points.

The same would apply to the #62 car which maintains the line up of Maxime Martin, Matt Parry and Mattieu Vaxivierre. Having just driven one of the best races of his career to win the WEC 6Hrs of Spa Francorchamps last weekend in atrocious weather conditions (far worse than what was endured at Monza) we can bet that the Belgium remains fired out and will arrive at the circuit fresh from some Vantage GT3 testing with his ADAC GT Masters team in the Czech Republic this week.

Garage 59, convertees from McLaren GT to Aston Martin over the winter months had a thoroughly eventful but still productive return to the Blancpain GT Series with their two new Vantage GT3's that are entered into both the Pro and Am classes.

Team co-owner Alexander West drove a remarkable double stint in the race as the car's third driver (TV's Chris Harris) was absent from the race due to his prior commitments. His first stint included having to sit in a gravel trap waiting to be extracted for over two laps having been tapped off the circuit by another car behind, an incident which first appeared to have destroyed any chance of a result for them. In motor racing stance things do occasionally happen and once second driver Chris Goodwin was behind the wheel a final hour of quick laps elevated their #188 car to P4 at the chequered flag. That would then be changed to P3 in Class after a post race penalty was served to a car that finished above them.

The team's full Pro car of AMR's Jonny Adam, AMR junior driver Andrew Watson and former McLaren GT factory driver Come Ledagar, Monza saw their race car 'hobbled' with damage early in the race - not enough to force repairs but enough to hinder any expected progress up the leader board. Gambling by the team on tyre strategy first saw that paying off as Adam passed over to Watson but a Safety Car period saw that progress negated. The final hour saw Ledogar take his first competitive race aboard an Aston and his pace and the teams decision to return to full wets just as the rains began to fall again allowed him to finish in P9 in the #59 car - the top finish of any of the AMR runners.

Finally but certainly no means least is the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport car of Ahmad Al Harthy, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood. First time out together in Monza was another of those 'character building' races for the now Pro-Am crew as punctures (like the many there were throughout the grid) slowed their ultimate pace. Despite this the crew still came through to claim P3 in class.

Add to that the positive benefits of both Yoluc and Eastwood coming away from the WEC at Spa with both a class pole and P2 finish in the wet/snowy and wild conditions of last week then the #97 will be another podium contender at Silverstone.

With the weather predicted to remain cool with a small chance of some isolated showers between now and Saturday evening at least race day on Sunday is looking both brighter and warmer.

Good luck to them all!

Photo credits - Blancpain / Garage 59 / R-Motorsport / TF Sport

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