Silverware galore as GT4 European Series visits Brands Hatch

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Another impressive haul of race silverware were dispatched to the respective team's mantlepieces today as the SRO sanctioned GT4 European Series paid their annual visit to Brands Hatch this weekend for the second round of the season.

Although bright but distinctly chilly, the Kent Grand Prix circuit paid no resemblance to the rain soaked race track that was Monza and the opening to races of the season just over three weeks ago as the seven full season Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4's arrived looking to make amends to their poor performances in Italy in both the Silver Cup and Pro-Am classes.

Having undergone some tender loving care at the Prodrive factory the week before, both the #7 Street Art Racing and #18 Prosport Performance cars arrived at the circuit having had some previous accident damage from previous rounds of the GT4 European and ADAC GT4 Germany Series respectively repaired and that was put to good use by Florian Thoma in the red #18 car by securing pole in todays first race.

For many drivers, it was their first racing experiences of the circuit (including Thoma) but that didn't hold any of them back as they are diced for position on the opening laps. An early FCY temporally neutralised everything as a stranded car was recovered before a Safety Car period was needed for a heavier impact with the pit straight concrete wall involving a Mercedes. Nearly 25% race time was lost to that incident but the driver walked away uninjured and that was all that mattered at the time.

With the start of the pit window looming just after the restart Academy Motorsport's Matt Cowley looked particularly racey as he looked to make up placed before handing over to Will Moore. For the #18 Prosport car - their pit stop cost them their race lead and new driver Akhil Rabindra soon came under pressure himself for P2 overall and in the Silver Cup class. Julien Darras in the #17 Street Art Racing car headed a long stream of cars that allowed Tom Wood of Academy to make up ground in his own Pro-Am battles.

As the hour ticked by, various last minute lunges were coming into play with track limits also being exceeded by many. Rabindra survived to claim their first podium of the season by virtue of the challenging Audi R8 overdoing things and planting themselves into the armco whilst Moore would get pinged for track limits very close to the end of the race, all but destroying their good run in P10 until then.

With Prosport claiming P2 overall also came class honours as the re-liveried car of Fiona James and Tom Wood secured P3 in Pro-Am whilst the #17 Street Art Racing car of Pascal Bachmann and Clement Seyler initially claimed P1 in the Am Class although that was later adjusted to P3 after being adjudged to have overtaken under the Safety Car.

Race 2 later this afternoon was to be equally entertaining as again the #18 Prospeed car, this time with Rabindra taking the start, being the highest placed AMR in P4 although that was sadly not to last too long before he got spun around at Druids on the first lap before then being given a drive through penalty for causing that collision.

The #62 Academy car of Moore also came away from the opening lap with front end damage that was causing his bonnet to lift forcing him to pit voluntarily before he was possibly forced to by Race Control. In such a short race window that put pay to any chances of a decent points haul for him and Cowley.

With some very hard inter marque racing going on around the full Grand Prix loop, honours were being left to Julien Darras in the #17 car as he latched upon the rear of the train battling for P2 overall before he has to pit to swap over to Jamie Vandenbalck. The sister #19 Prosport car of David Griessner wasn't too far behind after the pit stop in P6 after a good in lap from team mate Jeremy Sarhy.

Again, with little over 15 minutes of the race remaining the customary penalties for pit stop minimum times, track limits and the odd car stuck in a gravel trap came into play to affect the leaderboard. Vandenbalck was content to watch the KTM and Audi in front battle for position with a high likelihood of race ending contact being made that would take both of them out of the race - this time that didn't happen and the #7 car would finish P4 overall despite a very late Safety Car - still good points for them after the disappointment of Monza.

For Griessner, a drive through penalty for track limits would see them ultimately finish right down in P17 because of the tightness in the field caused by the Safety Car. For others the finishing result vindicated hard work and effort from within as Tom Wood and Fiona James secured a second podium of the day with their P3 Pro-Am class finish whilst the #17 Am car of Bachmann and Seyler secured another class win to add to race one's and those from Monza - this time without any post race penalty.

As the teams ready themselves for the next round of the season at Paul Ricard in southern France at the end of May, the new turbo vcahrged Vantage GT4 has again proved its new worth - particularly with those with non professional driving abilities as the AMR brand secures another five podiums in the Series so far.

For the venerable 2016 specification AMR Vantage GT4 of Generation AMR SuperRacing, Brands Hatch would be the last time that they would enter this car in the Series - underpowered compared and only able to compete in the INV class, the team look forward to getting their new 2019 specification AMR from Prodrive in time for Ricard.

Photo credits - GT4 European Series

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