Drama on and off the track in Misano for GT4 European Series

Monday, July 01, 2019

The fourth round of the GT4 European Series from Misano, Italy at the weekend was very much a bizarre affair for the usual Aston Martin Racing customer teams even before the cars got unloaded from the transporters.

We had already heard how Generation AMR SuperRacing had elected not to attend (due to the prior business commitments from their paying Gentleman driver James Holder), how one quarter of the Academy Motorsport quartet was unable to attend through illness (although Fiona James would be replaced with the team's British GT racer Micah Stanley) and how half of the usual PROsport Performance entry couldn't attend due to insufficient time to make repairs caused to the car last time out at the ADAC Total 24H from the Nordschliefe.

There were also internal driver changes within the German based team as they took stock of their existing racing commitments in GT4 European Series, ADAC GT Masters, ADAC GT4 Germany and the 24H Series - even the the car that did attend was hobbled with transmission issues at the start of the meeting.

Then, even before the racing had started in earnest, we lost yet another AMR Vantage GT4 when the #62 Academy car of Will Moore and Matt Cowley couldn't be fixed from its ongoing engine/transmission issues despite the best of overnight attention from Matt Nichol-Jones' crew. That car would be sadly parked and retired even before Qualifying had started on Saturday morning.

That left the princely total of just four AMR cars remaining for the event - both cars from Street Art Racing competing in both Silver Cup and Am Class as well as one each from both PROsport Performance and Academy Motorsport in Silver Cup. The #61 car would have to step up from its usual Pro-Am Class to the Silver Cup due to the driver status of Stanley and co-driver Tom Wood.

Under the steering heat of race 1 things also didn't get off to a good start for Stanley in the #61 car as whilst defending the advances made from his P15 start position, the rear end of his silver and Yellow AMR was tapped into a spin by the #12 BMW with only Lady Luck stopping the car from being collected by the twenty or so cars that rushed around the corner after him. Stanley did get back going again but sadly not for too much longer.

The two Street Art Racing cars were doing well with the #7 car of Jamie Vandenbalck heading the AMR charge in P12 whilst team mate Pascal Bachmann harried to improve upon his P3 class position further back. David Griessner would have to start his #19 car from the pit lane due to their ongoing transmission issues but despite some small progress the white and red car would soon be back into pit lane and retirement from the race - soon to be joined by the #61 car before either co-driver had had a turn at the wheel.

With the two Street Art Racing cars now the sole AMR representatives after the pit stop, Julien Darras (now aboard the #7) and Clement Seyler (#17 Am class car) did what they could. That saw the young and still very inexperienced Seyler climb up the timing board to soon lay claim to another class podium with another P2 finish at the chequered flag - the #7 car finished just ahead of them on track but down in P16 position overall.

Better was hoped for race 2 on Sunday.

With Sunday morning can the continuation of the high temperatures being experienced right across Europe with an indicated 40deg C track temperature. Again tyre management would be critical!

With the change in drivers from Saturday Qualifying gave the first chance for Academy's Tom Wood and PROsport's Akhil Rabindra to shine with Wood leading the AMR Buch from P10 and Rabindra bringing up the rear from P32 after their problems Friday and Saturday.

At the start, Wood showed off his early intentions advancing his car up from P10 to P7 in all the first sequence of corners whilst Rabindra had gone many better, improving his track position by ten cars on the opening lap alone. The battles Wood would find himself embroiled in for P6 would keep him entertained until the pit stop whilst Selyer's #17 car would soon find themselves with another foot on the Am Class podium P2 in class just ahead of that stop.

With the introduction of a Full Course Yellow immediately prior to the start of the Pit Stop Window (and it would last until the end of the Pit Stop Window), that added to the normal congestion in pit lane but all four AMR cars (inadvertently to one another) decided to stagger their stops - reducing the risk of a delay changing over to the second drivers.

Stanley would exit the pits from P6 but within close proximity to four of the cars ahead ahead of him, giving him a clear target to aim for. Julian Darras' #7 SAR car was P8 and Griessner P18 in the #19 car. It also wouldn't take long for Bachmann to finally secure the class lead in his #17 car with just twenty minutes remaining.

This time it would be Stanley's turn to have the 'fun' in the #61 car as he battled with first the #2 and then the #777 Mercedes for that coveted P6 position until the flag. Unfortunately for him, that was a battle he would eventually loose to the more experienced J Rehnig in the Mercedes but P7 overall was still a great finish - especially considering the circumstances that they had found themselves in just prior to the meeting. Darras/Vandenbalck would finish just behind them I'm P8, Griessner/Rabindra P13 and the #17 car of Bachmann/Seyler taking their umpteenth Am Class podium so far.

These results leave Seyler/Bachmann as clear leaders in the Am Class with a thirty point advantage and second in the Team title race with just two meetings to go.

As the Series now moves onto Zandvoort in just two weeks time, we will wait to see what was affecting the #62 car of Moore/Cowley as well as what or who will continue racing for PROsport Performance now that Florian Thoma has moved over t the teams ADAC GT Masters campaign.

Photo credits - GT4 European Series

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