Split fortune for Garage 59 at weather affected GTWC Sprint Cup at Zandvoort

Sunday, June 20, 2021


Split fortunes this weekend for the Garage 59 Aston Martin Racing team as they visited the coastal circuit of Zandvoort for the second round of the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup Series.

Having enjoyed the warmth and of Many-Cours first time out at the beginning of May, torrential rain over the circuit on Friday put paid to the warm temperatures and sunshine leading up to the event and also tossed the race timetable at the track up into the air as many sessions were cut short or even abandoned as the water levels rose around the track.

Back for Qualifying early Saturday morning, the rain had at least stopped but the wind had picked up, whipping up the sand from the dunes making some corners treacherous.

Again running two AMR Vantage GT3’s in the series - #188 Pro-Am entry for both Alex West and Jonny Adam and the #159 Silver Cup car for Tuomas Tujula and Nicolai Kjaergaard, it was the turn of the former drivers to Qualify their cars for the days one hour race with the #159 starting from P10 overall and the #188 from P26.

With Adam going on record as wanting consistency from the two races and preferably with two podium finishes for the #188 Pro-Am car, the bar was already set pretty high considering the tight and twisty characteristics of the old school Dutch racetrack.

Whilst West displayed a cautious approach to the race, Tujula was ambitious from the off as he went around the outside of cars at the first corner on the opening lap showing himself up as third fastest on track in the opening laps. Moving up to and holding P9 overall and P6 in class, the #159 was looking good as the halfway point whilst West had done what he needed to do by keeping up with the pack and not planting the car in any of the sand dunes or gravel traps nearby as both cars pitted.

Trouble soon struck the #159 car however, as Kjaergaard as he spun going into the final, banked turn of the lap – assisted or not we don’t know but the result was damage to the car that soon saw it confine itself to the pit lane for an unpalatable DNF.

Barring a brief FCY for debris, Adam was unable to do much about the #188’s time deficit on track eventually finishing P23 overall but more importantly finishing to claim P4 in class.

Sunday’s second race of the weekend had the race 1 finishing driver take the morning Qualifying session and this time the #188 car of Adam headed the team’s two cars as Kjaergaard struggled at the rear in P23.

Whilst the opening lap were thankfully devoid of any incident, Adam would suffer a spin after contact with another car just six minutes of racing (again not seen on camera) and that would drop him down from his then P16 down to last on track.

With the Aston’s appearing a bit ‘sluggish’ compared to others, that and the tight racing line make it tight for the two Garage 59 cars to progress much before the mandatory stops. The #159 car was first to come in with Kjaergaard handing over to Tujula from P18 whilst Adam waited until the last possible moment of the window to hand over to West from a (then) P4 position.

By the time of the chequered flag, the #159 had lifted itself up to P15 overall and P8 in class to at least get some more points on the board whilst the #188 car would come home P21 overall but importantly P2 in class.

These results lift the #188 crew up to the top of the Pro-Am Championship after two rounds with just the Spa 24 test weekend interrupting the series run into the next round of the Sprint Cup at Misano at the beginning of July.

Photo credits – GTWCE / Garage 59

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