Extra-ordinary scenes at Donington leaving Beechdean with a podium and Newbridge with a repair bill

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The British GT Championship travelled north this weekend for its third round of the season from Donington Park, but their entry list again just comprised of two solitary Aston Martin Racing cars in each of the two available GT3 and GT4 classes.

Having held private testing at the circuit on Friday before more formally timed Free Practice and Qualifying sessions on Saturday, it was again the #27 Newbridge Motorsport AMR Vantage GT4 of Matt Topham and a substituting Darren Burke in for the Goodwood Festival of Speed busy Darren Turner who again stole the headlines by collectively qualifying their car on GT4 pole position ahead of Sunday’s two-hour race as they looked to follow on from their class win at the Silverstone 500 last time out.

The #7 Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam would again speak of their car not quite performing just who they would otherwise expect it too, but none the less, they were still able to slot the car in eighth for the race.

As a sultry 20-degree ambient temperature welcomed the twenty three cars to the grid with all keeping one eye aloft just in case the warm, dry track surface would ever turn a bit wet how little did we know of what was about to take place as what happened next was quite frankly remarkable for sadly all the wrong reasons. 

With ten GT3 cars thundering into turn 1 at Redgates, there is always the possibility of contact – and there was as the second placed WPI Lamborghini got tapped around only for the #63 Barwell Lamborghini to slam unsighted into the #18’s rear quarter putting both cars out of the race with substantial damage.

Even before the race had had a chance to go back to green from that incident, unseen contact involving the #27 Newbridge AMR of Topham as the cars suddenly concertinaed behind the Safety Car rippled through the chasing GT4 field in an incident that would remove three other GT4’s from the days proceedings. Thankfully, nobody appeared to be injured but several cars (including the #27) were left at safe positions around the track as the race finally went back to green – but with seven cars less than what the Championship race had started with!!

With the early loss of two GT3 Pro-Am Championship leading cars, that left the door wide open for those remaining to ‘make hay’ and soon dairy farmer Howard was pushing his #7 car up to P5 as the race finally settled. He would leave his best moment of the race till just before his pit stop when he made the most of the #11 Paddock Motorsport Bentley GT3 ‘reluctance’ in handling the final corner in any state of optimum performance to push that car wide onto the start straight before undercutting the defending #11 going through Redgates for P4.

Having waited for their allotted pit stop window, it was now Jonny Adams turn to see how far he could get the #7 car up the timing screen, but it didn’t look easy for him at all through the corners as well (the team did suggest traction control issues) that allowed the #77 McLaren to again pressurise the car for position.

Having also leapfrogged the #1 Barwell Lamborghini due to their additional time penalty at their stop it was now a battle for the final step of the GT3 podium for Adam and his now obviously struggling Beechdean AMR leaving the AMR factory driver nearly half an hour to defend his position from now two obviously faster cars immediately behind.

With the final minutes ticking by and with Adam still under immense pressure from the #77 and #1 cars behind, his own track limits warning from Race Control just added to the cauldron inside that Vantage but survive he did to bring home the #7 car P3 overall and P2 in GT3 Pro-Am.

By the end of that two-hour race only twelve cars finished but despite that and by our reckoning, that provisional result takes Howard and Adam up to co-lead of the overall title table and second in GT3 Pro-Am as the Championship looks to Spa Francorchamps in two week’s time!!

And a hearty well done to Team ABBA Racing too - from a broken car on Saturday to a race winning car on Sunday!!!

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey

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