Rounding off last weekends AMR customer action

Monday, September 13, 2021


There’s just about enough time to shoehorn in the remaining Aston Martin Racing Partner and Customer racing action from last weekend before we have to embark on an equally hectic schedule ahead of this weekends action from around the world.

Up in Cheshire, the British GT Championship held their penultimate round of their 2021 season at the picturesque Oulton Park circuit. A meeting that had two one-hour races slotted into its non-conventional September date but two races non the less that could make or indeed break anyone’s Championship aspirations even before they get to the final round at Donington Park next month.

Qualifying had already gone badly wrong for the #7 Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam as the team boss had already had a heavy altercation with the Armco crash barrier during his final flying lap of Q1. Such was the damage that Adam couldn’t even go and set a time and their team of trusted mechanics and engineers worked tirelessly overnight to swap out the damaged front section of theirs with surrogate one that Prodrive had shipped up to the circuit that night.

On the flip side of that, the #27 Newbridge Motorsport AMR Vantage GT4 crew of Matt Topham and Darren Turner had had an awesome Qualifying, placing their car on GT4 pole position for both races.

Whilst the weather remained settled over the course of the opening race, a half-rebuilt car proved itself to be something of a ‘dog’ for Howard and Adam to drive after only a ten-minute warm up to iron out any issues aboard their somewhat dishevelled car for them to finish P9 overall and P7 in their Pro-Am Class.

The #27 meanwhile was flying high with a confident Topham opening the race followed up with the reliable hands of multiple Le Mans winner and AMR Factory driver Turner. They would go on to take another overall GT4 class win (and Pro-Am Class) win to add to their already Championship leading tally.

Then came the rain!!!!

For the #7 Beechdean crew it made no difference as they would be starting from the rear of the GT3 pack anyway and co-incidentally, just one space ahead of the #27 Newbridge car at the head of the GT4 pack.

The constant rain meant for two warm up laps before the grid was eventually let go to racing and into the wall of spray and water vapour thundered the twenty-four cars. Miraculously there were no incidents of note with a remarkable upturn in driving standards compared to some earlier rounds of the season.

This time with (also) multiple Le Mans winner and AMR factory driver Adam behind the wheel, the #7 car continued along within its seemingly underwhelming performance window, something that had become visible over many rounds now and would certainly not give them the power to recover from their situation like it did for one of their class contending Mercedes AMG GT3 runners after a drive through penalty!!

For the Newbridge car, the rain had also appeared to have washed away some of that car’s performance with Turner playing a waiting game in third whilst the Silver Cup runners dashed about around him – waiting for a Safety Car period that was almost inevitable.

Swapping over to Topham, he came out to the rear of the GT4 train and that gave him the opportunity to move forward should he felt brave enough to do do in the still dreadful track conditions. Placing certain points before potential risk, Topham eventually came home P3 in the Pro-Am class – a result that cut their points lead to 14.5 points from the #40 Fox McLaren going into Donington Park finale.

It was what it was but for some – there will still be a #DoningtonDecider!

The final race of the weekend was the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship for Laguna Seca in California. This time we had two AMR Vantage GTD’s from the Herat of Racing team to watch as Alex Riberas came back to the States after a year out in New Zealand to join Team Principal Ian James aboard their #27 car but the stars of the team were of course the then Sprint Cup leading GTD crew of Roman De Angelis and Ross Gunn in their #23 car.

Qualifying for the #23 was good – to a point when Gunn was pinged for a Qualifying technicality specific to IMSA that dropped them down from their P3 slot to the rear of the grid and just behind their sister car.

For the debut of the #27 car, things were very short lived as a wheel of the track and onto the dust spun the car into the path of an oncoming Acura GTD with an impact that would consign both cars to behind the wall and eventual retirement from the race.

The race wasn’t kind to the #23 car either as De Angelis was spun around in the early stages of his recovery drive. From that point on, Laguna Seca became very much a case of damage limitation as the leaders were now so far ahead and P5 was the best that they could do on the day.

With the series on its way to Long Beach for their second west coast round of the year, things are tightening up at the top of GTD with just Virginia International Raceway to come in Sprint after Long Beach and then Road Atlanta as well in the Endurance series

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey / Team / CSJ Motorsport / F Lagunas

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