British GT Championship's remaining titles still finally balanced after today's sessions

Saturday, October 16, 2021

The final round of the 2021 British GT Championship from Donington Park is again living up to its affectionately adopted hashtag with today’s first formal sessions of the finale throwing up some issues for the Aston Martin Racing crews and in fact most to contend with.

Mid October and the twenty-six crews were presented with a dry track, little chance of rain during the day but a tad chilly to start with for some! Teams had already been at the circuit on Thursday for some private testing and with conditions similar again to today, there was not much need for anyone to go ‘off piste’ on set up.

Speaking with someone at Beechdean, we asked about this performance issue that had apparently blighted the #7 Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam for much of the season. Whilst we don’t think that a clear answer was necessarily given, a predicted gap of at about a second was predicted for later!

Beechdean (specifically Andrew Howard) are one of the two AMR teams in the hunt for the remaining GT3 and GT4 Pro-Am Drivers Championship title hunt left as yet unclaimed going into this finale – the other being the #27 Newbridge Motorsport AMR Vantage GT4 of Matt Topham and Darren Turner. Whereas the #27 AMR GT4 arrived at the Leicestershire circuit with a points advantage of a dozen or so, the #7 team would need something nearing a minor miracle – basically to win and have all those ahead of them in the Championship to fail to score. 

Free Practice 1 this morning appeared to go reasonably well for the three AMR teams including the British GT debut for David Holloway and his Century Motorsport prepared AMR GT4 that he will share with his 2021 GT Cup co-driver Bradley Ellis. Despite going faster than they did on Thursday, the #7 Beechdean found themselves again at the foot of the class table as both the AMR GT4’s also went faster than Thursday for the #71 Century car to claim the higher spot than the #27 Newbridge car.

During Free Practice 2 the first problem arose for the Newbridge team as Turner made an uncharacteristic error of judgement to outbreak himself into the rear of the Paddock Motorsport Bentley GT3 – consigning each to their garages for repairs and missing the remainder of FP2 to boot.

With still a couple of hours till Qualifying, the repair work did look well within the capabilities of the Newbridge Team but obviously that incident perhaps dented more than the front of their Aston as memories of their last visit to Donington Park earlier in the year came back to bear.

Then came the four Qualifying sessions with the GT3 Am drivers starting it off but were soon back in pit lane as the GT3 Championship leading Lamborghini managed to spin out and get stuck in the gravel causing a red flag! With the session soon getting back under way, the #7 Beechdean car would eventually finish P9 overall with their separate times both about 0.8 to 1.0 second slower (see above) than those of the pace setting WPI Motorsport Lamborghini.

GT4’s were out next with Topham and Holloway piloting their respective Aston around first before Turner and Ellis took each car to the completion of the session. With the class generously filled with plenty of Silver/Silver crews, the Pro-Am entered Aston’s were always going to be lower down the order with the #27 eventually taking P6 overall and second in class – just behind the leading Pro-Am Toyota but more importantly with their nearest Championship challengers also facing problems of their own and only Qualifying towards the rear of the grid.

As with any race, where you start is not necessarily the important bit as its always who crosses the line first wins. Whereas the Beechdean crew are being pretty much matter of fact about their chances this weekend, the Newbridge crew do have every chance and are being privately – mildly confident with the package that they have.

The final two hour race of the 2021 season starts at 13:00hrs local tomorrow!!

Looking forward to it!

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