Despite early promise, bad luck and untimely judgement blights Beechdean's return to the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup

Sunday, April 03, 2022

The event had started so well for the team but the later race pressures on both the team and equipment proved to be Beechdean AMR’s unfortunate downfall in the opening race of the 2022 GT world Challenge Europe Endurance Cup from Imola today.

Having Qualified their two Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT3’s in P8 in each of their Pro and Gold Cup classes earlier today, the team was in buoyant mood of a favourable finish for one or both of their cars by the end of the opening three-hour race.

It certainly started that way as Nicki Thiim guided his #95 car up to P6 by the end of the opening lap and then further up to P5 upon the restart following a Safety Car period to clear the debris from an earlier lap 1 incident at the final corner.

Team boss Andrew Howard started the race with his #97 Gold Cup entered car, again from P8 in class and held onto that position for the duration of his first hour stint to hand his GT3 over to his latest team recruit in former GT4 European Series Champion Theo Nouet.

By the team that Thiim needed to pit, he had now claimed fourth overall as he handed the #95 car over to fellow Dane Train member Marco Sorenson who immediately went about tracking down the Audi ahead in third for track position. That took him about twenty minutes of his drive time to do that and by the midway point of the race, the #95 Pro car was up to a comfortable second overall and was ‘flying’.

About the same time, disaster was to strike the #97 car as the TV cameras picked up a slowing car at the lowest sections of the circuit. Without any drive to the wheels courtesy of an apparent gearbox related issue, Nouet was forced to park the #97 at the side of the circuit and retire from P7 in class and indeed the race bringing out another FCY in the process. That meant that Valentin Hasse-Clot would not get a drive this time around.

Just as the circuit had been cleared of the Aston Martin and the race about to go back to green, a huge accident involving the sole Bentley and a Lamborghini elongated the Safety car period as a sizeable debris field now needed clearing. With drivers involved otherwise OK from any immediate harm, nearly forty minutes of the race would be lost to the clear up operation with the #95 car becoming a victim of their own circumstance during that time.

With that Safety Car period overlapping the final pit stop period, most of the frontrunners pitted as soon as they could but Beechdean elected to keep Sorenson out for another lap – probably due to the tight and ultra-busy pit lane at the Imola circuit but by the time that the #95 had pitted (from the race lead by then) Maxime Martin would emerge back onto the circuit in a lowly P19 overall/P12 in class.

Going green, back to FCY and then green again with just forty-four minutes remaining, it would be an exercise of damage limitation only for the Belgian driver as he slowly eked the #95 back up to P12 overall by the fall of the chequered flag.

Disappointment all around we are sure as a probably podium contention was lost to one, arguably understandable but wrong pit call during that Safety Car period. The cars at least proved fast and contestable on the grounds of BoP so there is still hope for the remainder of the Endurance Cup season that next takes place at Paul Ricard, France in early June where the openness of the Le Castellet circuit will allow the cars to stretch their legs and flow around the Mistral circuit.

Photo credits – GTWCE / Team 

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