REPORT - British GT Rounds 4 & 5
For the third race meeting in succession, the Beechdean AMR team has taken a podium finish. Andrew Howard and Darren Turner raced the #99 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to a hard-earned second place in this afternoon’s one-hour sprint race at Snetterton, after being forced out of contention in this morning’s race.
Howard was behind the wheel of the #99 Aston Martin for the start of the first race at Snetterton. He made a clean start from fifth on the grid but was soon attacked by a Nissan GT-R and another Aston Martin, dropping him to seventh. Not happy with that scenario he fought back and quickly moved back up a place. Unfortunately for Howard, just a few laps later he received contact from the #75 Aston Martin, which caused a puncture. The #75 car was penalised after the race but for Howard it meant an early pit stop, way before the pit window opened.
He rejoined the race before handing over to Aston Martin Racing works driver, Darren Turner, who was quickly on the pace of the front runners but too far back to make a difference, finishing the race in 11thplace, just outside the points. A top finish in Race 2 would be more important than ever.
Turner started Race 2 from fourth place on the grid and it was a very clean start from the pro runners, all circulating in their grid positions. Before anyone could start to look for a way by, the Safety Car came out and stayed out for the first 10 minutes of the race. When the action resumed it was the #11 Aston Martin in the lead, followed by the #17 Aston Martin, #33 Lamborghini, then the #99 Aston Martin.
The cars in first and third place both had to serve time penalties in the pit stops so, when it was time for Turner to pit, the Beechdean AMR crew leapt into action to make sure Howard joined the race as quickly as possible.
With all of the pit stops completed, Howard was running in second place, hunting down the #17 Aston Martin of Derek Johnston.
“Having had a fairly tough weekend up until that point my heart sank a little when I pulled out and saw who I was going to have to fight,” said Howard. “Derek is a strong competitor but the fantastic thing is that the team gave me a car that I could catch him in and we had one of the best scraps I’ve had for years! The key thing is that we both finished the race as we’re in this for the championship. There’s no way I was going to make a lunge and risk ruining both of our races and Derek just didn't crack under pressure so credit to him.”
Howard chased Johnston all the way to the line, finishing the race nose-to-bumper, taking second place and the 18 championship points that come with the silverware.
“I’m very happy with the result,” said Howard. “The reality is that it’s better than we thought we were going to do after Race 1. Thanks to the team and to Darren for giving me the platform to do it from.”
“I enjoyed the opening stint,” said Turner. “I nearly lost out at Turn 1 but managed to hold on. Once we got through the Safety Car period it was important to get my head down and the top four cars started to pull away from the pack with the gap between us ebbing and flowing with traffic. When Andrew jumped in he had a fantastic run that was brilliant to watch. He did what he had to do and tried every trick in the book to get past Derek. Both drivers raced hard but fair and that’s always good to watch. I’m really happy we got another podium and hope we can keep this momentum going when we race at Silverstone in two weeks.”