REPORT - British GT Round 7
Round 7 of the British GT Championship was over almost as soon as it had begun for the Beechdean AMR team on Sunday. As the field roared through Eau Rouge on the opening lap of the two-hour race at Spa-Franchorchamps, team boss Andrew Howard had unavoidable contact after cars collided ahead of him and the #99 Aston Martin ultimately had to be retired from the race.
Both Howard and his team mate, Aston Martin Racing works driver Darren Turner, noted that the performance of their Vantage GT3 had improved dramatically during the free practice sessions and Howard actually did his fastest ever lap around the rollercoaster-like Spa track during Qualifying on Saturday.
“That was my best ever lap around Spa,” he said. “The standard in British GT is so high though and the other Aston runners have tested here recently so it wasn’t quite enough.”
“I was actually surprised with the grid position in Qualifying as the car felt faster than that,” added Turner, as the pair took ninth place on aggregate. “My feeling is that we ended up with a car with good race pace but no one-lap magic for Qualifying.”
Howard completed the 10-minute Warm Up session on Sunday morning and reported that the car felt good so both drivers were looking forward to having a strong race.
After making a good start, Howard did the run down into Eau Rouge and that’s where it all went wrong.
“There was unfortunately far too much contact going on at the start of that race,” said Howard. “This continued once we were out too and it’s unnecessary. Something happened ahead of me and in avoiding one collision I made contact with a Lamborghini, which broke my radiator hose.”
The Beechdean team boss managed to carefully get around a full lap and into the pits without overheating the engine and the team set about fixing the car.
It was repaired and ready to go 16 laps later so Howard jumped in to re-join the race. Meanwhile the team did the calculations to see if they could salvage any championship points. With it being only a two-hour race, the car would be unable to complete the 70% race distance required to be eligible for points so the decision was taken to pull the car in.
“We retired the car for practical reasons,’ said Howard. “But also to make sure we didn’t get involved in other people’s battles.
“In summary though we’re pleased that the performance of the car was much improved this weekend and we can’t wait to show that when we get to Brands Hatch in two weeks’ time.”