REPORT - British GT Round 8
The Beechdean AMR duo of Andrew Howard and Darren Turner finished Sunday’s British GT event at Brands Hatch in fourth place after two hours of racing in scorching hot conditions.
The #99 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 qualified on the front row of the grid after Howard and Turner demonstrated the performance improvements the team has made in recent weeks.
Howard’s brilliant second place in the Am class session was backed up by a lovely lap from Aston Martin Racing works driver, Darren Turner, putting the pair in second place on aggregate.
As for all two-hour British GT races, the amateur class driver takes the start so it was Howard who lined up on the sweltering grid on Sunday afternoon. The Beechdean boss made a good start and held onto second during the tussle of the opening lap and didn’t get a breather until the Safety Car came out after 30 minutes of racing.
At the restart he slipped to third but before he could do anything about that the Safety Car came out again due to an accident on the start/finish line. This sent all the cars through the pit lane each lap while it was cleared up, then almost as soon as the race resumed it reached the halfway mark so Howard pitted to hand over to Turner.
“It was great to start from the front row today,” said Howard. “I managed to make a clean getaway and really enjoyed the three-way tussle that the race developed into. It was good, fair racing and credit to (Graham) Davidson for getting the jump on me at the restart. I think the conditions today were the hottest I have ever experienced in a racing car so the Safety Car came as a welcome relief!”
Turner joined the race in third place, right in the middle of a huge GT3 battle. He had Phil Keen’s Lamborghini riding his bumper, who in turn was being hunted down by Nicki Thiim’s Aston Martin and Yelmer Buurman’s Mercedes.
With 19 minutes to go Keen retired after hitting some debris that Turner had managed to jink to avoid. The threat from Thiim continued though and despite Turner making the Beechdean Aston Martin as wide as possible, the Dane got through to steal the last podium position with just six minutes to go! Kudos to Turner who was also dealing with low oil pressure alarms at the same time!
“I knew it was going to be a hard, aggressive stint,” said Turner. “Once the Safety Car bunches everyone up like that you know it’s going to be close. It was brutally hot out there and when I got the oil pressure alarm I lost a bit of momentum trying to work out if I needed to switch the car off or not. I’m disappointed to miss out on the podium, of course, but I tried every trick in the book to hold onto third today.”
“We’re a competitive team so we all wanted that podium place,” said Howard. “Darren did the right thing though and respected the oil alarm. The key thing today is that we have made a large step in the right direction. We went the wrong way at Silverstone but we have worked through it and made good progress. We are definitely a team on the ‘up’!”