REPORT - British GT Round 9
The #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin finished today’s dramatic British GT finale in fifth position in the hands of Beechdean boss Andrew Howard and Aston Martin factory driver, Darren Turner. The race at Donington Park marked the British GT swansong for the V12 Vantage GT3, which has become the most successful car in the history of the GT3 category.
After Turner topped the timesheets in the final free practice session on Saturday, the team were hopeful of a top grid position for Sunday’s race. Howard took to the track first and posted a very respectable time that gave him fifth place before handing the #99 Aston Martin over to Turner. That’s where the good news ended as a broken exhaust scuppered Turner’s run, meaning they would line up in eighth place on the grid.
Howard was at the wheel for the start of the two-hour race and he made a clean getaway, maintaining his grid position. With championships up for grabs the ‘Donington Decider’ was expected to be an action-packed race and it didn’t disappoint.
“It quickly became apparent that one of the cars ahead appeared to be running at a slower pace than its sister car, which bunched us all up and made for some, shall we say ‘interesting’ driving,” explained Howard.
As the cars tripped over one another Howard dropped to 11thbut he steadily made his way back up the order to eighth before coming across the Nissan GT-R of Chris Buncombe. Further contact dropped him back to 10th but again, he recovered, gaining a position, before pitting at the halfway mark to hand over to Turner.
“The Nissan was very quick on the straights but not as quick through the corners. It was being very well driven by a professional driver who didn’t leave me any gaps,” said Howard. “We went either side of a slower car going up to Turn 8, then I saw a gap and went for it after being patient for so long! He didn’t see me and turned in, which turned us both around.”
Turner joined the race in ninth place and went straight into battle with a group of cars. He started to work his way through the field and was right up to fifth place before being handed a drive-through penalty for track limits warnings, which are totted up from the start of the race. He re-joined in eighth place.
“While the group up ahead were fighting each other and I had clear track ahead of me I got onto the back of them quite quickly,” said Turner. “I managed to get past the Nissan and then came across the Bentley of Ryan Ratcliffe and the Lamborghini of Jonny Cocker and we all tripped over one another at the last turn! I managed to then find a way past into Turn 1 so that took us all the way back up the order.”
Turner took the chequered flag in fifth position, finishing a tough but hugely enjoyable season in British GT for Beechdean AMR.
“It has been great to be back in British GT this year, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Howard. “I’ve raced with Darren for a few years now and it’s great to compete alongside like-minded people who race hard but do it with a smile on their face. Now we will go away and reflect, then decide what we will do next.”