Beechdean AMR bounce back from Friday drama for Paul Ricard points
Beechdean AMR showed remarkable tenacity and teamwork to record a double-points finish on an incredibly tough Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup weekend at Circuit Paul Ricard in France.
The British team looked likely to see its effort reduced to a single-car effort following a high-speed accident for its #95 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 on Friday, but incredible work by its mechanics, allied to the determination of its drivers ensured its best finishes of the season in both the Pro and Gold Cups.
The fightback was on after Aston Martin works driver Marco Sorensen suffered a heavy impact with the safety barriers at the 160mph Signes corner in free practice on Friday afternoon.
While the Dane climbed out of the damaged car unaided, he was instructed to visit a local hospital for assessment, placing his participation in the rest of the weekend in doubt.
Thankfully he was given a clean bill of health, and with the Beechdean AMR crew working until 5am on Saturday morning to repair the Vantage GT3, Marco and co-drivers Nicki Thiim and Maxime Martin were ready to take part in qualifying.
Tenth on the overall grid and ninth in the Pro Cup was the result, and Nicki then demonstrated the car’s capabilities by climbing to fourth overall by the end of his double-stint, which began the 1000km race.
Marco was next behind the wheel; ending his run eighth overall, while Maxime’s final stint - which was curtailed by two full-course caution periods at slow speed - concluded the race. The trio finished 10th in Pro to collect their first points of the season and 13th overall.
Things were more straightforward for the #97 car, which competes in the Gold Cup, where line-ups must include one gold, one silver and one bronze-ranked driver.
Home heroes Valentin Hasse-Clot and Theo Nouet combined with Team Principal Andrew Howard to qualify 12th in class and 50th overall, but works driver Valentin showed the speed of the Vantage by climbing to 24th outright and fourth in Gold by the end of the opening hour.
As the race began to stabilise, #97’s running position fluctuated as rival teams fielded their differently-graded drivers across a wide range of strategies, while a quick spin for Andrew and a 15-second penalty for too-short a pitstop in the third hour cost the car time.
Installed in the car for the final stint in 38th place, Valentin pumped in a number of strong laps to make up six place for a final result of 32nd overall and eighth in Gold.
crews will attempt to improve on their championship positions further when the series resumes for its most gruelling race, the 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium on July 28-31.
Andrew Howard, Team Principal, said: “I’ve never seen spirit and professionalism like I’ve experienced this weekend in all my years in motorsport. After the crash on Friday it looked like it was going to take a miracle to repair the car, while we were all pretty worried about the effects on Marco while he was in hospital too. We had about 20 separate options for how the weekend would or could pan out from there based on whatever situation we had, but the Beechdean AMR team were just incredible to identify where the main areas of damage were and then set to work fixing them, and Marco was pretty amazing too to just put it to the back of his mind and to the job. The drivers all did exactly what was asked of them in pretty tough circumstances. After what happened on Friday, getting both cars to the flag and scoring points in the two classes was the target and we did, at least, achieve this, even if the final results were short of what we wanted.”