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Beechdean AMR set Fastest Lap as British GT season kicks off on Easter Monday

Beechdean AMR, with a new line-up featuring Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team Ambassador Jessica Hawkins, began the 2024 British GT Championship with a pair of top-six finishes at Oulton Park on Easter Monday.

 



But there was also a landmark result for the High Wycombe team as Hawkins’ co-driver Andrew Howard set the first Fastest Lap in the series for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which made its British GT debut at the event.

 

That accolade, which also netted Andrew the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Weekend Award, came in an afternoon race that began in tricky wet conditions.

 

Poole racer Jessica, making her maiden GT race start aboard the Vantage, ran solidly after qualifying fourth in the Silver-Am class to reach the mandatory driver changes inside the top six.

 



With conditions improving enough to make a switch from wet-weather tyres to slick rubber a formality, Team Principal Andrew – himself a two-time British GT champion, was instantly on the pace as he set the fastest lap of the race once his tyres were up to working temperature.

 

That achievement took a large chunk out of his deficit to the cars ahead and helped him leapfrog one of his key rivals for fifth in class.

 

However, an incident moments later for another car led to the remaining 25 minutes of the hour-long race being run under slow ‘Full-Course Yellow’ conditions with overtaking not allowed and any further progress stymied. Fifth place was the result.

 



Jessica had earlier battled hard in wet and gloomy conditions to sixth in the opening race. Andrew had earlier pulled the #97 Aston Martin as high as third before another ‘FCY’ period affected the order during the mid-race driver changes.

 

The duo, who hold fifth in the Silver-Am points with one of seven rounds completed, aim to improve on their results when the series continues at the Silverstone 500, the longest event on the calendar, on April 27-28.

 



Jessica Hawkins said: “I feel like everything’s been thrown at us this weekend. We’ve done what we came here to do, which was to get two points-scoring finishes, keep it on the circuit and learn all we can. I’ve enjoyed it and learnt an awful lot. We’ve hit our objectives and more importantly we know what we need to work on going forwards. My first weekend racing the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 was all about managing my own expectations, but the weekend’s been solid. Learning things like the pitstop procedures, the rollin starts, how a track and car evolve when conditions are changing… We dealt with those things just fine, but it’ll take time to become second nature. I have to say a huge thank you to all the fans who came along, despite the typically English weather. The level of support was huge and enthusiastic and It’s brilliant to experience.”

 

Andrew Howard, Team Principal and Driver, said: “We targeted Silver-Am points in both races and that’s what we achieved. Jessica has so little experience of the GT3 car so we focused on helping her get up to speed. People underestimate the sheer brutality of the learning curve with a GT car and to make your debut at Oulton Park in the wet is about as tough as it gets. She’s done a brilliant job. Getting the Sunoco Fastest Lap Award was unexpected and I’m not sure if an Am driver has ever won it before. Our Race Engineer always says I don’t warm the tyres up enough at the start of a stint, so I made sure to do it this time and managed to nail the best lap on slicks on a drying track just before the Full-Course Yellow. Thank you Elliot; you were right.”

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