Beechdean AMR suffer British GT setback in Portugal
Beechdean AMR suffered a challenging weekend as the Intelligent Money British GT Championship decamped to a baking hot Autodromo Nacional de Algarve in Portimao, Portugal.
A non-finish due to contact-induced damage to the #97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 ended what looked set to be a promising race for Andrew Howard and Nicki Thiim before half-distance and put a major dent in the team’s title hopes.
Danish ace Nicki – a Le Mans 24 Hours class winner and multiple FIA World Endurance Champion – was called in for the weekend to substitute for fellow Aston Martin works driver Ross Gunn, who was on duty in North America.
In his first appearance for the High Wycombe team since last year’s 24 Hours of Spa, Nicki set a strong pace in practice and qualifying and topped Sunday morning’s pre-race warm-up, meaning that from eighth on the grid, he and Andrew had high hopes of a podium finish.
Andrew made this look like an even greater possibility with a strong start to run sixth, but the Aston Martin was twice delayed through two safety-car periods during the opening hour as a result of procedural irregularities.
All this meant that Andrew was eighth and in fightback mode as racing resumed with just under two of the three hours left.
Unfortunately contact with another car just two laps later damaged the Vantage’s front suspension and led to an early retirement.
Just two rounds remain of the 2023 British GT Championship, the next taking place at Brands Hatch, Kent, on September 9-10.
Andrew Howard said: “It’s been a tough weekend for the team. They worked hard all weekend to give us a great race car, but unfortunately a mistake by myself meant the Aston Martin could not continue. To do well in British GT you have to be consistent and sadly this year I have not delivered at that level. A huge thanks to Nicki for joining us this weekend. It’s a shame we couldn’t unleash the ‘Dane Train’ at the end. For the last two rounds we need to keep up our momentum pace-wise and – as Nicki says – ‘Go hard or go home’.”
Nicki Thiim said: “If I had to pick any racetrack on the British GT calendar for a one-off, it would be Portimao. It’s a great track and I always have fun driving the Aston Martin here. We had good pace and were definitely in the mix. Unfortunately, in the heat of battle we had an incident and that was the end of our race. We had a good chance of the podium if the race had played out differently and I very much enjoyed working with the Beechdean AMR boys again.”