At the end of a testing year JMW Motorsport finished third at their home round of the Le Mans Series at Silverstone, ending their season with their best result of the year.
Jim McWhirter's Essex-based team were in commanding from throughout the weekend, running well in all three of the free practice sessions before Rob Bell took a surprise LMGT2 pole position for the team – the first such honour for the Aston Martin Vantage V8 in the LMS.
Bell, along with teammate Darren Turner, led the class for a majority of the event. Free of the mechanical frailties that have dampened their first season with the Vantage the pair only briefly losing the lead during cycles of pitstops or when mired in heavy traffic around the 5.89km track.
As the race entered its final chapter the Dunlop-shod Aston held a lead over the no.96 AF Corse Ferrari and Prospeed Competition Porsche, both of which the team had fought with through much of the race. The one final hurdle was that fuel consumption had left the team needing a final 'splash 'n' dash' pitstop in order to make the end of the 170 lap, a stop which could take them out of the lead.
However, it was to a late penalty – one of many handed out by stewards for not respecting the track limits – that cost them the lead. The stop-go penalty pushed the team down to second, the Ferrari squad inheriting the lead before the quick pitstop proved enough to drop them behind the Porsche, into third.
But, despite the disappointment of losing the race in such circumstances, their third place was a physical manifestation of the progress the team have made with the car and a deserved reward for the work put in over the year.
“The team were confident that we could give a good account of ourselves after Algarve and Hungary,” said McWhirter. “But pole was a real pleasure and brought huge smiles on everyone's faces in the garage. The car was prepared perfectly, in fact it looked like a new car. Rob and Darren were relaxed and confident all through the sessions and our Dunlop tyres performed beautifully. We were in the mix the whole race and were the only threat to the Ferraris – a mistaken call for a stop and go robbed us of a secure second place and without a splash and dash it would have been a close call for the win.”
“This was without doubt one of the best weekends I have had since starting in GT racing.”