Crash Clears Way For Ecurie Ecosse Victory at Oulton Park


Avon Tyres British GT Championship (Credit: Will Belcher Photography)

A chaotic Avon Tyres British GT Championship weekend came to a suitable end as Alexander Sims and Marco Attard won the second 60-minute race at Oulton Park after a clash between the lead pair.

Following the mid-race driver change pitstops Attard was running third in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Sims started from pole. Ahead Mark Patterson was leading in the United Autosports’ Audi with Gary Eastwood chasing him down in the FF Corse Ferrari.

Slower traffic – specifically a GT4 Ginetta – forced Patterson to slow through the Shell hairpin, allowing Eastwood to easily complete the job of catching the Audi for the lead. Eastwood then began to mount a challenge for the lead, pulling alongside the Patterson on the way down the hill into Knickerbrook.

Under braking Eastwood searched down the outside for the lead but tagged the side of the Audi, both cars suffering damage, a frustrated Patterson coasting to a halt as Attard moved through into the lead having been 11 seconds behind the clash. However, with two bent and broken cars by the side of the track a safety car period was inevitable.

Patterson spoke to www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk after the race; “I’m close to this guy, but he wanted to get a little closer. I was probably better than him in three or four corners and he was better than me in three or four corners and it was nice close racing for P1 and P2. Then there was GT4 guy who wasn’t very considerate – most of them are – we both got through tidily but it gave him a chance to catch right up to me. Then coming out of Brittens going up the hill he immediately turned left.”

“I could have been a jerk and pushed him onto the grass but I stayed to the centre-right all the way down the hill and never made a move. This car breaks than any other on the grid so I get ready to brake but the car starts to dance around as I’m getting hit from the side. The next thing he just turns in and hits me and spins the car then he goes right into the rear wheel and breaks the hub and drivetrain, so there’s no more race left.”

On the restart three GT4 Ginettas gave Attard a buffer over Jon Minshaw in the #33 Trackspeed Porsche started by Phil Keen. Unsurprisingly Minshaw, who won the 2013 season opener with Keen, was quickly by the trio of back markers, then clear of Rembert Berg in the third placed M-Sport Bentley and able to start pressuring Attard for the victory.

“I was hoping that Alexander was going to get a hell of a lead first but he didn’t on two count, the first because of the safety car but also Jonny was keeping him honest and doing a really good job,” Attard said. “The safety car didn’t go our way by we had a bit of luck. After the safety car we got a bit of a lead and took it nice and easy with Jon Minshaw catching up we had a bit longer but I didn’t push it. It all came good in the end and after this morning with the gearbox exploding like that we deserve this one.”

He came close, finishing less than half a second in arrears to the race winner. Berg lost time with an off with just two laps to go, tumbling down the order and handing Andrew Howard third place, though he was chased over the line by Phil Dryburgh – enjoying one of his best showings in British GT aboard the PGF-Kinfaun Aston– and Derek Johnston, who took fifth for he and Triple Eight Race Engineering teammate Luke Hines.

Pasin Lathouras and Richard Lyons combined for sixth place in their AF Corse Ferrari. Race one winners Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine finished seventh with MP Motorsport, Generation Bentley Racing and CWS 4×4 Spares teams completing the top ten, the latter pair each promoted a place after the Strata21 Nissan was given a post-race 30 second penalty after finishing ninth on track.

At the start of the race Alexander Sims put the Ecurie Ecosse into the lead with Jonny Adam second. Starting fourth Steven Kane overcame Aaron Scott for third in the M-Sport Bentley before beginning the process of catching the lead pair to make the developing battle for the lead a three way affair. He halved the gap between he and Adam from 2.7 seconds before the remainder of the job was done by the appearance of the Safety Car after Tom Oliphant crashed his Century Motorsport Ginetta on the exit of Old Hall.

The safety car came in just as the pit window opened, Richard Abra the first driver to dive into the pits in the MP Motorsport Aston with Mark Poole ready to take over.

Matt Bell in the UA Audi and FF Corse’s Rob Barff followed him in and as other teams made their stops in subsequent laps with the rest of the field at full racing speed the trio rose to the lead of the race. As Sims was driver who remained out until the last possible lap within the ten minute pit window Poole ran as the best of those who had pitted only to be handed a ten second penalty that would drop him down the order.

John Dhillon, in the AF Corse car Aaron Scott had piloted from the start, was another to cop a ten second penalty, though that pushed the duo all the way down to 18th in the finishing order.

TF Sport, Oulton Park (Credit: Will Belcher Photography)
Andrew Jarman grabbed the GT4 lead after the second safety car (Credit: Will Belcher Photography)

Gavan Kershaw had led GT4 from the drop of the green flag in ISSY Racing’s Lotus Evora. However, while he led from Dan Cammish throughout the opening stint the teams’ split their strategies just as the GT3 squads did.

Thus Matt Nicoll-Jones, Matt Draper and Aleksander Schjerpen all pitted at the first available opportunity, Schjerpen handing over to Morten Dons in the lone Century entry remaining in the race after Oliphant’s off. It was the Dane who became the class leader as the pitstops were completed but with Andrew Jarman closing him down in the TF Sport Aston Martin started by Devon Modell.

The second period behind the Safety Car – that caused by Eastwood and Patterson’s crash – gave Jarman a gilt edged chance to take the lead, which he duly took passing Dons at Old Hall seconds after the restart.

Dons held onto second in, ahead of Oz Yusef in the ISSY Lotus with the Beechdean AMR Aston in fourth, the race one winners recovering from a suspected electrical issue on the formation lap that forced driver Jake Giddings to reset the car, losing ten seconds to the rest of the pack before they even reached the green flag.