Ecurie Ecosse Top Practice Through Rain and Reds


The championship leading Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 was fastest in a weather and red flag affected second free practice session for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park.

Pro-driver Alexander Sims took the #1 car out to start the 50 minute session, setting a 1:29.618 around the 2.5 track before pitting for reigning champ Marco Attard to take over behind the wheel of the car. Several teams were working on similar programs early in the session. Matt Bell took the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin out of the garage for the early laps, Jon Barnes was among the fastest aboard 22GT Racing’s Aston Martin and Joe Osborne held the top spot in the session early for the Triple Eight team, the last for the four crews capable of lifting the title this weekend, lying 32.5 points away from the leaders with a maximum of 37.5 available for the race winners of the two hour season finale.

With the early flying laps finished with Sims, leading Osborne and Barnes’ bests it was to be over to the less experienced halves of the driver line-ups. However, it was then that heavens opened over Donington, the weather forcing most teams to lengthen their stays in the pits while they – at best – fitted wet Avons or simply waited for the worst of the weather to clear.

With a half hour remaining cars began to filter back out on the track, but inevitably the change in conditions was to catch some out with Richard Taffinder’s Stratton Motorsport Lotus Evora ending up in the gravel on the outside of McLeans. The red flag halted proceedings and the rain relented, with most teams heading back out onto the track once the green flag was displayed once more. It was, however, then quickly replaced by the red flag after Oz Yusuf and Jamie Stanley both found a way into the same gravel bed as Taffinder nine minutes earlier in the ISSY Racing Lotus and the Fox Motorsport Ginetta respectively .

The session restarted with 15 minutes remaining but with the track wet enough to prevent any improvement in lap times, the best times in the 1:43 bracket coming in the final minutes of the session.

Thus Sims’ lap led those of Osborne, Barnes and Bell. Euan Hankey was fifth fastest in the #12 VonRyan Racing 650S he shares with Salih Yuloc. Ahmad Al Harthy was sixth fastest in the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin he shares with Alex MacDowell this weekend. The sister car of Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher, who lie third in the championship was seventh fastest with a 1:31.579.

Last of the four championship contenders in the session was the Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3. The Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam driven car – the pair starting the weekend just two points behind Sims and Attard – was tenth fastest behind the Rosso Verde and the second VonRyan McLaren.

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Dennis Stradberg made the most of the conditions before the rains came mid-session (Credit: The Image Team/Nick Smith)

Dennis Strandberg was the fastest man in GT4, setting a 1:38.144 just before the rain arrived in the Academy Motorsport Aston he shares with Will Moore. Luke Davenport was second quickest in the class in the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta.

Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn, the Beechdean AMR duo already confirmed as GT4 champions, were seventh quickest.

Qualifying for the final round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship is scheduled to begin at 3:30pm. www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have a report online for the session, with live blog coverage for the race, which starts 1pm on Sunday.