On the car's last scheduled outing with the team Aston Martin DBRS9 drivers Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard closed the Avon Tyres British GT Championship year with victory in the two hour race at Silverstone for Beechdean Motorsport.
Adam had – with the help of fresh tyres – put the car on pole position but, back on cold tyres Howard fell back on the opening lap crossing the line fifth while David Ashburn led the opening lap for Trackspeed. Howard said; “It just takes a couple of laps to get the tyres up to temperature on her and once they were up there it was fine. It's very difficult to watch the cars drive away at the start but when they came back we had the pace.”
Unfortunately for Ashburn – the outgoing champion on a weekend that would decide the destination of the 2011 title – his time at the front would be fleeting, Joe Osborne shuffling the Porsche driver back to second at Club, Charles Bateman pushing him back to third into Brooklands later in the lap.
Osborne – a former GT4 class champion in British GT – had been brought in by United Autosports for a one off appearance in the British competition, having been competing for the team this year in European competition but his combination with team co-owner Zak Brown brought him back to domestic running.
Eleven drivers had started the race with a chance of leaving with the title. Both Ashburn and Bateman started with theoretical chances of glory, but the main focus of the championship battle lay in sixth, seventh and eighth position.
There Michael Guasch led Duncan Cameron and Jim Geddie in a reverse of how the top three began the day in the points standings.
With those three almost in lock step – Cameron the most adventurous as he searched for a route around the no.23 Audi ahead – it allowed first David Jones in the Preci–Spark Mercedes SLS to work through them – moving from ninth to sixth in the course of just four laps. Julien Draper was able to pass Geddie and Guasch, Cameron having found a way past the American on the run to Becketts on lap 12.
“The start of the race it was obviously stay out of trouble,” Jim Geddie told TCF later “but once I got into a rhythm it was try and keep up with Cameron that was the focus for me to keep up with Cameron. The tyres lasted well, there were a couple of major incidents in the stint by I managed to stop before we actually hit them, I lost a bit of time but that could have been the end of the race.”
Guasch then lost another place in one of Geddie’s “major incidents“, spinning exiting Club. Though he avoided contact – either with the pit wall for the new pitlane or Jim Geddie behind – Guasch lost 13 seconds to the battle he had been part of previously.
Cameron was now charging up the order, the biggest threat to a Geddie title. Howard and Jones had already passed both the Trackspeed Porsches, Gregor Fisken having also overtaken his teammate Ashburn. Cameron then, on lap 19, forced his way up the inside of Ashburn under braking for Club to take sixth place, though Draper behind was caught out as he tried to brave the outside line around the corner to make his own pass on the Porsche man. Running wide on the grass-crete the no.20 Ferrari looped lazily around, directly in front of Jim Geddie.
Jim gave his view of the incident after the race; “he spun in front of me and I had to brake almost to a standstill, there was still contact on the door then I was able to go around him but by then the Porsche had pulled away. I was delighted with the way I was catching the Porsche because that's the first time this season we've been able to keep up with them.”
The result of the race if not the championship came down to a safety car period, brought out by Paul Whight's Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin at Vale, that fell during the pitstop window.
The neutral period also bunched the field back up, undoing most of Osborne's work from the opening stint and leaving co-driver Brown firmly in the sights of the faster drivers who had taken over a majority of the car behind.
Once the safety car pulled in – unnecessarily eating up twenty minutes of the race after Brown's leading Audi was mistakenly waved by the safety car – it took only five minutes of Adam to take the lead after restarting fourth, passing Brown at The Loop after already having overhauled Godfrey Jones and Michael Lyons.
The safety car, as Adam admitted after the race benefitted him, allowing him to warm the cold new tyres beyond the stage which has cost Howard earlier and once into the lead he pulled out the necessary gap, ultimately deciding the race but the title battle was raging behind.
Lyons and Matt Griffin, in the MTECH charge started by Cameron, were both taken out of title and race winning contention by penalties that dropped them to the bottom end of the top ten. Richard Westbrook, however, was threatening to take David Ashburn to a second successive title when he passed Zak Brown for second at Brooklands. A win for Ashburn with the Geddies off the podium would result in title retention and as Westbrook was pulling away in second place Glynn Geddie was fighting his own battle with a combative Brown.
That aggressive nature was most clearly on show when the two were side by side through The Loop and Aintree Corner. Brown eased Geddie wide exiting the left-hand hairpin and onto the Wellington Straight, the young Scot forcing his way back onto the track, the Ferrari and Aston all but banging doors towards Brooklands.
With Matt Bell retiring the no.23 Audi inside the last half hour and Westbrook unable to make up enough ground on Adam, third place was more than good enough for the Geddies to claim the title. Still Glynn Geddie made life awkward for Richard Westbrook – and nervous for the CRS Racing crew waiting to welcome the checkered flag – as he pressured the Porsche for second without ever really attempting the overtake. The pair crossed the finish line two-tenths apart, 22 seconds down on the victorious Adam.
Off the podium Tim Bridgman ended the race fourth in the second Trackspeed car, the Jones twin's Mercedes fifth. Zak Brown finished sixth ahead of a trio of drivers recovering from delays – Lyons, Matt Draper and Matt Griffin. The Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer CRS Racing Ferrari completed the top ten.
The Rosso Verde 458 finished twelfth. Hector Lester had spun at The Loop early on, dropping to the back of the field. Co-driver Gordon Shedden – subbing for Allan Simonsen again – was unable to pull the car back into the points.
In GT4 the race was dominated by the no.48 Lotus Evora. Phil Glew started the car he had placed in class pole and never lost the lead, holding off the Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta G50 in the early running before pulling away, overcoming the 20 second success penalty levied after the Donington win. Chris Holmes continued the good work in the second half of the race to give Lotus Sport UK and Glew a second consecutive class win.
“We had a good battle with the Ginetta,” Glew told The Checkered Flag of the opening laps. “We had predicted they were going to be close because out qualifying times were almost identical so I had a bit on them but any sort of change of direction, any chicanes we couldn't drop them, they just stayed with me the whole time. Eventually we'd just looked after our tyres and they hadn't so we pulled out a thirty second lead by the time we got to the pitstop.”
Unlike the GT3 title Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw were almost assured of the title, especially after the problems for t to enter the Secure Racing squad in practice. The ABG Motorsports duo ran consistently all race to begin the final ten laps third in class.
That became second when the Scuderia Vittoria car was given a drive-through penalty. The offending Ginetta, shared by Dan Denis and David McDonald took the final step on the class podium, benefitting when the second Evora – that of Freddie Nordstrom and Leyton Clarke succumbed to a technical problem only two laps from the end of the race.