Nick Tandy Tops Wet-Dry Second Practice Session

by James Broomhead
A wet Zandvoort dried out to leave a frantic last few minutes (Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

The result of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship’s second free practice session at Zandvoort was – on paper – the same, with Nick Tandy taking the polkadotted Trackspeed Porsche to the top of the times.

However, the story of the second session couldn’t have been more different than the first, with a drying track meaning that times improved throughout the session with the final ten minutes proving a breathless affair as drivers took and re-took the fastest time of the session.

Tandy held the best time for a majority of the session, the same exchange of early flying laps ending with the Trackspeed driver fastest by more than half a second over the FF Corse Ferrari thanks to a lap of 1:55.030 that was nearly 14 seconds off his first session time such was the condition of the track.

Unsurprisingly the slippery conditions caught several drivers out. Optimum Motorsport – the fastest GT4 in the first session – was an early visitor to the gravel trap on the outside of Tarzan, but it was left to the APO Sport Ginetta to bring out the first red flag of the session after crashing heavily at Hugenholz, the impact demolishing much of the front end of the car shared by James May and Alex Osborne.

It was not the only red flag, the second called out when The AF Corse Ferrari slipped wide and into the gravel on the outside of Mastersbocht. Once recovered from the gravel the car, with driver Aaron Scott, was to take one of the main roles in the final ten minutes of green running that remained once they had returned to the pits.

At the end it was a largely Porsche versus Ferrari affair at the top, despite the PGFKinfaun Aston Martin briefly holding second fastest before being pushed back to fifth fastest by the end of the session.

Before the red flag to collect the stranded Ferrari Michael Caine proved the pace on the drying track by lapping the 4.3km to take the fastest time by four seconds. Whatever joy he and the Oman Air Motorbase team got from that, and the subsequent times when the #1 car held the best time, will be tempered by a five place grid drop for the second of the weekend’s races after Caine was caught overtaking under the red flags.

Caine held the top time twice more as he improved with the drying track, with Stephen Jelley also taking his turn at the top of the timing screens. The Ferrari element of the battle was provided by FF Corse and AF Corse, Rob Barff and Aaron Scott each going fastest before Tandy stomped back to the top with a 1:42.265, still four-tenths off his own first session time.

The two Ferraris were second a third, Scott and John Dhillon’s AF Corse example  ahead of the FF Corse car that Barff shares with Gary Eastwood. Phil Keen was a late arrival at the sharp end to put the #33 Trackspeed car fourth. His co-driver Jon Minshaw was another to pick up a grid-drop penalty, his for overtaking under yellow flags.

With the PGF-Kinfaun Aston Martin fifth, United Autosports’ Audi, Fortec Motorsports Mercedes, the Motorbase Porsche, WRT Audi and MTECH’s Ginetta G55 GT3 completed the top ten.

Beechdean, the championship leaders, languished down in 26th overall, their best of the session more than 14 seconds off the pace.

Century Motorsport were just 0.175 faster than their GT4 title rivals Optimum Motorsport, the Declan Jones and Nathan Freke driven car leading the way with a 1:52.273 lap.

The times in GT4 also came down markedly in the latter part of the session, with the Optimum Motorsport car occupying the class lead under the second red flag on 2:07.925. APO Sport had held the fastest time in class at the time of their crash at Hugenholtz, them missing the best conditions of the session meaning they slipped down the order, though their major task is to repair the car for tomorrow morning’s qualifying session at 9:25am local time (8:25 UK time).

The lone GTC class car in the race, Horsepower Racing’s Ferrari 458 Challenge, finished the session 16th overall with a best time of 1:50.068.

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