British GT4 debutants Devon Modell and Andrew Jarman continued their impressive run of podium finishes to start the Avon Tyres British GT Championship season.
The fourth round of the season brought the TF Sport run pair to Silverstone for the longest race of the season and despite several set back throughout the weekend they were able to score a third place in the increasingly competitive category.
Their weekend started with problems when their Aston Martin Vantage GT4’s flat floor failed in practice before the set-up for qualifying, though designed to combat understeer proved to be a hindrance in itself during qualifying, limiting the duo to just 10th in class.
The start of the three hour race brought with it more misfortune when, just two laps into the race the car cut out under Jarman and while he was able to continue after completing a master reset and an unscheduled pitstop he did so more than 30 seconds behind the rear of the GT4 field.
At that juncture, however, the pair’s luck began to change albeit at the cost of the end of the teammate’s race.
GT3 drivers Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz had suffered through the practice sessions just like their GT4 counterparts, an accident early in the second session limiting their track time ahead of qualifying. They too were forced to take an educated guess on set-up for qualifying that unfortunately proved to be far from the ideal, leaving the pair starting 19th.
Early in the race Bailey tangled with the GT4 Lotus Evora or Oz Yusef, tearing the left-rear corner all but off his Vantage GT3, forcing the scrambling of the safety car to allow recovery of the machine.
The neutralisation of the race allowed Jarman to catch up the rear of the GT4 field, as well as offering the chance for the team to complete the first of three driver changes mandated by the regulations.
Modell’s first stint in the car was refreshingly trouble free and when Jarman took his second stint in the car he took the lead of the race as the different strategies employed by the GT4 teams panned out. While defending the lead from Rick Parfitt Jr, the Ginetta driver tried to make a pass through the Becketts and Chapel sweeps that only succeeded in sending both he and Jarman spinning out of the lead battle with Parfitt Jr. also called in to serve a drive through penalty for causing the accident.
In spinning Jarman lost ground to both the Optimum Motorsport and Twisted Team Parker entries so Modell drove much of his anchor leg in third place.
In the closing stages he had to give up any hope of chasing down Optimum’s Matt Draper for second in favour of concentrating on fending off Tom Oliphant, replacing Parfitt Jr. for the final stint. However, his race was ended by a fire under the #42 car, leaving Modell to hold back Ross Wylie in the Beechdean AMR. Driving a Vantage GT4 somehow seemingly wider than his rival’s Modell kept third place, moving them to the class points lead ahead of Wylie and his teammate Jake Giddings.
“It was really hard work at the end and I had to drive the widest Aston Martin in existence to maintain third place,” said Modell. “I wasn’t quite quick enough to begin with but I kept picking up the pace, settled into a rhythm and, by the end of my first stint, we were easily the quickest Aston Martin out there. We had no running during free practice, but decided to be ambitious and only change two tyres on the car during the stops. We just about got away with it and, given how the weekend started, a podium finish is amazing. Having said that, it speaks volumes that I’m slightly disappointed with third place!”