After disappointment in the first race the Beechdean AMR pairing of Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard took a dominant win in the second Avon Tyres British GT Championship race of Easter Weekend.
“Getting the win in this race is brilliant,” said Adam after stepping down from the podium. “Race one was just not our race with the crash and that left us with a lot of work to do in terms of repairing damage.”
“The car was never going to be 100% but what our mechanics did in an hour and a half was just incredible. There were big things, like the chassis, that needed work doing to it but we always knew our pace was going to be good!”
Adam started the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 from the pole position he won on Saturday, converting the spot into the race lead as the pack thundered towards Old Hall. Adam Carroll slotted into second in the FF Corse Ferrari, he and Gary Eastwood trying to sweep the Oulton Park weekend. That was always going to be a tough task, not only duo to the fierce competition on track but due to the 15 seconds added to their pitstop time after their earlier victory.
However, Carroll gave it his best effort, keeping the pressure on Adam before moving into the lead at Old Hall as the leaders started lap eleven. In the minutes that followed though Carroll was unable to build the gap large enough to absorb the longer minimum time in the pits. Thus though the Irishman led the top four into the pits as the pit window started to close he left at the back of the group, as well as falling behind the BMWs of Ecurie Ecosse and Triple Eight, the latter pitting a lap after the lead group.
The pitstops allowed Andrew Howard to take the Beechdean Aston back to the lead with a suspiciously large sizeable lead – 16 seconds lay between he and Triple Eight’s Lee Mowle once the pitstop cycle had been completed. Mowle’s leap into second after co-driver Joe Osborne had run fifth for most of his stint was equally surprising but at least some of the reason for the leap was explained when the top three GT3 cars were all handed a stop go penalty having been deemed to have undershot their minimum pitstop times.
Howard and Liam Griffin, running third in the Motorbase Aston started by Daniel Lloyd served their penalties almost immediately, Griffin fell to fifth but – such was the fragmented nature of the field – that he was able to keep the lead ahead of Steve Tandy in the Team LNT Ginetta and Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW.
While Howard took victory by nearly 13 seconds there developed a five way battle between Tandy, Attard, Gary Eastwood, Griffin and Mowle for the remaining podium places. Under intense pressure Tandy held his nerve to take second, the best ever result for Ginetta’s GT3 G55 in British GT.
“This time last year we missed this race,” explained Mike Simpson, who handed over the car in third place. “We decided to focus on the V de V Series and just focus on the longer races. That makes it all the greater that we can come back here and take a podium finish. I’m really happy that we’ve got a podium today, I am off the radar a bit as a driver so for Lawrence to keep me employed all this time is the perfect reward for him.”
“We have had three years of development with the car, Lawrence [Tomlinson, Ginetta chairman] and myself have been working hard on the G55 GT3 every step of the way to get it to the position it is in today.”
Attard finished third, holding off Griffin at the line, the Aston driver only a tenth of a second away from snatching the final place on the podium. Lee Mowle took fifth ahead of Gary Eastwood who lost 20 seconds on the final lap, falling from fourth to sixth on the final lap.
There was little of the chaos that marred the first race of the day, though Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw’s day ended with two DNFs after Keen was barged out of the race by Godfrey Jones, a lap down after pitting the Preci-Spark Mercedes with a left-rear puncture earlier in the race.
The second half of the race, and the stints of the less experienced drivers brought more contact. Ahmad Al Harthy was forced out of the race with front end damage to the #2 Oman Racing Team Aston while Andrew Jarman paid the price for an abortive attempt to pass Eastwood’s Ferrari. Their retirements and the stop-go penalty served by Motorbase’s #4 Aston in the closing laps elevated the much repaired VonRyan Racing McLaren of Ross Wylie and Andrew Watson into ninth behind the RAM Racing Mercedes and the 22GT Racing Aston Martin.
Oz Yusef and Gavan Kershaw won in GT4 for ISSY Racing, Yusef making the crucial pass early in his stint after Kershaw had shadowed the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta into the pitstop window. To his credit Luke Davenport had kept the lead for the Ginetta squad throughout his stint, the team helping to keep the car ahead after the pitstops, Kershaw pitting a lap later to hand the car over to Yusef who continued where his teammate left off in pressuring class leader David Pattison.
Pattison though was unable to soak up the pressure that saturated the rear of the #56 car, eventually falling to fifth at the checkered flag as Jamie Chadwick moved the Beechdean AMR car up for a second second place of the weekend with race one winners Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson completing the podium places in class after Johnson passed Fox Motorsport’s Paul McNeilly on the final lap of the race.
“We should have taken the win! It should have been easy for us to win!” beamed Kershaw after the race, praising the name who made the winning move. “Oz has done a lot of training over the winter, lots of physical training, lots of driver training, and he has now changed from being a gentleman to being a racer and it is absolutely great!”
The 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship continues at Rockingham on May 2-3.