Aston Martins lead the way after British GT visits Oulton Park

Track action (photo by Marc Waller)The Oman Racing team’s Michael Caine and Ahmed Al harthy left the opening rounds of the 2014 British GT championship with the championship lead after an eventful weekend at Oulton Park. 

The incidents started early when a Trackspeed Porsche and one of the 888 BMW’s were elminated in a bizare accident as mentioned in our qualifying report. The Trackspeed Duo of Jody Firth and Warren Hughes were eventually able to take part in Monday’s races after all when a spare car was brought in but the 888 duo were completely eliminated.

Caine and Al Harthy led from the start and looked to be on for a dominant win when a safety car was scrambled just as the pitlane window opened. Al Harthy had already passed the pits but his rivals hadn’t and all dived in to stop. Fortunately for the Oman racing duo, they had enough of a lead to stay in front by a second despite losing time. At this point the 888 Z4 of Luke Hines and Derek Johnson had looked on for a podium as they were in a strong second after a great stop. Sadly for them it was too great and they were hit with a stop go penalty in the later stages for making a short pitstop. AF Corse inherited second place with Richard Lyons driving the second stint after taking over from Pasin Lathouras. Andrew Howard, the 2013 champion was showing he was still very much a front runner and after Johnny Adam took over for the second stint he kept the pace up to take third, 4.2 seconds behind second place. United Autosports took fourth in their Audi R8 with Mark Patterson and Matt Bell behind the wheel. They were having a much better time than the sister BTCC team had the previous day! Showing the Aston Vantage seems to be the car to have, the Kinfaun car of Phil Dryburgh and John Gaw took fifth and MP Motorsport took their similar machine to sixth with Mark Poole and Richard Abra.

Sir Chris Hoy signs autographs (photo by Marc Waller)Chris Hoy impressed the whole paddock with an excellent first ever race in British GT his strong pace in his stint enabled Alex Bumcombe to take a ninth place finish. With points in his first race, Hoy looks set for a great GT career which if all goes to plan will take himm to Le Mans at some point in the future.

The GT4 race was dominated by Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie in the Beechdean junior team Aston they benefited from the safety car period to win the GT4 class by a lap from Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw’s Evora GT4 with Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell’s Aston Vantage GT4 in third.

Race two was dominated by Alexander Sims and Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 after they retired from race one but it was again interupted by a lengthy safety car period.

They got close to losing the lead on the pitstops to the United Autosport Audi R8 but Gary Eastwood’s Ferrari made a misjudged at Hislops and collided with the Audi putting both cars out and bringing out the safety car. The FF Corse driver was docked 6 points for the incident. His team mate Rob Barff had got into similar trouble in race one for hitting Declan Jones GT4 BMW, Barff was also docked six point for this incident. Barff and Jones had made contact last season at Snetterton when it was considered a racing incident but this time the stewards had no doubt and Barff was penalised.

There were only four laps left by the time the safety car came in. Jon Minshaw tried his hardest to snatch the lead in the closing stages but Attard kept ahead of the Trackspeed Porsche which had been helped to the front by an excellent first stint by Phil Keen. The Beechdean Aston pair of Howard and Adam took another podium with third ahead of the Dryburgh and Gaw Aston in fourth, that pairings best ever finish. The double podium puts the Beechdean duuo only a point of the championship leaders, Caine and Al Harthy.

Track action (photo by Marc Waller)Track action (photo by Marc Waller)Track action (photo by Marc Waller)Track action (photo by Marc Waller)Fifth was the sole 888 BMW of Hines and Johnston after an excellent race from seventeenth on the grid. The most disapointed duo of the race were in the M Sport Bentley.

After a great opening stint in the hands of Steven Kane, Rempert Berg had taken over but just before the end he went off, dropping to seventeenth and losing the Bentley’s first ever podium. Richard Lyons and Pasin Lathouras took sixth.

In GT4 Wylie and Giddings had hoped to take a double victory but slowed on the green flag laps and had to reset the car, losing them time and any hope of another win. Jarman and Modell’s Aston took the win this time, 4.1 seconds ahead of Morten Dons and Alexsander Schjerpen’s Ginetta with the Kershaw/Yusuf Lotus in third. Tom Oliphant and Rick Parfitt Jr had been one of the pre race favourites for the weekend but after mechanical failure put them out of race one (Fuel pump) they crashed out at Old Hall in race two when oliphant was at the wheel. Jarman and Modell lead the Gt4 championship from Giddings and Wylie.

Track action (photo by Marc Waller)Sir Chris Hoy was thirteenth this time, his appearance had greatly helped crowd numbers and when the Pit walkabout had been held in the lunch break the queue to meet the Olympic star had taken up half the pitlane!

Full race results can be found on TSL timing;

Race One  and Race two

The next meeting of the championship with be at Rockingham in Northamptonshire over the May bank Holiday weekend. By Marc Waller

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