Ecurie Ecosse win the GT3 battle as Beechdean dominate GT4

The race start was the highest the GT3 Beechdean car got all day (photo by Marc Waller)The British GT championship had it’s first longer length meeting of the season last weekend as they headed to Rockingham for a two hour race.

It was the Ecurie Ecosse Barwell Bmw of Marco Attard and Alexander Sims that started on pole with Attard at the wheel but Andrew Howard stormed in front in his Beechdean Aston Martin going into the Deene Hairpin.

There was a clash further back as the cars headed the Brook chicane. Salih Yoluc appeared to mis his braking point in his Von Ryan Mclaren and caught the back of the Triple Eight Racing BMW Z4 as he slid across the chicane right into his team mate’s second Mclaren. Ross Wylie and Yoluc were out on the spot. Lee Mowle in the Triple Eight car continued with some rear damage. The clear up meant an early safety car meaning Howard was unable to pull away in his Aston. Yoluc received six points on his licence and a £2000 fine for the incident.

After the safety came in, Attard immediately started trying to regain his lead. The BMW looked faster and after twenty minutes of the race had passed, Howard finally was beaten as Attard charged into the lead. Ahmad Al Harthy clearly saw a weakness in Howard’s defence and soon he too was through. He then set off in pursuit of Attard. He had nearly caught him when the pit stop window opened and drivers headed in for fuel, tyres and a driver change.
The Ecurie Ecosse car had to stop for an additional 10 seconds, a success penalty after their third place at Oulton which allowed the Oman Racing Aston to take the lead with Al Harthy now replaced by Daniel Lloyd. Now the BMW was the Hunter rather than the hunted as Alexander Sims closed on Lloyd, taking the Sunoco Sponsored fastest lap of the weekend prize in the process.

The two lapped together for many laps and Lloyd looked like he might be able to keep Sims behind. But coming up to the Deene hairpin, he made a mistake with his braking and ran wide. Although he was straight back on track, it was all the opportunity Sims needed to take the lead.

Sims then went on to build a big lead only to lose it when another safety car was scrambled. This one was caused when Adam Carroll in the FF Corse Ferrari brushed one of the academy Motorsport Aston Martin GT4 cars as he was lapping him. The Aston lost control and spun into the gravel.

Attard gets ready to pounce on Howard after the safety car (photo by Marc Waller) Anna Walewska had a strong debut until a puncture deflated the teams hopes (photo by Marc Waller) Will this be the last we see of the FF Corse Ferrari in British GT (photo by Marc Waller) Toyota didnt live up to their qualifying pace after mechanical issues slowed them (photo by Marc Waller) The GT4 Beechdean Aston was flying (photo by Marc Waller) Ginetta had a nightmare race (photo by Marc Waller)

The stewards decided it was Carroll’s fault and immediately disqualified him from the race. F Corse and in particular, Gary Eastwood, the car’s owner and co-driver, didn’t agree with the decision but there was nothing they could do, having been penalised for the second time in as many meetings, having lost their win at Oulton for a pitlane infringement. Eastwood has sinced threatened to leave the championship and it remains to be seen if the team return for the next round.

Once the safety car was in, Sims again pulled away but behind things remained close. Lloyd found himself under attack from the second Oman racing car driven by Rory Butcher (His team mate being former BTCC driver Liam Griffin.) Just behind that was the RAM Racing Mercedes of Lewis Plato who had a storming stint after taking over from team mate Alistair Mckinnon.

Despite closing up, those four remained in that positon across the line, Sims and Attard winning from Al Harthy and Lloyd with Griffin and Butcher third. Fourth was Plato and Mckinnon with Fifth being taken by another Aston, the TF Sport car driven by Derek Johnston and Mathew Bell. Completing the top six was Lee Mowle and Joe Osbourne recovering well from their run in with the Von Ryan Mclaren despite racing with damage for the rest of the race.

They were just 0.745 seconds behind the TF Sport Aston. The two team LNT works Ginettas were the other notable retirements with both cars stopping several times during the race before retiring.
Attard was overjoyed to see Sims take the win;

“We’re really pleased. I went deep at one point and Andrew [Howard] got past me, but he returned the favour later so I was able to take advantage. Then I could hand over to Alexander and didn’t have to worry about it because he’s just the best!”

Sims was happy to take victory

It all felt pretty good in my little bubble! Fair play to Daniel [Lloyd], he did a really good job defending so the first 20 minutes were great fun. After I got through it was pretty plain sailing, so I just got my head down and pushed on.”

Al Harthy didn’t seem downhearted with missing out on the win;

“Starting third and finishing second – and a first podium for me and Dan – represents a great result for us. We really deserved it and both drove really well – it was great teamwork. Morale will be really high tonight and going into Silverstone.”

Griffin made for a happy Podium as he was also really pleased with his result;

“Somehow our third place here seems even better than the two we had at Oulton! The car was really good and Rory and I make a pretty good team! It was a great race, really exciting and a great spectacle for the championship.”
Attard and Sims now lead the championship battle by one point from Griffin and Butcher.

The GT4 battle was dominated by one car, the Beechdean Aston Martin GT4 with Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn at the wheel. Just a week after being part of the team that won the Dunlop 24 hours at Silverstone, the pair headed for a dominant victory once again. The incredibly impressive Chadwick, who is still just 16, pulled out an amazing 47 second lead before handing the car over to Gunn, who at 18 forms the other half of the youngest pairing in the championship. Gunn then pulled out the gap still further to eventually win GT4 by a lap.

Chadwick, who has adapted to GT racing from Ginetta Juniors better than even she probably expected was very happy to take another win;

I’m delighted! Ross and I knew we had the pace this weekend but we really had to work hard to make sure we managed the tyres effectively. I brought the car back with a healthy gap and then Ross absolutely smashed it in his stint. We just had to bring it home from there.”

Gunn was full of praise for his team mate;

“Jamie definitely made my job easy! She put in really consistent lap times so it was just a matter of maintaining the gap. The pressure came on a bit with the safety car, especially with so much dicing around us. I was so pleased to cross the line at the finish.”

Behind them, Academy Motorsport finished second with Willie Moore and Dennis Strandberg. The team had rebuilt the car after it was badly damaged the previous weekend at Paul Ricard in France.

Dennis was happy with the team’s performance;

Both Von Ryan Mclarens took each other out (photo by Marc Waller) Attard greets Sims as he gets out the car (photo by Marc Waller) Attard and Sims take the championship lead (photo by Marc Waller) Chadwick and Gunn celebrate on the Gt4 podium (photo by Marc Waller)

“It was a great result for us. I think after qualifying we knew we could perform and I’m extremely pleased with second. It was tough at times but we did well and I hope we can keep it up for Silverstone.”

Completing the GT4 podium was Kieran Griffin (Brother of Liam) and Jake Giddings in yet another Aston Martin GT4. It was Giddings that got them the podium after a storming final stint and Griffin was very happy with his team mate’s performance;

“Obviously we’re delighted with the result! We didn’t expect it, but Jake delivered a fantastic stint. Overall, a brilliant effort.”
Anna Walewska joined the championship from this round driving a Ginetta G55 for Bolton University alongside the experienced Rob Garofall. Walewska and the team were “in at the deep end” but qualified mid field in Gt4 and looked set for a strong result before a late race puncture dropped them down the order. They finished just behind the championship’s third female driver Jade Edwards in twenty first overall.

She was happy with her weekend though;

“My first ever GT weekend, thanks to Bolton University. I really enjoyed it.”

She had a new team mate at Stratton Motorsport in the form of George White as her sister, Chloe has had to sit on the side lines due to funding issues. She hopes to re-join her sister later in the season. The team suffered various issues during the race, leaving them lower down than they would have liked in twentieth overall, tenth in class.

The next round is at Silverstone on 30th and 31st May.

Full standings and results from the Rockingham weekend are available from TSL timing By Marc Waller


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