Von Ryan Racing scored a debut success for it’s new drivers last weekend at Silverstone as Gilles Vannelet and Adrian Quaiffe Hobbs gave the new for 2015 Mclaren 650S Gt3 it’s first British GT victory,
crossing the line just 0.588 seconds ahead of the rival Triple Eight Racing BMW.
The pairing were brought into the championship as last minute replacements for Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey after the former found himself banned for having two crashes in as many meetings which were deemed to be his fault.
The new duo looked strong all weekend taking second on the grid and they then went into an early lead when the pole sitting Beachdean Aston Martin spun on the opening lap with Andrew Howard at the wheel. They then lost the lead during the pitstops but recovered strongly to race back to the front of the field by the end.
The Silverstone 500 is the championships longest race of the year and is thought of as the blue riband event. It certainly lived up to its billing with incident, it started with rain and a soaking track and a combination of the changing conditions, two safety cars and teams going for different strategies left the result uncertain until the chequered flag.
Vannelet only just made the race as both him and Barwell’s Phil Keen were testing at Le Mans that morning and had to get a plane back to make the race. Vannelet actually had to swap places with Quaiffe Hobbs who had taken the car to the grid. Keen didn’t have that issue as his Team Russia by Barwell team mate, Jon Minshaw, was taking the first stint.
So as the race got underway, the pole sitting Beachdean Aston led until he spun entering maggots and so Vannelet took the lead from Ahmad Al Harthy who had powered up the field from his fifth spot on the grid in his Oman Racing Aston.
Things settled down for a while until around 30 minutes in when Derek Johnston spun his TF Sport Aston at Stowe. He was waiting to rejoin when the FF Corse Ferrari of Gary Eastwood came round. The Aston rolled forward a touch and made contact with the Ferrari sending the Aston spinning again and the Ferrari back to the pits to retire with a heavily damaged front end. FF Corse have since said that the Ferrari will have to be sent to a specialist to be straightened as the whole front end is bent.
This incident brought out the first safety car as a truck was scrambled to recover the Aston while Marshals swept up the debris. With the track starting to dry and the ideal pitstop time for a driver changed not yet reached, it left the teams with various options on what to do. Some stopped and remained on wets and then returned soon after for slicks, some didn’t stop at all and one team, 22GT in their Aston Martin GT3 stopped for slicks on their first stop.
They soon proved this was the right decision as they were soon passing the top four cars that were still on wets. The other cars on slicks were also progressing well but were further down the order after having stopped twice. This would mean though that if they did long stints, they’d be able to complete the race with just one more stop. We’d now see who had made the right call. The 22GT team were now in the lead though and pulled away from the field.
Things settled down for a while, in the 22GT car Mark Farmer had taken over from John Barnes who had given his team mate a decent lead. As the race entered the final hour, the Aston was planning on making one final stop but then disaster struck.
He lost control exiting club and spun across the track making heavy contact with the international pit wall. The impact heavily damaged the Aston and the front end was briefly on fire. Fortunately Farmer was unhurt but the resulting mess needed another safety car period to clean up.
This now left Quaiffe Hobbs in the lead in the Von Ryan Mclaren with Daniel Lloyd in second in the Oman Aston he shares with Al Harthy. Osborne was third in the Triple Eight BMW and Alexander Sims was Fourth in the Ecurie Ecosse/Barwell BMW. The Triple Eight BMW was also closing fast with Joe Osborne onboard.
The second Barwell BMW of Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw had also been a contender until it was hit by the Ram Racing Mercedes SLS. That had already been lapped after having a tough early part of the race. Alistair Mckinnon tried to make up time and unlap himself from the Minshaw car. But made a mess of it and clumsily drove into the BMW. The impact put the BMW out of the race with damaged suspension. The RAM Racing Mercedes was soon also out of the race as the stewards disqualified them for the incident.
As the front runners battled in the closing stages, Osborne got his car up behind the Oman Aston of Lloyd and soon found his way past. Sims in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW also passed the Aston which now slipped to fourth. Osborne now set off in pursuit of the leading Mclaren and as they entered the final lap he got close when Hobbs had to slow for a back marker. Although the two cars were now almost nose to tail, the Triple Eight BMW couldn’t find a way past the Von Ryan Mclaren. They crossed the lin together. Quaiffe Hobbs and Vannelet winning for the second time at Silverstone in a week having won the previous week in the Blancpain endurance series at the Northamptonshire circuit.
Behind the top two came the Ecurie Ecosse BMW of Attard and Sims, the points enabling them to retain their championship lead. Daniel Lloyd took the Aston Martin he shares with Ahamd Al Harthy to fourth after dropping back in the later stages. The Beachdean Aston Martin was fifth after spinning both on the first lap and then later in the race. Jonny Adam had taken the fastest lap of the weekend with a time of 2:03.599 breaking the circuit record as he fought back from lower down the order.
Sixth was the second Oman Racing Aston of Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher which had started in the same position. Von Ryan’s second Mclaren was Seventh with Ross Wylie and Andrew Watson. It had ran as high as third during the race but ultimately faded towards the end.
Jody Fanin helped to drag the TF Sport Aston Martin he shares with Andrew Jarmin up to eighth after they’d had a nightmare weekend. A misfire ruined qualifying for them and then they had a puncture in the first stint of the race.
Ninth place was taken by the Jones twins in their Preci Spark Mercedes SLS just ahead of Team LNT’s first Ginetta G55 in tenth.
Vannelet, had also won the Blancpain driver of the weekend award on his way to the win. He was very happy after the race;
“I had a great time! It was my first weekend in British GT but I raced the car at the Abu Dhabi 12 Hour earlier this year. The new McLaren is really progressive and ideal for a gentleman driver.”
Team mate Quaiffe Hobbs was also happy;
“It’s an amazing result for our first weekend in British GT! I didn’t know what was going on at times – we had a massive lead but then the Safety Car came out and we were eighth. I used the tyres up to try and get a gap but Joe [Osborne] was really quick. I was told I was fastest and then he caught me! The race has proven how driveable the 650S is and was fantastic all weekend. The team did an amazing job.”
Lee Mowle seemed just as happy with his second place alongside Joe Osborne;
“Fantastic! It was really challenging for me across both stints. I started out in the wet to dry and was then first out on the slicks, so it was a big learning curve for me. I’m delighted I kept it on the track and didn’t let anyone down because Joe has been phenomenal this year, so all I wanted to do was hand it over to him in a place where he could do the business.”
Attard was content with third as it keeps him and Alexander Sims in the championship lead;
“It was really tricky, and actually went better than we thought it would because I hadn’t raced in the wet before. At least Friday’s test was good practice. Then I was out on slicks on a damp track, but once it dried they were fine. Then I just left it to Alexander! I don’t think we could’ve wished for a lot more this weekend, especially as we’ve extended our lead in the championship.”
Attard and Sims now extend their lead to 11.5 points over Oman Racing’s Griffin and Butcher with Mowle and Osborne of Triple eight just 7.5 points further back in third. In the teams championship, Oman Racing lead Barwell by 41 points with Triple Eight Racing in third.
In GT4 things were just as entertaining although not as close at the finish. It was Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn that won for the second time this season but it wasn’t an easy race for them.
The early leader after the shuffles of the first lap was the Academy Motorsport Aston Martin of Will Moore who charged through from only twelfth place on the grid. He was followed by Terry Langley in the Quantamatic Aston Martin in second. They had a big gap over the Toyota GT86 of Richard Williams which had started second. Chadwick in the Beachdean car however was at the back after being spun on lap two by one of the Academy racing cars. She rapidly recovered back through the field to run fourth.
The Issy Racing Lotus of Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw which had started on pole suffered from a rev limiter glitch and so had dropped back but they remained in touch with the front running cars.
When the first safety car period happened Will Moore pitted for Slicks and to hand over the car to team mate Dennis Strandberg. They managed to make a quick enough stop to keep the lead from the Quantamatic Aston now driven by Mike Hart. But the third placed Toyota had been handed over to the always quick Stefan Hodgetts and he rapidly closed on the leading pair. He soon passed them both. Jake Hill in the AMD Tuning Porsche and Jake Giddings in the JWB Aston fought over second after passing the two previously leading Astons. But the Beachdean car was still on a charge now with Ross Gunn at the wheel. He passed the two Jakes who were still fighting with each other and set off after the Toyota.
But sadly the Toyota’s race was to come to a premature end when it pulled off with only 50 minutes to go with a blown engine.
Gunn now had a huge lead in the Beachdean car over the Quantamatic Aston. Hill and Coomes challenge in the AMD car had come to an end when they lost a lap during their pitstop. They had tried to get out before the safety car went past but just failed, meaning they were held while the entire queue went past. They ended up eighth at the flag.
Gavan Kershaw had now hauled the Issy Racing Lotus into third, the championship leaders maintaining their consistent points scoring. Kershaw had found himself under attack from the Academy Motorsport Aston late in the race driven in the last stint by Dennis Strandberg who took fourth in the end.
Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick were fifth in their Ginetta G55 just ahead of the similar machine of Paul Mcneily and Jamie Stanley. Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings could only manage seventh by the end despite battling for second earlier in the race.
The championship’s other female driver, Anna Walewska sharing the RLR/Bolton University Ginetta G55 with Rob Garofall had a tough weekend. The team didn’t have any setup data on the circuit and neither driver had driven a Ginetta G55 at Silverstone before leaving them to guess at the setup. This compromised their ultimate pace and they just missed out on a class top ten taking eleventh in class.
Gunn hadn’t expected to win the race after their early trouble;
: “It was a bit surprising to come back from where we were to be honest! Jamie unfortunately got in a bit of a tangle through no fault of her own but the team had a fantastic strategy, did a great job with the car and we can’t ask for much more. I’m chuffed to bits!”
Chadwick explains what happened to them on her first stint;
“Unfortunately I was hit at the beginning which dropped us right back to last, but really good pace in the wet meant we could fight back into a reasonable position. We managed to get the pit-stops right and Ross and I were both pretty consistent. It was a great job from all the guys at Beechdean and AMR, too.”
Terry Langley was pleased with his podium particularly after they had crashed out of the Rockingham event in qualifying;
“We’re massively pleased, especially after Rockingham. The first stint for me was great, pretty quick and consistent. Then Mike drew the short straw with the second stint getting caught up with the Safety Car.”
Gavan Kershaw was pleased to take third after a technical problem threatened to stop them finishing at all;
“It was hard work! I had a big problem in the middle of the race and we couldn’t accelerate properly; turns out the rev limiter had got stuck so that held us back. We were even going to retire the car until I wiggled the wheel a bit and hey presto! It worked again!”
Two wins in a row for the Beachdean duo give them a huge lead in the drivers championship and Beachdean have an equally impressivelead in the teams. Second is Issy Racing with drivers Kershaw and Gavan 31.5 points further back The PMW Expo Racing.Optimum Motorsport team fall to third after not scoring at Silverstone. The team had run two cars at Silverstone but both ran into trouble early on putting them out of contention.
British Gt now has six weeks off before the next round at Spa Francochamps in Belgium where both GT3 and GT4 cars will resume battle. By Marc Waller