Ecurie Ecosse take a last gasp Brands British GT victory

Beechdean lead on the first lap (Photo by Marc Waller)

Beechdean lead on the first lap (Photo by Marc Waller)Ecurie Ecosse took their second win of the season at Brands Hatch last weekend with a great move in the closing stages.

Despite starting fourth, the duo of Marco Attard and Alexander Sims fought their way up to second place. A late safety car then put them right behind the Triple eight BMW of Lee Mowle and Joe Osbourne. Osbourne and Sims then battled for the lead over most of the final thirty minutes. The Barwell run Ecosse machine finally got past the Triple Eight car when Osbourne ran wide on a patch of oil ging through Graham Hill Bend with ten minutes to go. Sims in the Ecosse car managed to then pull out a 3.6 second lead before crossing the line. Sims was very happy with his performance;

“That was the race of the season for me. There was so much ducking and diving in that first stint that Marco playing it a little bit safe was probably the right thing to do. He did a good job to keep the car out of trouble. Then there was a Safety Car early in my stint, which worked out for us. Maybe I’d have eventually caught Joe but wouldn’t have had many laps left to pass. And my God I needed them! Racing so closely with him and Rory was really good. Fortunately I managed to capitalise on Joe slipping on oil. We had the pace this weekend, which wasn’t expected actually. The team has done a superb job and the car’s been lovely to drive all weekend. Pole in my [Pro] qualifying session, fastest lap and victory is testament to that.”

The Triple Eight car had always looked in contention for the win, following closely behind the early leaders Beechdean as they led the race from pole. When Andrew Howard pitted the Beechdean Aston, the additional twenty second success penalty they had for winning at Spa dropped them down the order. This put the Triple Eight BMW into a clear lead and it’s likely if it hadn’t been for the late safety car they would have won. Osbourne was certainly saddened that he couldn’t hold on for the win;

Rosso Verde just held off the Team Russia Barwell car  (Photo by Marc Waller) Chadwick and Gunn impressed and are in reach of the Gt4 title (Photo by Marc Waller) A coming together caused more damage than first though to the Oman car (Photo by Marc Waller) Academy took 4th and 5th in GT4 (Photo by Marc Waller) Tolman took their first win (Photo by Marc Waller) Third was a great result for the TF Aston (Photo by Marc Waller) The team celebrate the win (Photo by Marc Waller) The victors celebrate (Photo by Marc Waller)

“I was just trying to do my job and stay in the highest position possible. I was confident I could do that and was in a good rhythm and knew where both Alex [Sims] and I were strong. But then unfortunately I had to go around the outside of a backmarker, who wasn’t doing anything wrong, but there was some oil off-line and I just couldn’t get on the throttle quickly enough to keep him behind. I like to race hard but fair and gave him just enough room. You never like to go backwards so I’m disappointed but we’ll re-group as a team and move forward. It’s the strongest we’ve been, though.”

Sims was always determined to win though, charging round Brands Hatch quick enough to smash the GT3 laps record, he had reduced the gap to the leader to ten seconds before the late safety car was scrambled. Behind the battling BMW duo, the TF Sport Aston Martin of Derek Johnston and Matt Bell avoided all the on track incidents to take their best result of the season. Derek was delighted;

“We’re absolutely over the moon! It must be the car’s colour change, switching from purple to red… We went to Donington last week and spent the day changing the car because I never felt like I was able to drive it comfortably. So it’s been like starting again this weekend, but at least I can drive it! Sometimes you’ve got to go back to basics and it’s paid off. The sister car also used our set-up as we’ve both been struggling with the rear end. We fixed it and both Astons went well. It was a bit nerve-racking at the end though when things started getting close, but it’s been a great day.”

Beechdean’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam finished fourth in the end, a good result given their twenty second penalty. Their plan had been to pull a big enough lead early in the race to be able to counter act their twenty second penalty but repeated safety car periods all through the race spoilt their plan.

The FF Corse Ferrari took fifth, despite an early clash with Rick Parfitt in one of the Team LNT Ginetta’s. The incident delayed both cars but Pariftt was deemed to be responsible and was penalised for the clash. He would later crash out in a dramatic accndet which caused yet another safety car period. It was the safety car periods which helped FF Corse regain lost time. Both Gary Eastwood and Adam Carroll set some fast times on their recovery. Carroll in particular was very quick in his stint, coming close to the Beechdean Aston, and fifth was their reward.

Sixth was the Oman Racing Aston of Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher. They had clashed with the Ecurie Ecosse car in the second half of the race as Sims was fighting up the field. Butcher came off worst and although the incident was investigated after the race, no further action which affected the results was taken. They were just ahead of the Hector Lestor and Benny Simonsen Ferrari. Simonsen had been one of the quickest drivers in the field in the second half and Butcher would have been glad to see the flag with Simonsen catching him rapidly, sometimes taking over a second a lap out of the gap.

The second Barwell BMW (Team Russia by Barwell with Demon Tweeks) of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen had the pace for a good result but a success penalty from Spa as well as a pit stop infringement saw them drop away from the front runners and they took eighth just ahead of the RAM Racing Mercedes of Alistair Mckinnon and Lewis Plato. They had a relatively quiet run to ninth.

In tenth was the Von Ryan Mclaren of Ross Wylie and Andrew Watson. Their race was anything but quiet with Wylie getting involved in two incidents, A small off early in the race and then a big off with the Preci Spark Mercedes later on. Both cars lost laps in the incident but the Mclaren was recovered first. Some excellent driving by Waton in his stint saw them take the final spot in the top ten. The Mercedes lost an extra lap before it was recovered and the Jones brothers fell totally out of contention finishing behind some of the GT4 class cars.

Also running into problems was the 22GT Aston which crashed out of a possible top five in the closing stages. Earlier in the race the second TF Sport Aston had retired after a trip into the Surtees gravel and the Oman Racing Aston of Ahmad Al Harthy and Daniel Lloyd retired after a drive shaft damaged in an early incident finally failed out on the GP loop.

Alexander Sims picked up the Sunoco fastest lap of the weekend award while Lee Mowle received some compensation for missing out on the win with the Blancpain Gentleman driver of the weekend award.
The Ecurie Ecosse duo’s win sees them extend their championship lead to 34 points over Howard and Adam, who are now well ahead in second from Griffin and Butcher. There’s a new team at the top of the Teams’ standings, however, with Barwell Motorsport (Ecurie Ecosse and Team Russia) establishing a 21-point lead over the Oman Racing Team. (Motorbase) In GT4 David Pattison and Luke Davenport used the multiple safety car periods to their advantage and moved from ninth on the grid to win the GT4 class by the end of the race, only narrowly missing out on an overall top ten in their Tolman Ginetta. Pattison was thrilled to win;
“It’s my first win ever! I’ve had a few seconds and thirds but never anything as significant as this. Other than the birth of my children I don’t think I’ve ever felt so excited and can’t get the grin off my face! The Safety Car worked well for me but I was also consistent, which is all the team asked for. Brands Hatch GP is also a difficult circuit but I really enjoyed it. Luke’s been quick all season and was around a second per lap faster than the rest during that second stint. The team has done an amazing job: having a car that runs faultlessly obviously helps secure results like this.”

His team mate Davenport was also excited to take their first win of the season;

“One lap pace in the car has been amazing all year and we were on pole by half a second at Oulton. It’s amazing that a team as young as ours has produced such a fast car, actually. Tolman’s got amazing potential, as has David. We have to keep pinching ourselves! He’s come an awful long way in a short space of time. Luck hasn’t always been on our side but it’s worked out this weekend and we’ll build on it. The Safety Car was also going to help as the Pros are very evenly matched but we had the edge this weekend and I think the win’s thoroughly deserved.”

They was fifteen seconds clear from the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson. Robinson had been leading after the pitstops but David Pattison caught and passed him before the end. Johnson was still pleased with second but clearly wished the race had less safety car periods;

“We had a mechanical issue at Rockingham that we carried all the way to Spa without really understanding it. It came to a head there so we replaced just about every component and since then it’s been a different beast. We got Mike Simpson involved and had a day at Snetterton two weeks ago, conducted some solid set-up work and now we’re back to where we were at Oulton. Without a Safety Car we’d have dominated that race but it brought Luke into play. Second’s still not bad from seventh on the grid.”

Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn completed the podium in their Beechdean Gt4 Aston. They had qualified in fifth, an unusually low grid position for them but both drivers drove a great race to move up to a podium finish. Gunn explains

“We definitely got lucky in that race. I was too far back to see what happened between the Porsche and Aston but we’ll take the podium. We do need to work harder though because it’s unlikely we’ll win this championship relying on lucky podiums. But it’s good to see the Aston Martin again held up well over the longer race distance. All in all I’m happy.”

The Porsche and Aston Gunn spoke about was the AMD Tuning Porsche of Graham Coomes and Jake Hill and the Academy Aston Martin of Will Moore and Dennis Strandberg. Moore had led the race initially but the Optimum Ginetta had a better strategy which saw them pass the Aston in the stops. They then were also passed by eventual race winners in the Tolman Ginetta. Now Jake Hill closed on Strandberg. Going up towards Druids in the closing stages, Hill made his move but Strandberg wasn’t in the mood to give way and the two clashed. Both cars lost time and the Beechdean Aston passed them. Hill soon realised something was wrong and drive straight to the pits to find his radiator was broken. Strandberg continued but ended up fourth. Their Academy team mates Chris Webster and Mike Hart rook fifth ahead of Anna Walewska and Rob Garofall in the Bolton University Ginetta, having their best result of the season. JWB Motorsport with Jake Giddings and Kieran Griffin were next up. Behind them were the two Ultratek Lotus Evoras to complete the finishers. The AMD Tuning Porsche was classified tenth despite not running at the flag due to it completing enough laps of the race to be counted as a finisher.

Many of the other GT4 cars had tales of what might have been. Fox Motorsport took Gt4 pole with Jamie Stanley and Paul McNeilly but had to be rescued from the gravel trap early in the race before retiring for good when they had a collision with the Bolton Ginetta exiting Druids. The Issy Racing Lotus had a throttle sensor failure and Century Motorsport lost a great result in their Ginetta when they had a power steering failure whilst in a podum position.

The GPRM Toyota had already had an engine change after a failure on Saturday and was going well initially retired from a potential podium with a mechanical failure.

The results mean that Chadwick and Gunn extend their championship lead to 42.5 points over Johnson and Robinson, who have leapfrogged Yusuf and Kershaw following their non-finish. The Beechdean duo could seal the title at the next round at Snetterton which is a double header.

Advance discount tickets are still available from or you can buy on the gate on the day.

Full results from the Brands Hatch weekend are available from TSL timing By Marc Waller

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