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November 21, 2017

British GT Snetterton: Beechdean capitalise on nightmare day for Ecurie Eccosse

British GT Snetterton: Beechdean capitalise on nightmare day for Ecurie Eccosse

The British GT title will go down to the wire at Donington Park after Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam scooped maximum points from Race Two at Snetterton. In worsening rain which eventually prompted the clerk of the course to wave the red-flags with ten minutes to go, the Beechdean AMR duo ran faultlessly to capitalise on a nightmare day for chief rivals Ecurie Ecosse.

Alexander Sims and Marco Attard had qualified on pole in the dry on Saturday, but in the greasy conditions it was Adam who made the best start, driving around the outside of Sims at Riches before cutting across to the inside for the Montreal Hairpin.

DSC_1938_originalSims tried to carry more momentum around the outside, but missed his braking point and slithered wide onto the grass, dropping him into the pack. As Sims re-joined, Race One winner Rory Butcher, who had in turn been nudged by Ryan Ratcliffe’s Ginetta, was left with nowhere to go, the side-to-side contact causing punctures for both the BMW and Aston Martin.

Sims and Attard would eventually cross the line tenth, but their commanding 34-point advantage over Beechdean has now been slashed to just two, while two laps adrift, Butcher and Liam Griffin will need a dramatic turnaround at Donington to have any chance of the title. They sit 20 points adrift, with 37.5 still to play for.

“We’ve got a 20-second penalty that we’ve got to deal with, but wet or dry, we need to crack on and we have a simple target, we just have to beat the BMW,” said Howard. “I think I’d run out of traction-control settings to be honest, the conditions were absolutely unbelievable. I’ve driven here in very bad conditions, but I had never driven a GT car in these conditions. It was weird because it literally went in the last lap and a half and if they hadn’t red-flagged it then, I don’t think we would have made it back!”

Amid the carnage, Phil Keen charged through from fifth on the grid to second, which team-mate Jon Minshaw would hold until the end, a truly remarkable result having spent much of Saturday rebuilding the front-end after brake DSS_1508_originalfailure sent Minshaw hard into the tyres in FP1.

As the conditions became increasingly intolerable, Mark Farmer spun out of third place and was passed by the charging Rick Parfitt Jr., but it was Farmer and Jon Barnes that got to stand on the rostrum on countback. Behind a delighted Parfitt – who took home the Driver of the Day plaudits – and stand-in team-mate Ratcliffe, championship outsiders Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne took fifth in their Triple Eight BMW, which had run as high as second in the early stages before Mowle’s foot slipped off the brake pedal. Derek Johnston and Matt Bell’s TF Sport Aston Martin rounded out the top six.

In GT4, Fox Motorsport’s Jamie Stanley and Fulvio Mussi took their first win of the year, but fourth place was enough for Beechdean duo Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn to seal the crown by one point. Without a wet setup on his Lotus, polesitter Gavan Kershaw floundered in the early stages, allowing Brands Hatch winner Luke Davenport to build up a commanding 12-second lead over Stanley and an impressive James Nash.

After the stops, Mussi reeled in Davenport’s inexperienced team-mate David Pattison at a rate of seconds per lap to take a comfortable win, with Scandi pairing Alexander Schjerpen and Fredrik Blomstedt taking a second consecutive podium in the Century Motorsport Ginetta. Davenport and Pattison took third, but the biggest celebrations were reserved for Beechdean – once all the maths had been completed.

DSS_1710_original“That was a good race, we kept out of trouble which was the main aim,” said a delighted Gunn.

Howard was full of praise for his young charges, who followed in the footsteps of 2014 GT4 champions Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings by winning in their first season of GT racing.

“It’s amazing, absolutely amazing,” he gushed. “These guys came from such a long way behind, nobody really gave them a chance because of age and experience. You have to remember that neither of them had driven a GT car before this year, I’m absolutely thrilled. I think what you see here is two of the genuine talents of future GT racing. For us it’s exciting that we can provide this platform, so let’s see what we can do going on from here.”

About The Author

James Newbold

James Newbold is Racing.GT's Editor. He graduated from a politics degree at the University of East Anglia in 2015, which should help him navigate through the political minefield that is GT racing. He likes Marmite on toast and Oreo cookies. Speaks Spanish, but only when no one is looking.