Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driver Richard Abra (on the left in the picture with Joe Osborne and Mark Poole) writes for Racing.GT about an eventful past few weeks on the track.
So it’s been a busy time for us at Barwell, in the last nine days we have racked up 2500km, starting at Silverstone with British GT, where we hoped to get things off the ground after a bad start to the year.
Free practice went OK, we found a nice balance in the car but the biggest problem we had was traffic. With 48 or so cars on the grid 14 of them being GT4 cars it was very difficult to get a clear lap, it also brought it home to me that in my opinion the closing speeds between GT3 and GT4 are now too great. It was so bad for me that I didn’t actually get a clear lap until the race.
Qualifying I had 30 mins in the car and two sets of tyres and I didn’t get one clear lap in. It was the most frustrating thing in the world not knowing where the car was at pace wise and we had to settle for P25. But then we turned our focus and attention to trying something different in our strategy to get out of sync with the other cars and get into some clear air, my team mate (with his over-taking boots on ) had a great stint climbing through the field making up several places before a safety car came out which then forced a pit stop and driver change.
The race from there on was pretty eventful, we had a fairly dramatic fire during the pit stop which the guys did a very good job of putting out and then two drive through penalties and a spin for my team mate Mark. But after all this and driving a VERY wide Aston Martin towards the end defending from a AF Corsa Ferrari I brought the car home in fifth. After all the incidents in the race and actually our first finish in British GT we were over the moon with fifth.
Blancpain Endurance Series at Silverstone
We then had to quickly switch our focus to another three-hour race at Silverstone in the Blancpain Endurance Series the following weekend. This for me represents one of the highest levels of European GT racing and we were a bit apprehensive, but thought it would be very good experience for us and couldn’t wait to get the car on a much faster Pirelli tyre.
We had good friend of the team Joe Osborne as our third driver – we get on really well and it was great having him as a team mate. I loved the whole weekend from start to finish, we were a lot more competitive than we could ever have dreamed of and after an excellent performance by the whole team we finished an amazing second place in the Pro-Am category, with very strong Free Practice and qualifying performances.
We were only beaten by a very controversial driver line of the Nissan GT-R which annoys me a little, as there are more and more drivers out there now graded to suit their racing programmes. Rules are rules and the only thing I could complain about from the weekend was the manufacturers ability to change or grade drivers as they please and not by the guidelines set.
Looking forward, the car is being prepared for the next British GT round at Snetterton next weekend, this will be the first 2 x 1 hour format races we have been to so it will be interesting to get stuck into a proper ‘sprint’ race. We will also hopefully be able to announce a few other cool plans we have for the rest of the year, see you there!