18 May 2012
Beechdean Aston Martin snatch a late Nürburgring victory
Nürburgring, Germany, 18 May 2012 – Beechdean Racing’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam guided their Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 to victory at the Nürburgring this afternoon, as long-time race leaders, RJN Motorsport’s Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe were handed a drive-through penalty. Victorious again in GT4 were Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes with their Team WFR Ginetta.
Another glorious day at the Nürburgring was interrupted shortly before the race start by a light shower that peppered the track. The field stuck to slick tyres as they headed to form the grid, but the formation lap saw off track excursions for Sailesh Bolisetti (Lotus Sport UK – Lotus Evora GT4) and Hector Lester (Rosso Verde Ferrari 458); Lester escaped with a spin, Bolisetti made firm contact on the front left of his Evora GT4, but all made it to the grid.
As the twenty-nine-car field crossed the line, it was Mardenborough who led the pack into turn one. Making a flying start from fourth on the grid was Danielle Perfetti in his Motorbase Porsche 997 GT3 R. The Swiss driver sailed around the outside of the pack and looked to have completed a clean pass on Jody Firth’s Ginetta G55 (Team WFR), but under braking Firth carried on into the Porsche, tapping Perfetti into a spin; Perfetti would re-join, albeit last.
Speedworks’ Corvette Z06r was the races first casualty; Ron Johnson got on the power and the wet concrete at Turn 2, his race ending in the outside barrier. Contact was also made in the opening laps between Perfetti’s team-mate Steve Parish and Freddie Hetherington (JMH Nissan GT-R GT3), both wouldn’t make it to the mandatory pit stop window and the JMH car receives a five place grid penalty for its involvement.
Not escaping the first lap incident were the swollen pack of GT4 cars; Zoe Wenham (Century Motorsport) and Fannin both had to avoid Perfetti and in doing so gifted Mark Ticehurst the class lead on the race debut of the Mazda MX-5 GT4.
As positions settled, Mardenborough was flying in front. Howard, unable to match the pace of the Cardiff youngster was preoccupied by the pacey Luke Hines (Optimum Motorsport), who had made the most of the Firth/Perfetti first corner chaos and was up from sixth to third.
Now on acharge through the field, Firth was back into the groove, overtaking David Ashburn (Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R) and filling the mirrors of Ashburn’s team-mate, Jon Minshaw, who was on a fight back of his own. In the other GT3 G55, Hines was now past Howard’s Aston and looking to chip away at the six-second lead of Mardenborough. A series of fast laps from the Nissan put pay to this and Hines focused on extending his lead over Howard.
As the pit lane window approached, battles began to occur throughout the big field; starting drivers, keen to hand their cars over in the best position possible.
Minshaw was embroiled in a scrap with David Jones’ Mercedes SLS for fifth place and was soon joined by Firth, hustling his way through the field.
Similarly making light work of overtaking was Marco Attard in the Rhino’s Leipert Lamborghini; up to eleventh, from twentieth on the grid and pushing hard before handing over to team-owner Marcel Leipert.
Unfortunate not to win in race one at Oulton Park, Charles Bateman (United Autosports) was pressing hard, and by the midpoint of the race had joined the tail of the Minshaw, Jones, Firth group. Once Firth had passed Jones and made a move on the Trackspeed car under braking, Bateman jumped the Porsche too. This group provided great excitement; Firth’s move on Jones into the last bend and the move by Bateman on Firth into turn two were notable, the latter move would result in a penalty for the Audi driver.
Fannin was now leading the GT4 class, but the young Brit had a slender lead; the chasing pack of Ticehurst, and Foglio, were hot on his heels. Bolisetti was struggling in the Lotus and drifted away from the pack.
With themajority of the field now pitting, Mardenborough and Hines were putting in quick laps, and Mardenborough’s last lap before pitting, a 1:45.783, was almost two seconds quicker than the Ginetta driver, giving the current GT Academy Champion a 10.2 second lead.
Hines pitted from the lead; two engine stalls from George Murrells marred his slick changeover. This dropped the pair down to sixth on their return to the track.
Elsewhere, Tim Harvey, in for Jon Minshaw was thriving; powersliding out of corners, the Trackspeed driver made up two places in quick succession. Also providing a thrill for the huge crowd was Allan Simonsen. Now in the Rosso Verde car, the Dane was providing a master class in driving a 458.
Beechdean’s Adam was now reeling in race leader, Buncombe at an average of a second perlap. Also, pushing forward was Trackspeed’s Richard Westbrook, who despite being on Adam’s face could do little to improve past tenth at the flag.
Running in fourth was the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Oliver Bryant, whose team-mate Alasdair McCaig had pitted from third. Winners on their debut, the pair didn’t have the pace to match the Nissan and Aston Martin in Germany.
On a march were Michael Caine (Motorbase Porsche 997 GT3 R) and Matt Griffin (MTECH Ferrari 458). The pair made short work of those in front, and Caine’s progress, following a superb stint by team-mate Perfetti from the back of the field saw the Porsche driver push past the Ecurie Ecosse Z4 as the race drew to a close.
Championship leader in GT4, Team WFR’s Hughes was now over 20 seconds ahead of the Nova Race Ginetta of Marco Cassera, and Welsh Sportscar Champion, Dominic Evans (Century Motorsport) had the beating of Owen Mildenhall’s Mazda under braking with ten minutes to go.
Positions remained the same from here in GT4, but Hughes’ lead increased significantly to 55 seconds by the flag, despite a playful dice with Phil Glew as the Lotus driver attempted to unlap himself later in the race.
Colin White, one of four drivers competing in British GT and the Nürburgring 24 Hours this weekend, escaped the clutches of the rapid GT4 pack in his GTC specification Ginetta G55. He and team-mate Jake Rattenbury pursued the Swedish entered Audi R8 of JB Motorsports, but the pace between the GT3 and GTC cars was too great for the challenge to be a success.
With a lead of almost ten seconds, Buncombe was still being caught by Adam, but then came the news that RJN were dreading, their mandatory pitstop was too short by half a second and the team were given a drive through penalty. Buncombe duly obliged and returned to the track in third.
The final laps of the race were filled with overtaking; Griffin took Murrell’s Ginetta before its demise with suspension damage, and then passed Bryant for fourth. Attard’s team-mate, team owner Marcel Leipert breezed past the Trackspeed trio of Westbrook, Osborne and Harvey to finish seventh, a few seconds behind Godfrey Jones’ SLS.
Buncombepushed on, finishing three seconds behind Caine, but a podium finish was small reward for their efforts in the race. Adam crossed the line to the jubilation of the Beechdean pit crew, while an elated Howard basked in the glory of the win, which also provided Aston Martin with the first win for the V12 Vantage GT3.
Andrew Howard, Beechdean (1st in GT3):
“Awesome, mega, fantastic, amazing! To start in the conditions we did was difficult. It was cautious on the first two laps, once it settled down, I just couldn’t catch the guys in front. To be fair to Nissan, I think it was heading towards a great finish anyway before the penalty. Fantastic to give the Vantage GT3 its first victory too, what a place to do it.”
Jonny Adam, Beechdean (1st in GT3):
“That was great. I was up for the fight and I could see the target (RJN Nissan) in front and I think we’d have got them at the end without the penalty. It’s great to win and it’s good to have our championship quest back on track too.”
Jann Mardenborough, RJN Motorsport (3rd in GT3):
“I’m pretty happy with my stint, I was just trying to eek out of much as a lead as I could. We can’t argue with the penalty, we made a mistake and it cost us. Alex did a great job after that and to finish three seconds off the Motorbase guys wasgreat.”
Warren Hughes, Team WFR (1st in GT4):
“I don’t think we had as big a gap as we’d have liked at the pitstop, but Jody came through the field and took the lead in a very calm manner. It was a composed race and we just tried to make sure we were out of trouble, but it’s great to take another class win.”
Provisional Results – Nürburgring Race 1:
1. Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam Beechdean Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage 34 laps 1:01:40.468 / 153.411 km/h
2. Danielle Perfetti/Michael Caine MotorbasePorsche 997 GT3 R +16.305
3. Jann Mardenborough/Alex Buncombe RJN Motorsports Nissan GT-R +3.459
4. Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin MTECH Ferrari 458 +4.180
5. Alasdair McCaig/Oliver Bryant Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 +0.986
6. David Jones/Godfrey Jones Preci-Speak Mercedes AMG SLS +8.983
7. Marco Attard/Marcel Leipert Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini LP600+ +1.714
8. Jon Minshaw/Tim Harvey Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R +2.630
9. Steve Tandy/Joe Osborne Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R +2.441
10. David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R +1.983
1. Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes Team WFR Ginetta G50 1:02:41.674
2. Marco Cassera/Piero Foglio Nova Race Ginetta G50 +55.102
3. Zoe Wenham/Dominic Evans Century Motorsport Ginetta G50 +1 lap
4. Mark Ticehurst/Owen Mildenhall Jota Sport Mazda MX-5 GT4 +1 lap
5. Sailesh Bolisetti/Phil Glew Lotus Sport UK Lotus Evora GT4 +1 lap
1. Jake Rattenbury/Colin White CWS 4X4 Ginetta G55 1:02:40.317
Provisional championship points after 3 races:
1. Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin MTECH 45pts
2. David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook Trackspeed 38pts
=2. Danielle Perfetti/Michael Caine Motorbase 38pts
4. Alasdair McCaig/Oliver Bryant Ecurie Ecosse 36pts
5. Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam Beechdean 27pts
1. Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes Team WFR 75pts
2. Sailesh Bolisetti/Phil Glew Lotus Sport UK 47pts
3. Zoe Wenham Century Motorsport 45pts