GT4 title rivals show pace on legendary Dutch circuit
Trackspeed’s Nick Tandy topped both Avon Tyres British GT Championship free practice sessions today at the Dutch coastal circuit, Zandvoort. The two 55-minute sessions provided plenty of excitement ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session and first race and the Porsche factory driver used his knowledge of the Circuit Park Zandvoort to finish quickest across the day. In GT4 it was the Las Moras Chevrolet Camaro of local driver Duncan Huisman who was quickest in the lunchtime session and Century Motorsports’ team owner and racer, Nathan Freke who went quickest in the second session.
The two sessions were subject to two completely different types of weather; the lunchtime session was played out in bright, warm, conditions, and a heavy downpour struck the North Sea coast track just before the second free practice causing teams to fix wet weather Avon tyres to their respective steeds. No matter what the weather was doing, Tandy was relentless and set a string of times that would’ve seen him finish quickest. His morning best 1:41.899 was 0.122s quicker than Jonny Adam in the Beechdean-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage. Adam was the quickest of the two Aston Martins and the rival John Gaw / Phil Dryburgh PGF Kinfaun-AMR Vantage lost time early on after pit lane contact with the Fortec Mercedes AMG SLS of Jason Minshaw and Benji Hetherington.
Third quickest in the morning was local driver Rembert Berg and Warren Hughes in the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra. Hughes set a 1:42.525 late on and that kept the Audi pair ahead of form-pairing Steve Tandy and Dan Brown in the #888 888Optimum BMW Z4. Behind them in fifth and sixth was the improving Benji Hetherington in the Fortec Mercedes he shares with Jason Minshaw and a strong performance for Ferrari from Aaron Scott and John Dhillon; the British pair giving AF Corse the edge over rivals FF Corse who finished tenth after progressing through the order over the 55 minutes.
Trackspeed were seventh with the Jason Minshaw / Phil Keen Porsche, the lap of 1:43.333 was three thousandths of a second quicker than the recovering Lee Mowle and Osborne BMW.
In the GT4 class Ryan Ratcliffe survived a brush with a wall to finish second quickest to keep his and team-mate Rick Parfitt Jnr’s title charge on course. The Optimum Motorsport racer was quickest until he was pipped by local racer Duncan Huisman in the Las Moras Chevrolet Camaro SS GT4’s lap of 1:50.010 at the end of the session. Third fastest in class was Frank Wilschut and Bertus Sanders in the second Las Moras Camaro. GT4 title rival Declan Jones was seventh in the Century Motorsport Ginetta G50, a 1:53.183 the Merseyside teenager’s best.
In the earlier session few drivers were caught out by the dusty conditions that make Zandvoort so unique, Joe Osborne fell victim to the undulating nature of the track and his 888Optimum BMW sat out the remainder of FP1 as it was repaired. APO Sport’s James May and Alex Osborne survived a couple of moments through the testing off-camber Gerlach and Hugenholz sections, but their Ginetta G50 wouldn’t have the same luck in the afternoon when a heavy shunt for May brought out the red flag. The team is confident it will take part tomorrow despite significant damage to the front-end.
Several teams visited the gravel during the second session; HDI Formido’s boisterous Chevrolet Corvette C6 GT4 and the British GT4 points leader Ratcliffe and Parfitt Jnr were two of several to pay the infamous gravel trap at ‘Tarzan’ a close inspection. Despite the slippery conditions Tandy again delivered a masterclass in control to finish quickest; as the downpour subsided, Tandy was joined by fellow Trackspeed competitor, Gregor Fisken and reigning British GT Champion, Michael Caine.
Unfortunately for Caine, he set a quick time while red flags were being displayed and his time was removed; the Oman Air Motorbase driver was also given a €250 fine and his grid position for race two on Sunday will be subject to a five place drop. Another driver to fall foul of the marshals was Jon Minshaw in the third Trackspeed Porsche, however Minshaw’s error was under yellow flags and he was awarded a five grid drop for race one tomorrow.
With a dry line now present on track, teams switched to slicks and the times tumbled. Scott and Dhillon were second quickest with a 1:42.265, 0.2s slower than Tandy, and the pairs Ferrari rivals Eastwood and Barff were third in the FF Corse 458, just 0.032s behind. Minshaw and Keen finished fourth, with Dryburgh and Gaw fifth. United Autosports’ Mark Patterson and Matt Bell were the quickest Audis in the afternoon, pipping Minshaw and Hetherington to sixth.
GT4 returnee, Freke, excelled in the changeable conditions and was a thorn in the side of the Dutch teams. The Warwickshire-based racer, 29, was masterful, but Ratcliffe maintained his earlier pace to finish under two tenths off the Century racer. Sandor van Es was third quickest in the class and the fastest of the Dutch teams, his Nissan GT Academy 370z GT4 finishing half a second ahead of Pieter Christiaan van Oranje and Ricardo van der Ende’s Ekris BMW M3 GT4.
Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz had a productive day in the Horsepower Racing prepared Ferrari 458 Challenge. The GTC entrants got to grips with the Dutch circuit and were comfortable ahead of the GT4 cars by some two seconds and a lot closer to the slowest GT3 competitor across the day. Tomorrow will see Bailey and Schulz make their race debut in the top British GT series, with an appearance at Donington Park in October also looking likely.
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship has an early start tomorrow, qualifying begins at 8:25 BST and lasts for half an hour. Then at 15:00 BST the contenders will gather for the first British GT race of the weekend, a 60-minute sprint race. The second race of the weekend will begin on Sunday at 11:00 BST following a brief ten-minute warm-up at 08:00 BST.
Nick Tandy, #31 Trackspeed Racing Porsche 997 GT3 R (First in both sessions):
“It was a good day today, the Porsche definitely suited the changeable conditions this afternoon. We were hoping to take a bit of an advantage this weekend with the fact it’s a new track to the championship and one that many drivers don’t know as well as many of the British circuits; I’ve also got a fair bit of experience here. The circuit is notoriously hard on tyres, so we need to watch for that as we’re not the softest on our rubber; however we did okay at Rockingham which also has an abrasive surface. I hope we can have a strong weekend and it’d be great to leave here this weekend in the lead of the series.”
Free Practice One – Full Timing Report
Avon Tyres British GT Championship: Round #6 of 7 – Zandvoort
September 6th – September 8th , 2013
Circuit Park Zanddvoort, Burgemeester van Alphenstraat 108, Zandvoort
2.676-mile / 13-turn race circuit
Race Duration: 2 x 60 minutes
British GT TV Broadcast (All times local to broadcaster):
Motors TV UK: Race 2, Saturday September 8, 18:00
Motors TV Europe: Race 2, Saturday September 8, 19:00
Channel 4: Highlights, Saturday September 14, 07:00
Motors TV: Highlights, Saturday September 14, 23:05
More listings here: http://www.britishgt.com/television.php
British GT Online Race Coverage:
Live text commentary – www.twitter.com/britishgt
Live timing – https://livetiming.raceresults.nu/zandvoort#screen-results
Schedule (Please note all times are BST [CET -1]):
Saturday, Sept 7, 2013:
Qualifying 1: 08:25 – 08:40 (15 mins)
Qualifying 2: 08:45 – 09:00 (15 mins)
Race 1: 15:00 – 16:00 (60 mins)
Sunday, Sept 8, 2013:
Warm-up: 08:00 – 08:10 (10 mins)
Race 2: 11:00 – 12:00 (60 mins)
Championship points after round 5 of 7:
GT3: 1 Howard 95.5pts; 2 Adam 89.5pts; 3 Bryant/Attard 89pts; 4 Bell/Patterson 79.5pts; 5 Caine/Al Harthy 70 pts
GT4: 1 Parfitt Jnr/Ratcliffe 146pts; 2 Jones/Wenham 118.5pts; 3 Osborne/May 100pts; 4 Chaplin/Wilson 97.5pts; 5 Eagling/Smith 81pts
Full standings after round 5: http://ow.ly/m5iU1
Blancpain Gentleman Driver Championship after round 5 of 7:
1 Howard – 104.5pts; 2 Attard – 97.5pts; 3 Patterson – 91.5pts; 4 Tandy 73pts; 5 JaMinshaw – 64pts
Full BGDT standings after round 5: http://ow.ly/m5iU1