Greatworth, Banbury 22nd April 2014 – Derek Johnston and Luke Hines made clear the intention of the Triple Eight Race Engineering squad in the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship following two potent performances with the lone BMW Z4 GT3 at Oulton Park yesterday (21 April).
Following the withdrawal of the #8 entry of Joe Osborne and Lee Mowle on Saturday night due to irreparable damage obtained in free practice, Johnston and Hines showed theirs and the teams desire to win the 2014 British GT titles with two points scoring finishes.
Starting from fifth place for the opening race of the season, Derek quickly passed the AF Corse prepared Ferrari of Pasin Lathouras and then set about pursuing Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW. The former GT Cup and Radical Champion reeled in the fellow BMW driver at a rapid rate, but was denied the opportunity of overtaking his rival when Attard pitted with a gearbox issue.
Quickly, Derek reduced a 1.5s deficit to reigning British GT Champion Andrew Howard in the Beechdean Aston Martin. Again though, Derek didn’t get the satisfaction of passing the Vantage GT3 as it peeled into the pits to complete a mandatory pit stop.
With a safety car period now underway due to a GT4 car off in a dangerous place, Johnston pitted under yellows to handover to Luke, the 2006 British GT2 Vice Champion. A dogged display by the 31-year-old saw Luke rise up the order, and put race leader Michael Caine under some intense pressure in his Oman Racing Aston. However, with less than eight minutes to go, Hines had to pit again to take a stop-go penalty issued because of a irregularity with his mandatory pit stop. Luke returned to the track with only a couple of minutes left to go, and the team settled for a seventh place finish.
The second 60-minute race of the day was an energetic encounter. With all the PRO drivers starting the race, unsurprisingly the race began at a rapid pace. Luke matched the pace of Lathouras’ team-mate Lyons and closed the gap to the Ferrari driver to just 0.4s before pitting under another safety car period to handover to Derek.
Rejoining in seventeenth place, Derek had a tough job ahead of him, but the Geordie went on an inspired march and picked off those ahead of him, rising to fourteenth, then to eighth once the pitstops had been completed. They say fortune favours the brave and Derek underlined his credentials as one of British GT’s quickest gentleman drivers with a string of sub 1:39.5 lap times, finishing with a 1:38.644, his best lap of the race.
In turn, as his rivals tripped over each other, Derek was consistent and duly picked up three places in the final half of his stint as race leaders Mark Patterson (United Autosports – Audi) and Gary Eastwood (FF Corse – Ferrari) collided at Hyslops and Bentley GT3 deputy Rembert Berg got caught out by cold tyres after the second safety car period when running third.
The double points scoring weekend sees Derek and Luke sit seventh in the points with 16 points, as the team head to Corby and the abrasive 2.05 mile Rockingham International Long Circuit in two weeks (4-5 May).
Derek Johnston, Driver #888
“That was a really enjoyable weekend. It was a real shame about the penalty in race one as I think Luke could’ve challenged Caine for the win. I really enjoyed my stint, but it was a bit frustrating not to get to overtake Attard and Howard! Race two was difficult because the safety cars cut my actual race time down quite a lot. Had we had a few more laps we might have been able to get a podium. The car is great, as are the team. Rockingham should be good!”
Luke Hines, Driver #888
“It was good weekend. Two points finishes at Oulton is never easy, especially with 34 cars. I’m happy with where we’re at; Derek did a super job. There’s a clear direction on where we’re going this year and the results from this weekend tell you that. I’m starting to feel more comfortable in the Z4, Rockingham will hopefully be another good weekend for us and the car of Lee and Joe too.”
Coverage of the first weekend of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship from Oulton Park will be available on Channel 4 on Saturday 26th April at 7am, with further coverage on Motors TV and BT Sport.