Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography
Following a difficult race for many on Sunday July 22 at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for Round Seven of the 2018 British GT Championship, more details are emerging around some of the incidents which marred an otherwise gripping contest.
TF Sport’s Mark Farmer, at the wheel of the #11 Aston Martin V12 Vantage he shares with Nicki Thiim, found himself caught up in an opening lap incident which resulted in the #11 entry retiring before half a racing lap had been completed.
Contact with Remon Vos, driving the #30 Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, saw Farmer pushed into the left hand wall on the run down to Eau Rouge and, following an oil fire, out of the race.
“Very simply, I didn’t get a brilliant start and we (Remon Vos and I) were side-by-side exiting La Source,” said Mark Farmer. “He got a slightly better exit and was a nose in front and you can see from the onboard that the Aston of Graham Davidson and the Bentley of Ian Loggie had a little bit of contact and Vos saw that as an overtaking opportunity and just pulled left instantly and pushed me into the wall. There were flames coming out of the front, flames coming out of the rear and that was that. Over in an instant.”
“We were here to score a lot of points,” continued Mark Farmer. “We had the pace and a starting position that supported that but fortunately our championship rivals didn’t maximise the opportunity. We’ll nail Brands Hatch!”
Andrew Howard, driving the opening stint in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin was also caught up in the opening lap incident, resulting in damage that meant a lengthy stop for repairs and, ultimately, retirement in order to fight another day.
Team owner Andrew Howard was especially disappointed as the #99 car was showing some excellent pace round the 7 km Ardennes circuit and was the team owner was looking forward to a solid race before disaster struck.
Starting from ninth on the grid after driving his best ever qualifying lap around Spa, Howard made a good start but the run down to Eau Rouge was where it went wrong.
“There was unfortunately far too much contact going on at the start of the race’” said Howard. “This continued once we were out too and it’s unnecessary. Something happened ahead of me and in avoiding one collision I made contact with a Lamborghini, which broke my radiator hose.”
After repairs were effected, there was insufficient time for the car to complete the 70% race distance required to score points and so the #99 car was retired.
“We retired the car for practical reasons,” said Howard. “But also to make sure we didn’t get involved in other people’s battles. In summary, though, we’re pleased that the performance of the car was much improved and we can’t wait to show that when we get to Brands Hatch in two weeks time.”
UltraTek Racing Team RJN, with its #53 Nissan 370Z GT4 piloted by Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman also had a torrid time in the Belgian countryside, with Fletcher sustaining damage after being hit by a GT3 car at the Bus Stop chicane whilst closing in on the GT4 leader. Fletcher made it back to the pits, however, and when the car was eventually handed over to Plowman, the damage was still causing serious handling issues. But, despite the challenges, Plowman brought the car home and finished third in class.
“I drove the perfect race, I started with control and not too aggressively so my tyres were in good shape for the whole stint, allowing me to catch the front-runner.” Said Kelvin Fletcher. “Getting taken out by a passing GT3 car ruined our race. Still, we have two rounds left so I am still confident we can win.”
“It was such a bittersweet day’” said teammate Martin Plowman, “Kelvin drove brilliantly to gain a 20-second lead before getting punted off by a GT3 car. The car was very badly damaged after that. But instead of retiring we fought to bring the car home, albeit slowly, and gain points. As it turned out, a lot of our competitors dropped out! So it really was the story of the tortoise and the hare.”
The British GT Championship grid gathers next at Brands Hatch for Round Eight on August 4 – 5.