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Aston Martin GT4

Aston Martin GT4 Challenge - Round 9 Dijon

Qualifying Report

The 30-minute session started with a dry track but with the threat of rain in the air all teams and drivers were conscious of setting some good lap times early on. The early pace was set by Olivier Bouche in the Stratton Motorsport number 322 car, Karsten Le Blanc in the Nicholas Mee entered number 312 car was in second and third was Florian Kamelger in the St Gallen Aston Martin number 399 entry.

With 15 minutes to go Alan Bonner in the Vantage Racing number 324 car moved into third position with a 1.28.563, the provisional pole of 1.27.859 held by Olivier Bouche was now being put under pressure, Alan kept pushing and managed to put together a 1.27.524 taking the provisional pole moving Olivier to second, third was Karsten Le Blanc, fourth was the 399 car now being driven to Andreas Baenziger, fifth was the number 347 EQ8 Racing entry, with Paul Bartley at the wheel, sixth was the Aston Martin Lagonda entry with Nicholas Gourdol driving and 7th was Chris Kemp driving the Stratton Motorsport entered number 391 car.

With five minutes to go the order stayed the same but Alan Bonner managed to improve his time to a 1.27.018 claiming the pole position with a great lap.  



Q
ualifying Result:

1. 324 Tom Black/Alan Bonner – Vantage Racing – 1.27.018
2. 322 Pierre Mantello/Denis Tribel/Olivier Bouche – Stratton Motorsport – 1.27.859
3. 312 Karsten Le Blanc – Nicholas Mee Racing – 1.27.988
4. 399 Andreas Baenziger/Florian Kamelger – St Gallen Aston Martin – 1.29.258
5. 377 Wolfgang Schubauer/Nicholas Gourdol – Aston Martin Lagonda – 1.29.735
6. 347 Paul Bartley/Mark Walker  - EQ8 Racing – 1.30.534
7. 391 Chris Kemp – Stratton Motorsport – 1.31.594

Dijon Race Report

The 80 minute race started with a dry track and as the 28 car field, made up of a mixture of prototype and GT cars, from the AvD series and the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Great Britain, approached the line it was Karsten Le Blanc in the Nicholas Mee Racing number 312 machine who led from Pierre Mantello in the number 322 Stratton Motorsport car, third was Tom Black in the Vantage Racing number 324 entry.

Paul Bartley driving the EQ8 Racing number 347 car made a fantastic start and was pushing really hard for third position. Wolfgang Schubauer in the Aston Martin Lagonda number 377 car was also coming through the field very quickly. On the third lap Pierre Mantello came into the pits with a steering problem, the Stratton Motorsport crew managed to fix the issue and car 322 returned to the track, all be it a couple of laps down.

On lap 4 Tom Black in car 324 had a spin and lost four positions to Paul Bartley in car 347, Wolfgang Shubauer in car 377, Florian Kamelger in the St Gallen Aston Martin number 399 machine and Chris Kemp in the Stratton Motorsport 391 car. Tom re composed himself and tried to close the gap to the rest of the field once again.

Wolfgang made a great move on Paul Bartley going down the inside at turn 1 moving the Aston Martin Lagonda entry into second position, third was now the hard charging Paul Bartley, fourth was Florian Kamelger in number 399, fifth was Chris Kemp in car 391, sixth was Tom Black in car 324 and Pierre Mantello in car 322  was a couple of laps down in seventh.

The pit stop window for this race was from the 30th to the 50th minute, the length of the stop was for a minimum of 5 minutes and this was measured from the pit entry line to the pit exit line, so all cars had plenty of time to change drivers, tyres and refuel The only exception the this pit stop rule was for car 322 whose pit window was from the 25th to the 55th minute and they had to do 2 stops of 2 minutes 30 seconds as they were the only car in the field with 3 drivers.

The Stratton Motorsport number 322 car with Pierre Mantello at the wheel was the first to pit taking on fuel and tyres, Denis Tribel would now be taking on the driving duties for the second stint. Next to pit was Tom Black in the Vantage Racing number 324 car handing over the driving duties to the pole position setting Alan Bonner. Chris Kemp in the Stratton Motorsport number 391 car pitted next again taking on fuel and tyres but Chris was driving on his own so he took on water and climbed back into the car.

News then came through from Race Control that Alan Bonner had crossed over the pit exit line as he rejoined the circuit; the penalty for this was a drive through penalty, which Alan did straight away.

The Aston Martin Lagonda number 377 car was the next to pit with Nicholas Gourdol taking on the driving duties from Wolfgang Schubauer, Wolfgang had put in a great stint to put the team into second position. This was Nicholas’s first ever motor race but he had shown fantastic pace in both testing and qualifying so the team were very confident in his ability for the race.

The EQ8 racing 347 machine pitted next with Paul Bartley handing over to Mark Walker, Paul had also put together an amazing first stint getting the 347 car into third position. The St Gallen Aston Martin entry then pitted with Florian Kamelger handing over to Andreas Baenziger, the 399 machine took on four new tyres but no fuel.

On lap 31 the leader Karsten Le Blanc pitted in the Nicholas Mee Racing number 312 car to take on fuel and a new set of slick tyres, the team made a faultless stop and Karsten rejoined the race as the leader. On the very next lap the Stratton Motorsport number 322 car of Denis Tribel pitted for the second of their mandatory stops handing over to Olivier Bouche for the final stint.

With all the pit stops made it was Karsten Le Blanc in car 322 leading from Nicholas Gourdol in car 377, third was Alan Bonner in car 324, fourth was Andreas Baenziger in car 399, Mark Walker in car 347 was fifth, sixth was Chris Kemp in car 391 and Olivier Bouche in car 322 was in seventh.

On lap 33 with about 23 minutes remaining the heavens opened adding another twist to this already very exciting race. Cars 347, 399, 391, 324 and 377 all pitted for wets but the leader Karsten Le Blanc in car 312 and Olivier Bouche in car 322 remained on slick tyres. The rain then stopped and with the track drying again the advantage fell back to Karsten Le Blanc. On lap 37 Alan Bonner took second position from Nicholas Gourdol but with Karsten Le Blanc a lap ahead in the lead the fight for the race win was almost done. Chris Kemp in car 391 was chasing down Mark Walker in car 347 and on lap 43 managed to take fourth place from him.

The checkered flag came out on lap 47 for Karsten Le Blanc and the Nicholas Mee team to take the win with a faultless drive earning them not only the win at Dijon but also the 2011 Aston Martin Challenge of Great Britain title.

Congratulations to the Karsten Le Blanc and the Nicholas Mee team, including the other drivers of the 312 machine, Dan de Zille, Christiaen Van Lanschot and Hannes van Asseldonk, on a fantastic and very consistent year.

A special mention must also be made to Vantage Racing, Tom Black and Alan Bonner for pushing Karsten and the 312 machine all the way through the season with the title only being decided at the last race. Chris Kemp in car 391 ended up third in the 2011 series and in only his second season of racing was also a fantastic achievement.

We all now look forward to the 2012 season and the next chapter of the Aston Martin Challenge of Great Britain.

Race Result

1. 312 Karsten Le Blanc - Nicholas Mee Racing – 47 Laps
2. 324 Tom Black/Alan Bonner - Vantage Racing – 46 Laps
3. 377 Wolfgang Schubauer/Nicholas Gourdol – Aston Martin Lagonda – 46 Laps
4. 391 Chris Kemp - Stratton Motorsport – 45 Laps
5. 347 Stuart Patterson/Paul Bartley – EQ8 Racing – 45 Laps
6. 399 Andreas Baenziger/Florian Kamelger – St Gallen Aston Martin – 44 Laps
7. 322 Pierre Mantello/Denis Tribel/Olivier Bouche – Stratton Motorsport – 37 Laps