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Aston Martin GT4

AMR GT4 Challenge Of Great Britain, Round 7 - Oulton Park
A First Win For Vantage Racing

Qualifying report

The 30-minute session started with a dry track, but with the threat of rain in the air all drivers were very conscious of putting some quick laps together early on. Chris Kemp driving car 91, the Stratton Motors entry, went off at cascades on cold tyres, hitting the barriers and damaging the front left hand side of the car; he managed to get the car back to the pits for the team to make a temporary repair. The early pace was set by Hannes Van Asseldonk in the Nicholas Mee entered #12 car, setting a 1:47.4 on his third lap. Tom Black in the Vantage Racing #24 car and Stuart Patterson in the EQ8 Racing 47 car were pushing hard and fighting over second spot, with Lorenzo Facchinetti in the #77 Aston Martin Lagonda entry fourth. On his fifth lap Hannes managed to post a 1:46.8, which would prove to be quick enough to take the pole position. The fight for second position then ensued with Alan Bonner, now driving the Vantage #24 machine, Olivier Bouche in the Stratton Motors #22 car and Marek Reichman, now driving the Aston Martin Lagonda #77 car, all pushing hard, but it would be Alan Bonner who would find enough pace to take second place with Olivier third and Marek fourth. With four minutes left in the session Chris Kemp rejoined the circuit after the repairs to his car were completed, but there just wasn’t enough time for him to set a qualifying time. So it was Hannes Van Asseldonk and Karsten Le Blanc who would claim pole position for Round 7 of the Aston Martin GT4 Challenge with a fantastic lap.

AMR GT4 Challenge of Great Britain, Oulton Park - Qualifying
 PosNo.TeamDriversCarTime
112Nicholas Mee RacingKarsten le Blanc
Hannes Van Asseldonk
Aston Martin GT41:46.890
224Vantage Racing Tom Black
Alan Bonner
Aston Martin GT41:47.962
322Stratton Motorsport Pierre Mantello
Denis Tribel
Olivier Bouche
Aston Martin GT41:48.374
477Aston Martin LagondaMarek Reichman
Lorenzo Fachinetti
Aston Martin GT41:52.405
547Stratton Motorsport Stuart Patterson
Mark Walker
Aston Martin N241:52.710
65Mardi Gras MotorsportDesmond SmailAston Martin N241:53.285
73Alan Hudd RacingAlan Hudd
David Croft
Aston Martin N241:54.578
856Ultimate Speed Richard Taffinder
Tim Eakin
Aston Martin N241:56.288
991Stratton Motorsport Chris Kemp
Stuart Hall
Aston Martin GT4No time

Race Report


Karsten Le Blanc, in the Nicholas Mee #12 car, led the field round on the green flag lap and as they approached the start line the field was in perfect formation - the lights went out and it was Karsten who managed to hold the lead into turn one. Tom Black in car 24 held second position with Pierre Mantello in car 22 third, fourth was Marek Reichman in car 77 and fifth was Stuart Patterson in car 47. On Lap 3 Chris Kemp in car 91 had to pit to repair the floor tray, which was rubbing on the surface of the track. This damage was the remnants from the qualifying incident - the Stratton Motors team managed to repair the car and Chris rejoined the race, albeit several laps down. By Lap 4 Karsten Le Blanc had managed to gain an 11 second lead. Cars 24, 22 and 77 were fighting very hard for second with Black in car 24 making his Aston Martin GT4 car as wide as possible to defend from Mantello, in car 22 and Marek Reichman in 77.

Desmond Smail, in the Mardis Gras Motorsport #5 entry, was having a very tightly-fought battle with Stuart Patterson in the EQ8 Racing #47 car, Stuart managing to get past Desmond going into Turn 1 with a great manoeuvre. Stuart was now chasing after Marek Reichman in the Aston Martin Lagonda #77 car and bringing Desmond Smail with him, so a three-way battle then ensued for fourth.

Marek held on well, but a coming together at Turn 6 forced him into a spin and he lost about 20 seconds in the process, dropping him to seventh. Patterson now held fourth, with Smail fifth. Sixth was Alan Hudd in the Alan Hudd Racing #3 machine. On Lap 6 Mantello passed Black for second position.

With 14 laps completed it was Karsten Le Blanc leading with a very impressive 29-second gap; second was Mantello and Black third. The pitstop window opened and the first to pit for their mandatory two-minute stop was Pierre Mantello in car 22 handing over the driving duties to Denis Tribel. Next to pit was Marek Reichman in car 77 handing over to Lorenzo Facchinetti, Tom Black in car 24 also pitted handing over to Alan Bonner, as did Stuart Patterson in car 47 with Mark Walker ready to take on the driving duties.

Chris Kemp in car 91 pitted on the next lap handing over to Stuart Hall, but, as Stuart is classed as an FIA Gold driver, he carried a handicap penalty of 50 seconds which had to be taken before the team could take their mandatory stop, Chris had to remain in the car with the engine switched off for this 50 second period. Tim Eakin in the Ultimate Speed #56 car pitted next to hand over driving duties to Richard Taffinder. Next down the pit lane was the leader Karsten Le Blanc who was handing over to Hannes Van Asseldonk, Hannes also carried a handicap penalty for being an FIA Silver driver so Karsten had to remain in the #12 car for 30 seconds before the team could refuel in their mandatory two- minute stop.

Desmond Smail, who was driving solo for this race, now led from Alan Hudd in car 3, but both cars were still yet to pit. Third was Hannes Van Asseldonk in car 12, fourth was Alan Bonner in car 24 and fifth was Lorenzo Facchinetti in car 77.

News then came through that the safety car was being deployed as Hannes Van Asseldonk in car 12 had gone off at Cascades under breaking - it later turned out that Hannes had turned off the ABS system by accident which led to the car locking up and ending up in the barriers. With the safety car now on track and gathering the field together, Hudd seized the opportunity and pitted to hand over to David Croft; and on the very next lap Smail pitted for his two-minute mandatory stop.

The race was then red-flagged as there had been severe damage to the barriers, which needed repairing. The cars came round to the start line awaiting news of a restart; the decision was made by the clerk of the course to restart the race as the field had only completed 66% of the race distance. The new race duration would be for 20 minutes - the MSA Blue book stating that:

“Any race stopped after the leader has completed more than two laps, but less than 75% of its duration, will be considered as the first part of a two-part race. Cars will be restarted from a grid set out in the finishing order, which shall be based upon the order of crossing the finish line at one lap less than at the time of first showing the Red Flag. Only cars, which are under their own power at the showing of the Red Flag, will be classified. The result will be the order of finishing at the end of the restarted race.”

This all meant that Desmond Smail in car 5 would be on pole, with David Croft in Car 3 second for the restart. The field would be led round for one green-flag lap behind the safety car and form up for the restart of this very exciting race. Smail led the grid into Turn 1, but it was Alan Bonner in the Vantage Racing #24 machine who would lead the field across the line at the end of Lap 1. Second was Lorenzo Facchinetti in the Aston Martin Lagonda #77 entry and third was the hard-charging Stuart Hall in the Stratton Motors #91 machine. Stuart passed Lorenzo on Lap 2 and set about catching Alan.

Fourth was Olivier Bouche, who was now driving the #22 Stratton Motors machine. Hall caught Bonner and by Lap 5 was less than half a second behind him, Stuart managing to set the fastest lap of the race in the process with a very impressive 1:46.519. Alan now had to drive very defensively to hold off his determined pursuer. The battle for third was also being intensely fought over, with Bouche chasing down Facchinetti.

The lead battle was getting very tense, with Hall pushing Bonner very hard, but with the leader making his Aston Martin GT4 as wide as he could; and it was the Scot’s skill that enabled him to hold off the Stratton car and claim his and Tom Black’s first win in the series.

Stuart Hall and Chris Kemp finished second, which was a very impressive result considering all of the dramas the car had gone through over the race weekend. Third were Marek Reichman and Lorenzo Facchinetti with another great result for the Aston Martin Lagonda #77 entry.

AMR GT4 Challenge of Great Britain, Oulton Park - Race
 PosNo.TeamDriversCarLaps/TimeBest
124Vantage Racing Tom Black
Alan Bonner
Aston Martin GT411 laps
20:00.757
1:47.936
291Stratton Motorsport Chris Kemp
Stuart Hall
Aston Martin GT411 laps
+3.413
1:46.519
377Aston Martin LagondaMarek Reichman
Lorenzo Fachinetti
Aston Martin GT411 laps
+3.413
1:49.976
422Stratton Motorsport Pierre Mantello
Denis Tribel
Olivier Bouche
Aston Martin GT411 laps
+3.413
1:50.132
53Alan Hudd RacingAlan Hudd
David Croft
Aston Martin N2411 laps
+3.413
1:54.632
647Stratton Motorsport Stuart Patterson
Mark Walker
Aston Martin N2411 laps
+3.413
1:54.857
756Ultimate Speed Richard Taffinder
Tim Eakin
Aston Martin N2410 laps1:59.226
85Mardi Gras MotorsportDesmond SmailAston Martin N247 laps
DNC
1:54.693
912Nicholas Mee RacingKarsten le Blanc
Hannes Van Asseldonk
Aston Martin GT40 laps
DNS
-

Round 8 of the AMR GT4 Challenge Of Great Britain takes place at Brands Hatch on August 27.