Snetterton - 28th September 2013

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Andrew Williamson
Customer Programmes Manager
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Email: awilliamson@astonmartinracing.com


Race Report & Results

Qualifying

Following a summer break after the three Spa rounds, the GT4 Challenge field was keen to get back in car and see the year out in style at the Snetterton 300 circuit. Qualifying got underway at 11.16am in glorious Norfolk sunshine.

The drama began even before the session started, with the #24 Vantage Racing car trailing fluid down the pit lane. The issue was traced to an oil cooler pipe, which prevented the car from taking part in the session. Tom and Chris would have to start from the back of the grid in 10th place as a result.

GT4 Challenge newcomer Craig Dolby, sharing with Andrew Jarman set the pace in the #12 Stratton Motorsport car with a brilliant time of 2:01.653, a great effort on his first GT4 Challenge weekend. Having competed in Superleague Formula in the past, Craig is classified as a gold level driver, so would have a 30 second penalty added to his pit stop.

Tim Eakin and Richard Taffinder continued their impressive run of qualifying results, taking 2nd with a time of 2:04.013 in the Hills Racing #56 car. Desmond Smail and Richard Meins (who shared the car with Des at the Brands Hatch festival weekend) took 3rd place, narrowly beating Adrian & Clare Johnson by 0.170s.

Mike Brown & Paul Cripps ended the session in 5th place, posting a time of 2:07.142, just ahead of Paul Bartley & Mark Walker in 6th for Stratton Motorsport. John Dickson & David Tinn took 7th, 1.995s ahead of Kevin Norville & Calum Lockie in the #27 Track Club car with Kevin setting the time. Clare Johnson & Peter Snowdon qualified in 9th, Clare who would be driving both cars #14 and #66 during the race, so had a busy afternoon in prospect.

Race

The GT4 Challenge race was the final race of the day getting underway at 16.49. This was a great effort by the organisers as a significant amount of oil was dropped in the penultimate race, leaving the marshals very little time to clean the circuit.

At the start it was pole sitter Craig Dolby who made the break, with the remainder of the field filing through Riches cleanly, no mean feat given the slippery surface. At the end of the first lap, Craig had pulled a gap of 4.571 seconds to the chasing pack. Tim Eakin was holding 2nd, just ahead of Adrian Johnson in the #14 car. Tom Black in the Vantage Racing #24 car made a brilliant start and jumped up to 6th after starting in 10th place.

Craig continued to build his lead at roughly 4 seconds per lap, ahead of a great fight for 2nd. The pack, involving Tim Eakin, Adrian Johnson, Richard Meins and Mike Brown were all setting lap times in the 2:09s a great display of how evenly matched the cars were. Technical issues struck the #46 Mardi Gras car of Richard Meins & Desmond Smail, with Richard suffering a loss of power, dropping the car down the field.

 

 

On lap 10, Adrian Johnson suffered a spin at Oggies, but was able to continue. Tom Black driving the #24 overtook Mike Brown under the yellow flags that were brought out by the spin at Oggies. This meant that Tom had to serve a drive through penalty for the offence, undoing some of the great work that he had done earlier in the stint. Four laps later, Adrian suffered a second spin, managing to get going again; however this incident dropped him to 5th place.

30 minutes in to the race the pit window opened, with the cars filing in for their mandatory stops over the 40 minute period. All the cars completed their mandatory stops within the time allowed. The pit crew working on the #56 Hills Racing car did a tremendous job on their stop, with the stop time only one tenth of a second over the minimum permissible. The leading #12 car of Dolby and Jarman further lost time during their stop in additional to the time penalty applied to Craig’s gold driver status due to a slow wheel change.

On lap 20, the #17 car of Dickson & Tinn spun on the entry to the Brundle, resulting in a glancing blow with the barrier, the car was able to continue, however a hand full of laps the car suffered a second spin, with fluid appearing to be leaking from the underside of the car. This turned out to be a water pump failure, which unfortunately resulted in retirement for John & David, a sad end to their final GT4 Challenge race of 2013.

Technical issues resulted in retirement for the #47 pairing of Mark Walker & Paul Bartley, with smoke pouring out from under the bonnet, the car was wheeled in to the garage, where unfortunately it would stay.

Having lost time in their stop, Andrew Jarman set off to chase down Richard Taffinder, who was now leading the race, on lap 32, Andrew was able to pass Richard and start rebuilding his lead. The running order was #12 Jarman, with #56 Taffinder 2nd and #14 Clare Johnson in 3rd. Chris Kemp was holding 4th in the #24, ahead of Paul Cripps in the #7, just ahead of a charging Calum Lockie in the #27 car, having taken over driving duties from Kevin Norville. Peter Snowdon in the #66 Adrian Johnson Racing car was 7th, ahead of Desmond Smail, who was still managing to circulate having suffered a loss of power earlier in the race.

On lap 35, Chris Kemp in the #24 passed Clare Johnson in the #14 car, with Chris clearly happy with the car’s handling as his stint progressed. With the low sun now fading, the drivers had to deal with what was remaining of the light, shining through very dirty windscreens, a real challenge for the whole field to overcome.

Calum Lockie, set fastest lap of 2:02.817 as he charged through the field caught and passed Chris Kemp to take 3rd place with a move at Corum, however Chris was able hold on to Calum, with the gap stabilising at 1.2 seconds. Both Calum and Chris were catching Richard Taffinder in the Hills Racing car; however the gap proved too wide to bridge.

At the flag Andrew Jarman and Craig Dolby took an emphatic win ahead of Richard Taffinder & Tim Eakin in 2nd, a great result for them, after some bad luck this year. Calum Lockie & Kevin Norville took 3rd place, ahead of Tom Black & Chris Kemp in 4th, and Mike Brown & Paul Cripps in 5th and Adrian & Clare Johnson in 6th. Clare also took 7th place with Peter Snowdon thanks to her double stint, with Desmond Smail & Richard Meins taking the final place in 8th.