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Adam and Howard win British GT thriller at Brands Hatch

Sunday, August 11 2013

Johnny Adam and Andrew Howard worked together to avenge their defeat from last year in a stunning Avon Tyres British GT race at Brands Hatch today (Sunday). The lead changed hands several times in the opening half and whilst Adam was assured of the win, a close battle for second place held everyone's attention.

Steve Tandy held onto the lead into Paddock Hill but an audacious move by Andrew Howard saw the Beechdean Aston Martin claim the lead at Graham Hill bend. His reward was a lead of over a second by the end of the lap as the 888 Optimum BMW held back the rest of the field.

Early casualties were Phil Dryburgh, spinning the PGF Aston Martin on the Grand Prix loop and Gregor Fisken, who appeared to have been tapped by Mark Patterson out of Graham Hill, leaving the Trackspeed Porsche spinning on the exit.

As the first quarter of the race progressed, Howard was circulating just a couple of seconds ahead of a pair of BMW Z4s, with Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse example tailgating the 888 Optimum car of Tandy. The CWS Ginetta G55, in the hands of Colin White held a watching brief in fourth place but as he drew closer, made an opportunistic and successful move for third at Graham Hill. A few laps later he tried the same for second and by Surtees he was indeed into the runner-up position.

The battle for fifth place also began to heat up as Mark Poole tipped Jon Minshaw into a spin at Druids whilst looking for a way past the Trackspeed Porsche. Running in the same group, Duncan Cameron's Ferrari 458 was also turned around at the same place on the next lap.

White, already buoyed by his progress, attacked Howard on the outside at Westfield and using his oval racing experience, made it stick! However the dream lasted all of a handful of laps as Colin spun at Surtees and fell down the order to sixth behind a lead battle that had at least five candidates. Howard was back in front from the Z4s, now caught by the Aston Martin of Poole and the Von Ryan McLaren, in the hands of Gregoire Demoustier, a Brands Hatch rookie. He took fourth and then third places and as the Z4s squabbled, he took both in one move. Second after starting the race in 19th place!

As the pitlane prepared for the stops, Poole took third place but Howard was now defending heavily from Demoustier and the rest of the top five ran nose-to-tail. The McLaren emerged from the Grand Prix circuit in the lead, with Poole following through.

As the pit window opened there was chaos in the pitlane as David Ashburn stopped in the wrong garage, gaining him a penalty. With others making their driver changes, the scene was more akin to a busy Kensington street than a race track, with cars boxed in as they waited. The Z4s were first to leave the track, with the McLaren and Howard next. As the McLaren rejoined, new driver Duncan Tappy was just in front of Johnny Adam, now in the Beechdean car. Adam tried to pass at Paddock Hill and used traffic to box Tappy in on the run to Druids to take the lead.

Poole pitted the Barwell Aston Martin from the lead, leaving Ron Johnson in front in the team's BMW Z4 but he still had to stop and with Adam second and pulling away from Tappy, it seemed likely that the Beechdean car was in with a shout of the victory it missed out on last year.

After the pitstops had all taken place, Adam led Tappy and Oliver Bryant, in the Ecurie Ecosse Z4, with Dan Brown in the polesitting 888 Optimum BMW ten seconds in arrears. Michael Caine held fifth from Phil Keen in the Trackspeed Porsche, whilst Ben Hetherington was next in the Fortec Mercedes SLS, from Richard Abra in the Barwell Aston Martin.

Focus now turned on second place as Tappy fended off the Z4s of Bryant and Brown. The BMWs swapped places and as Hetherington came into play, Bryant's lapped team mate Piers Johnson went into defensive mode as Matt Bell's United Autosports Audi R8 caught them up.

As the race entered its final stages the battle for second became a duel between Tappy and Bryant as Warren Hughes' lapped Audi separated them from Brown, Hetherington and Bell. Hughes ran wide and let two of them past but there was not enough time for any changes to occur and the top six finished in that order. Champion Michael Caine's Motorbase Porsche took a lonely seventh from the AF Corse Ferrari of John Dhillon and Aaron Scott, whilst John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh's PGF Astom Martin and the polesitting 888 Optimum Racing Z4 tenth.

The GT4 class was won by Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jr in the Optimum Ginetta.

Avon Tyres British GT Championship Race
1, Beechdean AMR, Andrew Howard & Jonny Adam, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, GT3, 79 Laps
2, VonRyan Racing, Gregoire Demoustier & Duncan Tappy, McLaren MP412C, GT3, +9.054s
3, Ecurie Ecosse, Marco Attard & Oliver Bryant, BMW Z4 GT3, GT3, +9.830s
4, 888 Optimum Racing, Steve Tandy & Dan Brown, BMW Z4 GT3, GT3, +10.149s
5, Fortec Motorsports, Benji Hetherington & Jason Minshaw, Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, GT3, +11.577s
6, United Autosports, Mark Patterson & Matt Bell, Audi R8 LMS Ultra, GT3, +14.053s
7, Oman Air Motorbase, Ahmad Al Harthy & Michael Caine, Porsche 997 GT3 R, GT3, +26.977s
8, AF Corse, John Dhillon & Aaron Scott, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, GT3, +34.999s
9, PGF - Kinfaun AMR, John Gaw & Phil Dryburgh, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, GT3, 38.732s
10, 888 Optimum Racing, Lee Mowle & Joe Osborne, BMW Z4 GT3, GT3, +1 Lap

The next major event at Brands Hatch is the Lotus Festival on 24/25 August. Tickets are available from £18 with free entry for children aged 12 and under. For more information call 0843 453 9000 or click here.