The 2015 British GT Championship got off to a thrilling start at Oulton Park last weekend, with the FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Gary Eastwood and Adam Carroll taking the GT3 class win. But their celebrations were short lived – the stewards judged Carroll to have blocked the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Rory Butcher, who was exiting the pits following their mandatory stop.
After an appeal by the Oman Racing Team, Butcher and team-mate Liam Griffin were promoted to the top step of the podium, scoring the first of Aston Martin’s double victories during the weekend, with the Beechdean AMR Vantage V12 taking the win in race two.
In Race one, the drama unfolded from the very first lap, with Griffin taking the lead from a chasing Gary Eastwood in the FF Corse Ferrari. But a first lap incident between Salih Yoluc’s McLaren 650S and two other cars brought out the safety car and compressed the leading five cars into a podium battle covered by less than six seconds.
A few laps later and the RAM Racing Mercedes SLS AMG took out Jon Minshaw’s Barwell Motorsport BMW and the sister Ecurie Ecosse Z4 of Marco Attard. The leaders then pitted under the safety car, with the FF Corse Ferrari of Adam Carroll exiting the pits just ahead of Griffin’s teammate Rory Butcher.
Carroll and Butcher were then joined by Joe Osborne in the Triple Eight Racing BMW Z4 GT3, who picked his way through the carnage to emerge in third from the pits, but it was Carroll who crossed the line in first place only to lose victory due to the previously mentioned penalty.
In race two, Beechdean AMR’s Jonny Adam let the FF Corse Ferrari go during his first stint, knowing it had to serve a 15-second success penalty during its mandatory stop. Andrew Howard took the lead out of the pits, but was then given a penalty for a short stop, along with Triple Eight and all three Oman Racing Team cars. The Beechdean AMR team served its penalty, but thankfully rejoined still in the lead, with Howard going on to win race two.
Speaking after Race 1 and before their penalty, Gary Eastwood, FF Corse (GT3, P1) said: “It got a bit messy behind us at the start but I tucked in behind Liam after a good, fair getaway and then it was a really good race. Adam drove a fantastic stint and the guys called me in at the right time; it was a good call from the team. So we went out, got in front and won it! We were always going to try for the win and it’s a lovely feeling when you get it.”
His co-driver Adam Carroll, added: “We came out of the pit-stop in the lead. There was a little bit of confusion under the Safety Car but once it settled down and we were able to get racing again, it was very close. The car had some bumps and scrapes, but wasn’t as bad as others! But it went our way, the team worked hard and the car was reliable. I think the cars are very close and there’s going to be some great racing this year.”
Whilst after Race 2, the winning pair of Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard gave their views on the GT3 race:
“I think today sums up motor racing in a way! You have good and bad luck,” said Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR (GT3 P1). “There was some fantastic teamwork from the guys today; goodness only knows how they got the car back on track! Jonny had a nightmare at the pit-stop, we changed all four tyres and still got a penalty for being too fast, so an impressive performance all round, I think!”
His co-driver Jonny Adam, said: “It was good to win after the disaster from race one! The car wasn’t 100% but a really impressive effort from the team meant it was ready in an hour-and-a-half. I struggled with the rear of the car a bit and had a little moment, but it was good enough and a great result.”
The Podium for both races were as follows:
1st. Oman Racing Team (Griffin/Butcher) Aston Martin
2nd. FF Corse (Eastwood/Carroll) Ferrari
3rd. Triple Eight Racing (Mowle/Osborne) BMW.
1st. Beechdeam AMR (Adam/Howard) Aston Martin
2nd. Team LNT (Tandy/Simpson) Ginetta
3rd. Barwell/Ecurie Ecosse (Attard/Sims) BMW.