Webster and Lloyd close season with Academy’s first GT4 victory at Donington
15th September 2015
Century Motorsport’s Stinton/Freke thwart Academy one-two
A charging second stint from Daniel Lloyd helped the Aston Martin he shares with Chris Webster score Academy Motorsport’s first Avon Tyres British GT Championship victory of the season at Donington Park earlier today after hunting down the sister V8 Vantage of Will Moore and Dennis Strandberg.
Nathan Freke fought back from a stop/go penalty to claim second place for Century Motorsport and co-driver Ian Stinton, while Academy’s one-three helped them claim the Teams’ crown from Beechdean AMR and Optimum Motorsport.
When two of this year’s most consistent front-runners made contact on the opening lap the way was left clear for a potentially new GT4 race winner. Jamie Chadwick’s Beechdean AMR Aston was already sporting battle scars after her altercation with Oz Yusuf’s ISSY Racing Lotus at The Loop, but that was nothing compared to the terminally damaged suspension she incurred after her and Marco Attard’s GT3-spec BMW made contact at the same part of the circuit 25 minutes later.
Attard’s subsequent crash necessitated a Safety Car period that wiped out Moore’s healthy lead, and when racing resumed he was unable to shake the attentions of Century’s Aleksander Schjerpen. The pair ran in close formation before the pit-stops when a 15-second success penalty for finishing runner-up at Snetterton saw Fredrik Blomstedt fall to fourth.
Strandberg, who took over the #61 Aston from Moore, therefore inherited a comfortable lead, but he hadn’t reckoned on the pace of Academy team-mate Lloyd who’d spent most of this year’s British GT campaign competing for Oman Racing Team in the GT3 class.
Having passed Mike Robinson’s Optimum Ginetta on-track, Lloyd was gifted second when Freke served his stop/go penalty for not being stationary long enough in the pits. From there he began cutting into Strandberg’s lead, and with just five minutes left the two Academy Astons were nose-to-tail following the Swede’s off-track moment. Lloyd made his move at The Loop only to see Strandberg brake late into Goddards as the pair fought tooth and nail.
Slight contact resulted in Strandberg’s Vantage shedding its right inner wheel arch as Lloyd pulled clear to seal victory by six seconds. That it wasn’t Academy’s second entry that followed him home owed much to traffic and Freke’s opportunistic move on the penultimate lap.
James Nash’s similarly fast final stint translated into UltraTek’s best result of the season with fourth. The Lotus Evora he shares with Richard Taffinder eventually overhauled Blomstedt whose co-driver Strandberg finished second in the Silver Cup rankings behind Chadwick and Gunn by eight points.
JWB’s Kieran Griffin and outgoing GT4 champion Jake Giddings ended up sixth ahead of David Pattison and Luke Davenport who produced his typically rapid second stint aboard the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta.
Robinson and Johnson might have dropped to eighth by the finish but they still picked up enough points to finish second in the overall class standings during their first season of British GT behind Chadwick and Gunn, who were crowned at Snetterton.
The Anna Walewska/Rob Garofall University of Bolton Ginetta and similar G55 of Fox Motorsport’s Paul McNeilly/Jamie Stanley rounded out the top-10.
ISSY Racing’s pole-sitters Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw claimed the Pro/Am title despite their first lap incident with Chadwick costing several laps in the pits.
Chris Webster, #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage: “It’s all a bit surreal, really! I handed the car over in P5 but Dan had a massive amount of ground to make up and it was amazing to see him claw time back lap after lap. He got up to P3 and I stood quietly thinking ‘great, a podium! This is good’. The battle with Dennis was a hairy moment but we made it. Wow! To finish first in a championship as competitive as British GT is something you can never expect. You hope and strive for it but I’m a newbie to all of this so winning feels fantastic.”
Daniel Lloyd, #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage: “It was nice to maintain the link with Aston Martin and their Evolution Academy this weekend. But we’d been on the back foot for much of it after yesterday’s rain and I knew there was a lot more to come after a solid if unspectacular performance in qualifying. Chris did a really good job and kept his nose clean but there was some time to be made up when I came back out in fifth. I wanted to push but also knew the tyres would go off at the end so had to be careful. I’d been following Dennis for a few laps but saw he went into the chicane a bit hot so saved myself for a lunge at The Loop. He fought back but I saw him coming, so gave a bit of room and we both made it round. I didn’t expect to win this weekend but it’s a great way to end the season, especially as I had a lot of sponsors here.”
Ian Stinton, #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “Oh, it was fantastic! The first time I drove the car was in qualifying, which went absolutely terribly! I learnt a bit more in the warm-up but the race was the best one I’ve had for years! Passing people left, right and centre. Then Nathan did such a mega job to recover from the stop/go after being 0.2 seconds short during the driver change. He was second at the time and managed to fight back and finish there. We should have won it, shouldn’t we?!”
Dennis Strandberg, #61 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage: “To be honest I’m not happy with how the race ended or finishing third. Will did a superb job to hand it over in the lead but I made a mistake braking too late and went off into the gravel, which helped Dan to close in.”
British GT will return in 2016…
Click here for the #DoningtonDecider race result.
Click here for this year’s final British GT Championship points.
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com