Aston Martin GT4 racer Andrew Jarman came away with mixed emotions after a trip across Europe to the famous Spa Francorchamps circuit, Belgium for Round 7/8 of the Avon British GT Championship.
The TXM sponsored driver put his TF Sport, Aston Martin GT4 Vantage on P3 for the first of two 1 hour races on Saturday. An early morning start brought damp conditions as the field of 35 supercars headed onto the grid. But with a rapidly drying circuit, Jarman took the decision to dive into the pits and switch to slicks and was joined by several drivers at the pit lane exit where they would have to start the race, having decided not to take up their grid position.
As the reshuffled grid got underway, Jarman found himself in 4th position in the damp conditions and quickly made his way up to 2nd before taking the lead heading into the fast Blanchimont corner. With a clear track in front, an impressive succession of laps gave the Milton Keynes racer a 12 second lead by the time the mandatory pit stop window opened to hand over to team mate Devon Modell.
But a slow pit stop after being stuck behind a coasting GT3 in the pit lane left Jarman/Modell with it all to do as Modell rejoined the track just 1 second behind 2nd place and fellow championship rivals, Beechdean Motorsport with 25 minutes to go. A battle for victory followed with Modell putting in a superb drive to stay in front despite intense pressure and an eventual three way battle for victory joined by the Lotus Evora GT4 of IZZY Racing, but the #49 of Jarman/Modell kept it in front until the line to take their second victory of 2014.
Speaking after Jarman commented:
“We needed this win after a difficult Snetterton [Round 5/6], I knew I had to push hard at the start to gain the advantage and try to build a gap which we did but then lost out in the pit stop stuck behind another car in the pit lane which cost us most of our lead. But Devon did a great job to stay in front under pressure from the Beechdean GT4 and then the Evora and it’s great to be back on the top step”
Starting from 7th for Race 2 after a difficult qualifying, Jarman/Modell were confident of securing a solid result in consistent dry conditions. But in what turned out to be a race of incidents including 2 safety cars, after team mate Modell took the start and managed to keep their rivals honest by holding 4th place position, a unfortunately timed pit stop left Jarman to appear behind the safety car and a lap down on the leader.
Several laps passed before eventually the field were allowed to pass the safety car in order to regain their position on the lead lap, this left Jarman in a GT4 train lying 5th and in sight of the leader as the race resumed with just 4 laps to go. Heading into Turn 1, an optimistic move down the inside was aborted leaving Jarman to run wide, before he quickly regained momentum to take 4th place heading into the chicane, followed by a near identical move around the outside of the chicane on the following lap to take 3rd with the leaders clearly insight
But it wasn’t to be as despite doing everything asked of him, Jarman was given a 1 second stop and go penalty for exiting the pit lane just four tenths of a second short of the minimum pit time, dropping the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 down to 7th place as the chequered flag appeared.
A disappointed Jarman spoke after the race:
“That’s part of racing I guess, it’s been a day of highs and lows and I’m really disappointed not to have at least secured a podium after such a great Race 1. I’m not entirely sure what happened at the pit stop but when you’re racing at this level the line between winning or not is so small, it’s just unfortunate today we were on the wrong side of it. The team [TF Sport] have done a great job as always this weekend and by no means is the championship out of reach, we’ve had our fair share of bad luck this year with two electrical issues [Silverstone & Snetterton] which cost us two wins and then the pit stop today, hopefully we can finish the year with a solid performance at Brands Hatch & Donington and we’ll be doing everything possible to win the Championship.
I’ve got to say a big thank you again to my sponsors TXM Plant, TXM Recruit, Raildoor Solutions, Danbro Accounting Service and Exhibition Coffee and now look forward to a short break to recharge and focus on the final races of the season”.
The next round of the Avon British GT Championship will be on 30/31st August at Brands Hatch, Kent
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