The British GT Championship rolled into Snetterton in Norfolk on the Bank Holiday Weekend for a double-header of one-hour sprint races. The goal for the Beechdean AMR team was to continue to grab podium finishes in order to store up important championship points.
After finishing out of the points in Race 1, Darren Turner and his Beechdean AMR team-mate, Andrew Howard, stormed to second place, taking a good haul of points for their championship challenge. The duo now sit in third place in the drivers’ championship and are the highest placed of the squads running the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Both Turner and Howard qualified in fifth place during the two qualifying sessions on Saturday but Turner was later elevated to fourth when a fellow competitor received a penalty.
“Even though we’d had two good days of testing at Snetterton we ended up struggling for balance in the practice sessions,” said Turner. “The track was different for the race meeting, most likely due to the strong wind, so it was a case of who could find the solution the fastest. We made the breakthrough on Saturday night so we had a really good car for the races.”
Howard was behind the wheel of the #99 Aston Martin for the start of Race 1 and despite making a good start he then had contact with a Nissan, which damaged his right rear tyre, before being hit by the #75 Aston Martin, which ultimately forced him to pit with a left front puncture.
This extra pit stop put the #99 car out of contention as there is no time to chase down the gap in a one-hour sprint race. So even after a strong run from Turner, the #99 Aston Martin finished 11th.
For Race 2 it was vital that Turner and Howard finished at the sharp end. Turner started the race and despite a challenge at Turn 1, managed to keep hold of fourth, in the knowledge that two of the cars ahead were due extra time penalties during the pit stops.
“I had a good start but Jonny Cocker got his nose in at Turn 1 so I had to defend on the run down to Turn 2,” explained Turner. “We then had the Safety Car out for a few laps but once we got going again the top four pulled away from the field, all trading lap times as we made our way through the GT4 traffic. Snetterton is a challenge in that it is hard to overtake. You have to hope that the guy in front makes a mistake that you can capitalise on but nobody missed a beat.”
Turner pitted from fourth place and the #99 duly jumped two cars in the pits so Howard joined the race in second place.
“I got myself a good spot in front of the TV and watched a brilliant battle between Andrew (Howard) and Derek (Johnston) who was leading,” said Turner. “Andrew looked the stronger of the two, attacking hard, but Derek defended just as strongly. It was great to watch some really good racing and rewarding to finish on the podium after such a titanic battle.
“It’s a shame we missed out on points in Race 1 but we ended on a positive and, with Silverstone just two weeks away, we can now push to keep that momentum going.”