British GT Championship – Beechdean AMR’s race-leading speed unrewarded at Snetterton

Beechdean AMR were the class of the field at Snetterton on Sunday, but a series of unfortunate incidents cost the team a first British GT Championship victory of the season.

Drivers Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn led convincingly after starting the final race of the weekend from pole position and set the fastest lap aboard their #97 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, only to be frustrated by events in the pits late in the day.

Snetterton’s event ran to a ‘Sprint’ format with a pair of hour-long races each served by a separate qualifying session.

Ross, who qualified second for Race Two, was promoted to the front of the field when the pole-sitting car was withdrawn from action ahead of the race and pulled away to a lead of several seconds as he set the fastest lap for the second time in 2023.

Unfortunately the race was to turn during the mandatory pitstops as, following slick work from the Beechdean AMR mechanics, Andrew’s pull-away proved slightly too effective, meaning the stop was timed less than a second under the minimum required time.

The result was a one-second stop/go penalty, which Andrew served soon after and dropped the car to sixth.

Unfortunately the High Wycombe driver – twice a British GT champion – exceeded the pitlane speed limit while taking his penalty, resulting in a further 30s being added to #97’s race time and causing it to fall to 12th in Pro-Am.

The opening race had served notice of the speed of the Aston Martin as Andrew – who had started ninth in Pro-Am – lost positions during a crowded first lap, but made several strong passing moves during his stint to hand over to Ross in good shape.

The Aston Martin works driver continued the car’s progress and took the flag fifth in class, only for #97 to be given a 45-second penalty post-race in lieu of a drive-through for contact, resulting in a drop to 13th.

The duo are now sixth in the Drivers’ Championship, 38 points from the series lead, but with 37.5 available from each of the three remaining ‘endurance’ races. Beechdean AMR hold fifth in the Teams’ standings in their return British GT season.

The championship continues with a first trip to Portimao, Portugal, in July.

Andrew Howard, Team Principal, said: “The team did a brilliant job at Snetterton and Ross drove the perfect stint in Race Two. Sadly I pulled away too quickly from the pitbox, so we were under the pitstop time. Then I compounded the issue by speeding after my stop/go. In this championship there’s little room for even a small mistake and I made two. Apologies to a great team and a fantastic co-driver.”