Beechdean Aston Martin Racing (AMR) contested the fifth round of the 2016 European Le Mans Series (ELMS) at the renowned Spa Francorchamps circuit. Beechdean AMR drivers Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Alex MacDowall finished the four hour race in fifth position, maintaining their hold of second in the championship.
The fifth round wasn’t plain sailing for the #99 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE car. Unfortunately car issues forced MacDowall, who was starting the race, to pit at the end of the formations lap. The early pit stop and a red light in the pit lanes resulted in the team losing a full lap from the start of the competition. The team were forced to give up the fight for a podium position, but the drivers corralled together and set upon a comeback.
The ELMS awards points to all finishing GTE cars, making it important for the team to remain aggressive and battle its way through the ranks. In a race full of Full Course Yellows (FCY) and safety cars, a strong race strategy was essential. Slick pit stops and consistent driver stints saw the #99 car take fifth position, giving them team a crucial ten points towards its championship total.
“Spa has proved to be very difficult this year.” Commented team owner and driver Howard. “Whilst we are still second in the championship with a slightly better points advantage, given the pace we showed it is disappointing that we not closer to the leaders.”
Aston Martin Racing factory driver Darren Turner, who only completed twenty seven minutes of driving time, much of which was under safety car conditions, explained, “That was definitely one of the strangest races I have done, but also one of the least stressful! We’ve got one more race to go now. JMW took all the points today and they are unstoppable - unless they totally mess it up at Estoril, our chances are slim. Nevertheless, we will get stuck in and make sure we defend any attacks on our runners up position.”
“I’m really pleased with my performance at Spa!” Said MacDowall, who drove the #99 car for almost two thirds of the race. “It was a difficult race after the technical problem we had at the start. The aim was to come away with a chance to challenge for the title at Estoril and we achieved that.”
Beechdean AMR may only have an outside chance of taking the 2016 European Le Mans Series GTE title at Estoril, Portugal on the 23rd October, but this won’t stop the team fighting for it until the end.
The most important thing for the team however – is at the minimum -maintaining their second position in the championship. This highly coveted spot is the main priority, as it means automatic entry into the Le Mans 24 Hour race next year on the 17/18th of June 2017.