Tom Onslow-Cole British GT Silverstone Report
After a stunning first outing in the Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 at Rockingham, TOC and team-mate Paul White put in another great performance at Silverstone.
I was really looking forward to Silverstone in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Although I had raced there in BTCC for many years, I had never raced the GP circuit, so that was the first challenge. The second challenge was that, at three-hours long, this was the longest race on the British GT Championship calendar and would be a great test for our very new Strata21 Aston Martin Racing team.
The first job was learning the circuit. I’d been on the simulator at iZone earlier in the week but, with 17 turns to tackle, and only four being hugely familiar, getting to grips with the layout was the priority in free practice. The car felt good and the conditions were working well for us, so having worked out where I needed to be, I cranked up the pace a little in the Vantage for free practice two. The result was a pleasing session, netting the fastest time overall. It was a great boost for the whole team, and helped us to evaluate our set-up options for qualifying.
The car was even quicker in qualifying, but it was also evident that everybody else had also found their own sweet-spot. We found ourselves in a field of cars that were also clearly finding time over their free practice results. We changed the platform of the car to improve the aero and the result was a well-balanced package. It was enough for a joint 10th grid slot in a packed 38-car line-up.
Paul started the race, but was run off the road in turn one. He kept it going well though, and was soon battling his way back, handing the car over to me in 15th place. I went out and had a really good stint, peaking at sixth in the running order as the pit-stops worked themselves out. Three laps into the session, I recorded the fastest lap of the race so far and the Vantage felt great.
Paul’s next stint saw him bringing it back to me in 11th, so I went out to try and get us inside the top 10. I took the place I needed, but a ‘short’ pit stop of just three tenths meant I had to come back into the pits once again for the world’s shortest drive-through! This lost us the place I had just gained earlier, but luckily for us, Joe Osborne spinning his BMW on the last corner of the last lap was enough for me to get it back. All in all, it was a meeting of mixed emotions. The car went really well and the team from Aston Martin Racing did a superb job. We managed to post fourth fastest overall, but we just couldn’t make it translate into track position, which is a real shame. The longer race meant a different strategy and, for much of the time, my biggest opponent was myself. It was all about trying to chip away at each previous lap and make small, definitive improvements each time. I had to keep my focus to ensure I was putting the times in! Shame I couldn’t have used my Casio watch, really! Still, a top 10 finish this early in my BGT career is a great foundation, and I’m already looking forward to our next test.