British GT Championship, Round 6 - 2 hours, Saturday 9 July
A classic Spa-Francorchamps day for Generation AMR Macmillan Racing
The home of the Belgian Grand Prix has a reputation for throwing everything at you and - with red flags, curtailed Practice sessions and rain in qualifying - it delivered yet again on Friday.
For a new team and two drivers who’ve never raced at the majestic track in the Belgian Ardennes forests before, it was a trying day but one with a lot of positives. Some very quick laps in tricky conditions today will send everyone to bed, fired up and ready for the big race day tomorrow, Saturday.
“A red flag that ended FP1 before I got in the car meant that I only had half of FP2 to learn the track,” said Matty Graham, “which isn’t ideal at a place like Spa.
“When we were getting ready to qualify, it started to rain and the session was declared wet, which surprised me because it was barely damp by the pits. We went out on wets, anyway, and when I got out around the back I saw why – it was absolutely soaking wet!
“The car felt well-balanced, and I had a good run, managing to put in a couple of quick laps, ending up second-fastest of the British GT4 entries.”
“With only ten laps or so under my belt in Free Practice,” reckoned Jack Mitchell, “I was still learning how to get the best from the car. I was building my speed and confidence with every lap, despite the really wet track on the far side.
“At first, staying on the wet tyres was working really well but towards the end of the session, the guys on slicks really came into their own and managed to bang in some quick times. We also had a quick lap disallowed for exceeding track limits and the car cut out on a second flying lap, which felt like it would have been even quicker.”
The net result for the team is that the no. 42 Aston Martin Vantage V8 will start 31st on the monster 57-car grid - sixth among the British GT Championship GT4 entries. Not the ‘front-row’ start among their title rivals that the drivers felt was possible but plenty good enough to give them hope of an excellent result in Saturday’s race.
“We thought the Aston would go well here,” smiled Matty, “and that’s exactly how it proved. The McLaren grabbed pole again and the Ginettas are fast - as usual – but we’ve got a good balance in the car and it felt good all day. I think we’ve got plenty to race with.”
“This place is a little bit of an eye-opener at first,” said Jack. “Especially Eau Rouge! It’s unlike anything I’ve ever driven before.
“Most of the track – especially the bits out the back – I got on really well with. I learned a lot today and I’m hoping to make more big steps forward tomorrow in the race, when we’ll have a lot more seat-time.”
“Spa has a bit of a reputation, doesn’t it?” said Team Principal David Macmillan. “We came here not really knowing what we’d experience but we certainly did a lot of learning.
“Tomorrow’s forecast is for dry weather but we probably can’t bet on that - this is Spa. Whatever it brings, we’re ready to go racing. I can’t wait!”