Rd1 Brands Hatch - Race

The season got off to the worst possible start, as the Generation AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 was completely destroyed, when it was caught up in someone else's accident.

 

Thankfully, Matty Graham and the other drivers involved in the dramatic crash walked away unscathed - testament to the strength of modern racing cars but the team's hopes of a podium were dashed.

BRANDS HATCH

 

British GT Championship, Round 1 - 2 hours, Sunday 17 April

The weekend started off in a very promising manner. Both Matty and team-mate Jack Mitchell had settled into the car and team well, producing good, consistent speed in practice. Brands Hatch in Jack's local track and one he knows well, so he was really looking forward to the season-opener offering the real prospect of being in podium contention in the ultra-competitive GT4 field. Both drivers had lots of useful time behind the wheel, making changes to the Aston Martin V8 Vantage to fine-tune its performance, before qualifying.

 

New to the Championship, the car and the new-for-2016 Pirelli tyres, Matty and Jack both felt they could have found more time in qualifying, and that will come with experience but - bearing in mind their expected race pace - the team was happy to have made it safely through practice and qualifying without any dramas, securing a confident 5th place in GT4 for their debut in the series.

 

Sunday dawned clear and dry and team spirits were further raised as the boys went fourth-fastest in the morning warm-up, underlining the potential of the car in race trim.

 

Matty was charged with starting the car for the first-ever race for Macmillan Racing, for the brand-new Vantage V8 and for both drivers. At the rolling start, he safely engotiated a crowded Paddock Hill Bend, holding his place in the GT4 field as positions shook out over the first few laps of the awesome Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit. Settling into his stint, Matty then began to push passing the car in front to claim 4th position, as he worked his way up the lead queue of cars.

 

A strong move to claim 3rd spot confirmed the pace of car and driver - the rookie combination in a podium spot before quarter-distance of the 2-hour race. And Matty wasn't finished yet, latching onto the second-placed car, with the GT4 class leaders not far ahead.

 

Sadly, the great progress came to a dramatic end after just 40 minutes of the 2-hour race, as GT3 Aston driver Phil Dryburgh - recovering from a penalty for an earlier incident - caught the battle for the GT4 podium, just as the group was lapping other GT4 competitors, heading out of Surtees onto the Grand Prix loop. The bigger, faster GT3 car rode up the back of the Macmillan Racing Aston, launching itself into a series of terrifying barrel-rolls, while Matty and two other damaged GT4 cars slithered to a halt. The ever-efficient marshals were on the scene immediately, first concern being to enusre the safety of the drivers involved, as the Safety Car was scrambled.

 

Matty's view of the underside of the flying Aston, as it cartwheeled over the Macmillan Racing car gave him a shock but he was otherwise unharmed in the accident. Astonishingly, Dryburgh walked away from what looked like a plane crash completely unscathed and none of the other drivers involved needed medical treatment.

 

Which is more than can be said for the Generation AMR Macmillan racing Aston Martin. Damage is severe, and the car is already at Prodrive, for the experts at Aston Martin Racing to fully assess the state of the car and for remedial work to begin, in the hope of making the second round of the Championship, at Rockingham in two weeks time.

 

The race at Brands may not have gone well but now another race is underway - to make the grid at Rockingham...