Brands Hatch British GT: Tandy and Ashburn take dramatic win
|By Scott Mitchell||Sunday, August 31st 2014, 14:59 GMT|
Nick Tandy claimed a dramatic victory on his return to the British GT Championship after Trackspeed Porsche team-mate Phil Keen suffered a late puncture at Brands Hatch.
Porsche factory driver Tandy charged up to the tail of Keen, who had led for the entire second half of the race, but there was no time for team politics before tyre failure dropped Keen and team-mate Jon Minshaw out of the title fight.
Motorbase Aston Martin Vantages completed the podium behind Tandy and his co-driver David Ashburn, with Michael Caine just holding off Rory Butcher at the flag.
Caine's team-mate Ahmad Al Harthy made the early running, making the most of rear brake issues for poleman Andrew Howard and a brief hesitation from Minshaw to take the lead on the opening lap.
Al Harthy led the first hour with relative ease, fending off the early advances of Minshaw before handing over to Caine after a pair of safety cars in quick succession.
They dropped behind the Porsche thanks to a success penalty for their podium at Spa-Francorchamps, with Caine rejoining five seconds behind Keen as the meat in a Trackspeed sandwich.
Tandy, having taken over from Trackspeed boss Ashburn in the #31 car, had already made short work of Rory Butcher, who had taken over from Jeff Smith in third, and began to take chunks out of the gap to Caine, moving into second at Druids with about half an hour remaining.
The gap to Keen was then eradicated swiftly, and with 10 minutes to go the team-mates were nose-to-tail heading onto the Grand Prix loop.
When they emerged again at Clearways, Tandy had a clear lead - a left-rear puncture, believed to be the result of a failure on the inside sidewall, forcing Keen into the pits.
As Tandy roared clear to win comfortably, Caine fought off a late charge from Butcher to hold second and give him and Al Harthy an outside shot of the title heading into the finale at Donington Park.
The Motorbase duo will still require a nightmare for Marco Attard, who has assumed a commanding position with one race remaining.
A solid first stint put Attard seventh, which Ecurie Ecosse team-mate Alexander Sims turned into fourth by the flag as he dragged the Barwell-run BMW Z4 past Alex MacDowall, Tom Onslow-Cole and Matt Griffin before the race's end.
Griffin held on to fifth ahead of MacDowall, while Keen grabbed ninth from British GT3 debutant Ryan Ratcliffe on the last lap.
Last year's champion Howard followed up his difficult start with contact with the Triple Eight BMW of Derek Johnston later on. Jonny Adam eventually finished 16th, putting them out of the title fight.
In GT4, the Beechdean junior duo of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings took a dominant victory, while Devon Modell and Andrew Jarman made it an Aston one-two ahead of Jamie Stanley and Paul McNeilly.
Results - 77 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. GT3 Tandy/Ashburn Trackspeed Porsche 2h00m54.103s 2. GT3 Al-Harthy/Caine Motorbase Aston Martin +8.511s 3. GT3 Smith/Butcher Motorbase Aston Martin +8.672s 4. GT3 Attard/Sims Ecurie Ecosse BMW +37.471s 5. GT3 Griffin/Lathouras AF Corse Ferrari +40.784s 6. GT3 MacDowall/Dryburgh PGF-Kinfaun Aston Martin +40.941s 7. GT3 Onslow-Cole/White Strata 21 Aston Martin +54.705s 8. GT3 Eastwood/Carroll FF Corse Ferrari +54.932s 9. GT3 Keen/Minshaw Trackspeed Porsche +1m03.764s 10. GT3 Mowle/Ratcliffe Triple Eight BMW +1m04.719s Other class winners: 18. GT4 Giddings/Wylie Beechdean Aston Martin -5 laps