Bryant And Attard Secure Third In British GT Standings For Ecurie Ecosse
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, October 08, 2013, 03:10 PM EDT
Ecurie Ecosse powered by Black Bull drivers Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard guided their BMW Z4 GT3 to fifth place in Sunday's British GT finale at Donington Park (October 6) to finish the championship's most competitive season to date third in the standings. Following a breathless two-hour battle with title rivals Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam in the factory-prepared Beechdean Aston Martin V12 Vantage, Bryant and Attard could take great heart from a very competitive showing in what has become Europe's most hotly contested Pro-Am GT series.
Ahead of the Donington meeting Ecosse’s drivers sat just half a point behind championship leader Howard, though with a total of six pairings able to snatch the crown it was always going to be a tough fight.
As such it was key to qualify ahead of the opposition and Bryant achieved this with an excellent 1m28.76s lap that placed him third – ahead of all the team's championship rivals.
Sunday's race took place in front of packed grandstands and live TV coverage, making for an electric atmosphere. Ecosse's own Alasdair McCaig played the bagpipes on the grid and the Barwell Motorsport-prepared BMW looked stunning, supported by a full garage of sponsors, friends and family.
Attard made an excellent start, maintaining his grid position into Redgate before being passed by Gary Eastwood's Ferrari 458 on lap two. He then held fourth until an early-race safety car was deployed to recover the spun Porsche of David Ashburn. Shortly after racing resumed the V12 power of Howard's Beechdean Aston showed as he passed the Ecosse BMW down the start-finish straight following several laps of robust defending from Attard. Shortly after Mark Patterson's Audi also made it through, both the Ferrari and Audi benefitting from recent engine restrictor increases, leaving the BMW to suffer by comparison in a straight line. Undeterred, Attard kept Howard firmly in sight until the pit-stops.
50 minutes into the race the Ecosse BMW was serviced with fuel and tyres as the Barwell crew carried out a perfect stop and sent Bryant on his way. Unfortunately during his out-lap Bryant's pace was hampered by the Ferrari of Eastwood, which was yet to stop. This cost the Ecosse BMW vital time and a lap later, as Bryant crossed the start finish-line, the Beechdean Aston of Adam left the pits just seconds in front.
This was a critical blow as the plan had been for the Ecosse BMW to circulate quickly in clean air for three laps and jump Adam in the pits. This hadn't worked out due to the Aston stopping earlier than expected and the traffic on the BMW's out-lap. Bryant now set about trying to make a pass, exploiting the BMW's strength in the high-speed sections but unable to match the powerful Aston in the final sector where the passing opportunities are found. For his part Adam drove brilliantly, and while Bryant attacked with persistence lap after lap, he eventually crossed the line just two seconds shy after 120 minutes of flat-out racing.
Although disappointed not to win the title after such a strong season the team was nevertheless pleased to finish third, giving Ecurie Ecosse their second championship podium after taking the same position in the European Le Mans Series GTC standings.
Marco Attard: “It was a great weekend except for the fact that we were out-powered by the Aston Martin. We have had an excellent driver pairing all season and with Barwell and [engineer] Adam Hardy we were up at the front from race one. Everyone has done a great job and let's hope for more next time. Well done all!”
Oliver Bryant: “2013 was the most competitive season in the history of British GT, so to challenge for the title aboard the Ecurie Ecosse BMW was a privilege. It was fantastic working with Barwell Motorsport, Adam Hardy and Marco, who has developed to become one of the quickest amateur drivers in the series. We won the best race of the year, the 3-hour at Silverstone where there was a 49-car grid, and took podiums at Oulton Park and Brands Hatch. All that has combined to make it a very rewarding season, despite missing out on the title by just 3.5 points – or two seconds! We'll be back for sure.”
Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal : “2013 has been an epic season for British GT, with more quality teams and top-line drivers than any previous year, so to come away with third in the championship is a great achievement for Marco and Olly. I would like to thank our loyal sponsors and supporters, as well as our ultra hard-working and professional Barwell crew, headed up by Chris Weeden. We will be back to fight on in 2014.”