Soham racing star Sims extends Avon Tyres British GT Championship lead with thrilling Brands Hatch win
- Credit: Archant
Soham racing driver Alexander Sims and Marco Attard prevailed for the second time in 2015 after a thrilling round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Brands Hatch.
The championship leaders, who represent Ecurie Ecosse, extended their points advantage but only after just emerging on top of a ding-dong battle with Triple Eight Racing’s Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne.
The two BMW Z4 GT3s were inseparable over the final half-an-hour after a second Safety Car period brought Sims into contention.
Fans basking in the Kent sunshine were treated to an enthralling encounter characterised by Sims’ pursuit of Osborne over the closing stages.
A strong opening stint from Mowle had kept the Triple Eight Z4 a close second to Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and emerged from its mandatory driver change with the net lead thanks to the Aston Martin’s 20-second success penalty for winning at Spa.
Osborne was followed closely out of the pits by Rory Butcher whose Oman Racing Team co-driver Liam Griffin had moved the V12 Vantage up two places during his opening stint.
But with the second Barwell Motorsport BMW of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen also incurring a success penalty, the way was left clear for Sims to set off in pursuit of the leaders following Attard’s opening gambit.
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A string of fast laps – the quickest smashing the existing GT3 lap record – helped him reduce the gap to under 10 seconds before the afternoon’s second Safety Car period made the task a whole lot easier.
And racing had not long resumed when he pushed past Butcher at Graham Hill Bend before going off after Osborne who had established a 4.4 second advantage.
The pair were soon together but Osborne wasn’t going anywhere, time and again positioning his BMW perfectly to protect the lead. Indeed, with the gap between them never more than four tenths – and frequently much less – it was only the Triple Eight driver’s defensive performance that kept the white Z4 ahead.
But Sims wasn’t to be denied and when Osborne strayed slightly wide on oil after lapping traffic exiting Graham Hill Bend, the Ecurie Ecosse Beemer had just enough of a sniff up the inside to make the move stick along Cooper Straight. Less than 10 minutes later he took the chequered flag 3.6 seconds clear.
Sims picked up the Sunoco Fastest Lap of the Weekend Award for his efforts while the Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend prize went to Mowle for his opening stint and qualifying performance.
Meanwhile, the Ecurie Ecosse duo’s victory sees them extend their championship lead to 34 points.
Sims said: “That was the race of the season for me. There was so much ducking and diving in that first stint that Marco playing it a little bit safe was probably the right thing to do. He did a good job to keep the car out of trouble.
“Then there was a Safety Car early in my stint, which worked out for us.
“Maybe I’d have eventually caught Joe but wouldn’t have had many laps left to pass. And my God I needed them! Racing so closely with him and Rory was really good.
“Fortunately I managed to capitalise on Joe slipping on oil. We had the pace this weekend, which wasn’t expected actually.
“The team has done a superb job and the car’s been lovely to drive all weekend. Pole in my qualifying session, fastest lap and victory is testament to that.”
The next round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship takes place at Snetterton on August 22-23.