Oliver Bryant Racing

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23rd October 2014

Fifth At Blancpain Endurance Series Finale Nets Ecurie Ecosse Third in Pro-Am Championships

Ecurie Ecosse Powered By Black Bull rounded off their fantastically successful 2014 campaign by claiming third place in both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Blancpain Endurance Series Pro-Am championships after finishing fifth at a rain-hit Nurburgring on September 20/21.

Alasdair McCaig, Andrew Smith and Olly Bryant all excelled in the treacherous weather conditions to bring the Barwell Motorsport-run #79 BMW Z4 GT3 home fifth in class and 11th overall, while also maintaining their 100% points-scoring record in the series.

The only frustration was not to have finished one place higher in the final Drivers’ standings after two Ferrari rivals – who were formerly team-mates – doubled their chances by splitting for the final round, which subsequently helped them end the season first and second overall.

Nevertheless, the legendary Scottish squad could still be satisfied to finish on a high note after also claiming the British GT Drivers’ crown seven days earlier.

The Eifel region’s fickle weather played havoc with qualifying strategy on Saturday when Bryant, traditionally the team’s fastest driver, was unable to improve upon Smith’s previous benchmark after a sudden downpour struck towards the end of the session just before he took the wheel.

That saw Smith line up 10th in class for Sunday’s six-hour/1000km race, the first 15 minutes of which was run behind the Safety Car due to a combination of heavy rain, spray and fog.

Conditions had barely improved by the time racing began in earnest, and Smith performed admirably to keep the car on-track while some of those around him had excursions. He was still up against many of the Pro-Am teams’ professional drivers though and, after completing his two-hour double stint, handed the car over to Bryant 11th in class.

Having opted against fresh tyres and saved 25 seconds in the process, Olly was soon revelling in the conditions and frequently found himself amongst the fastest cars on track. His pace was good enough to move up to eighth in Pro-Am by mid-distance when a second Safety Car period offered the opportunity for an earlier-than-planned fuel-only stop. His progress then remained rapid over the following hour and had moved the BMW up to sixth in class by the time McCaig was ready to climb aboard for the final third.

Much of the Scot’s opening hour passed by without drama, but as the track began to dry so thoughts turned to a possible change of tyres. Despite seeing a number of Pro Cup entries initially try and fail, and even a short shower causing additional head-scratching, McCaig and the team made the bold decision to fit slicks at the final stop.

It worked, albeit a little too well when Alasdair – along with eight others – picked up a drive-through penalty for unintentionally setting the car’s fastest first sector time of the race under yellow flags. That dropped the BMW from fourth to sixth in class, before McCaig atoned for his unfortunate error by lapping as fast as the leaders in the greasy conditions before ultimately claiming fifth.

Alasdair McCaig: “The Nurburgring was a great way to end a fantastic season. We managed to produce a good result after a very tricky qualifying session and then battling through the treacherous conditions during the race. This season’s results are a true testament to the teamwork demonstrated by the Ecurie Ecosse and Barwell Motorsport partnership.”

Andrew Smith: “To finish third in what is arguably the world’s toughest GT championship – and on an extremely tight budget raised primarily from sponsorship – while outperforming so many of the mighty factory teams is nothing short of outstanding. I feel very proud and privileged to have been part of it all and to add another successful chapter to the Ecurie Ecosse story. We are extremely grateful to the amazing team at Barwell Motorsport and our loyal sponsors, without whom we couldn’t have achieved this.”

Oliver Bryant: “That was a tough race in very tricky conditions! As usual the team did a great job with the car, pit-stops and strategy, and we came through the order to score yet another excellent result. Andrew did well to bring the car through the carnage at the start and Alasdair’s final stint was spot-on in changeable conditions as the track dried. I enjoyed my double stint in the wet and pushed hard to move the car up the order. A good end to a great season.”

Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “To have achieved this result in what is the world’s premier endurance GT Pro-Am championship, and against such quality opposition, is testament to all of the hard work, passion and belief that makes this group of people so special. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved! A special thank you to BMW Motorsport for being such great partners and to Alexander Sims for his immense contribution at the 24 Hours of Spa.”

Euan Shand, Black Bull Whisky: “Firstly, I would like to congratulate the whole Ecurie Ecosse Powered By Black Bull team on their success in the British GT Championship. It was a rollercoaster ride, but also brilliant that Black Bull contributed towards the team’s success as title sponsor. We set out to win this year’s championship and Ecurie Ecosse delivered accordingly. I’ve been lucky enough to attend quite a few British GT rounds this season and have had a number of people asking if the BMW runs on our whisky! It’s fantastic that Black Bull is achieving wider recognition amongst fans and within the paddock, as well as across the UK in general.

“Likewise, the guys performed superbly well in this year’s Blancpain Endurance Series. There are plenty of very competitive drivers and teams in the championship who didn’t make life easy, so to end the season third was no mean feat. My personal highlight of the season was the 24 Hours of Spa, which was simply fantastic. To see the Black Bull-liveried BMW score a podium finish after a full day’s racing was truly exceptional.”

iRacing.com Nurburgring 1000 – Pro-Am Top 10
1. TDS Racing / BMW Z4 GT3 / Catsburg/Hassid
2. Black Falcon / Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 / Modell/Fjordbach/Lunkin
3. Scuderia Villorba Corse / Ferrari 458 Italia / Kemenater/Gai/Rizzoli
4. Leonard Motorsport AMR / Aston Martin Vantage GT3 / Wilson/Leonard/Meadows
5. Ecurie Ecosse / BMW Z4 GT3 / McCaig/Smith/Bryant
6. Nissan GT Academy Team RJN / Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 / Reip/Faisca/Chiyo
7. MP Motorsport AMR / Aston Martin Vantage / Osborne/Abra/Poole
8. AF Corse / Ferrari 458 Italia / Laursen/Seefried/Castellacci
9. TDS Racing / BMW Z4 GT3 / Clemet/Lariche/Armindo
9. Kessel Racing / Ferrari 458 Italia / Broniszewski/Bonacini/Frezza

Blancpain Endurance Series – Final Pro-Am Drivers’ Championship Top 10
1. Rizzoli/Gai / Scuderia Villorba Ferrari 458 Italia / 96 points
2. Castellacci / Scuderia Villorba/AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia / 81
3. Bryant/Smith/McCaig / Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 / 77
4. Hassid/Catsburg / TDS Racing BMW Z4 GT3 / 72
5. Abra/Poole/Osborne / MP Motorsport AMR Aston Martin Vantage / 51
6. Comandini/Amos / ROAL Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 / 41
7. Sims / Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 / 39
8. McMillen/Strauss/Buncombe / Nissan GT Academy Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 / 38
9. Hommerson/Machiels/Bertolini/Cioci / AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia / 31
9. Montermini / Scuderia Villorba Ferrari 458 Italia / 31
10. Danyliw/Knap/Sorvico / AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia / 27

Blancpain Endurance Series – Final Pro-Am Teams’ Championship Top 10
1. Scuderia Villorba Corse / 98 points
2. TDS Racing / 95
3. Ecurie Ecosse / 77
4. AF Corse / 65
4. Nissan GT Academy Team RJN / 65
5. MP Motorsport AMR / 56
6. ROAL Motorsport / 41
7. Pro GT By Almeras / 28
8. Black Falcon / 27
9. Leonard Motorsport AMR / 19
10. Sport Garage / 14