Oliver Bryant Racing

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30th September 2012

Late heartbreak for Ecurie Ecosse in British GT Finale

Ecurie Ecosse came within 10 minutes of sealing this year’s British GT title at Donington Park on Sunday (September 30) only for a late penalty to dash their hopes of glory.

Following a two-month injury lay-off, the Scottish outfit welcomed Oliver Bryant back to their Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 for the winner-takes-all season finale. Bryant re-joined Alasdair McCaig in the #79 machine as the Scot looked to seal the fiercely contested championship crown at his first attempt.

Taking the start in P6, McCaig quickly gained a spot as the field ran down to the Melbourne hairpin, but contact from behind whilst making an attempt for fifth pushed him wide and dropped the Z4 back three places.

McCaig wasted no time climbing back to seventh but then spent five laps behind the Trackspeed Porsche of David Ashburn, allowing title rivals Alex Buncombe and Jann Mardenborough in their RJN Nissan and the Motorbase Porsche of Daniele Perfetti and Michael Caine to escape out front.

After overhauling the Trackspeed machine for P6, McCaig was able to lap quickly and consistently for the remainder of his 55-minute spell aboard the Z4, following which the Barwell crew delivered a typically swift pit-stop. Bryant then climbed aboard for the crucial final stint in P9.

Ecosse received a boost as the leading RJN Nissan suffered suspension failure, eliminating one of their chief title rivals and promoting Bryant to eighth. This became seventh on the same lap as he surged past the Trackspeed car.

The championship battle had now become a three-way tussle between McCaig, the Perfetti/Caine Porsche which ran second and the MTECH Ferrari of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin in fourth.

A safety car period further aided the Ecosse cause, allowing Bryant to take the restart right on Griffin’s tail. With Caine P2 Bryant’s mission was clear: if he could overhaul the Ferrari and the race finished in that order, McCaig would be tied on points with the Porsche crew and win the championship by virtue of scoring more race
wins during the season.

With 20 minutes remaining Griffin and Bryant found themselves behind the Preci-Spark Mercedes, but before the Ecosse man could use this to his advantage Griffin dived down the inside at Melbourne. With the Mercedes slow on the exit, Bryant got a good run down towards the next hairpin. Aware that passing Griffin was vital, Bryant successfully out-braked the Preci-Spark car. Unfortunately the MTECH Ferrari ran deep into the corner and appeared unusually slow on the apex meaning the Z4 just clipped the Ferrari’s rear, spinning it around and dropping Griffin down the order.

Bryant was able to continue and now had the Ecosse car in a title-winning position. However, it was quickly apparent that the team could be in line for a penalty following the incident, making for a tense atmosphere in the Ecosse pits. Unfortunately the #79 was awarded a one-minute time penalty in order to drop him back behind the Griffin/Cameron car, ending the team’s valiant championship charge.

Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “We’ve had a great first season with the BMW Z4 GT3. The car has been bulletproof, as has our crew, and it’s been a pleasure running Olly and Al who put together a really strong championship run. I would also like to mention the contribution made by Ollies two and three, Millroy and
Hancock, whose great cameo appearances kept Al’s title push alive when Olly Bryant was out injured. Taking the title fight down to the last 10 minutes of the final race demonstrates the passion, spirit and professionalism that make this team what it is.”

Alasdair McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “I got a great start and made up places in the first few corners only to lose out when I was hit from the rear entering the Melbourne loop. From there I got my head down to gain lost ground and fought my way back through the pack to bring the car in sixth at the half-way mark. Olly did a fantastic job in the second portion of the race and the incident with the MTECH Ferrari was unfortunate. I have had a great year in my debut season of British GT and I will take that knowledge and experience into 2013. Barwell have been instrumental in the smooth running of our campaign and have helped me hugely in gaining GT experience.”

Oliver Bryant, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “As ever, the team did a great job with the pit-stop and I set off after our championship rivals. The safety car really helped us and I was pushing as hard as possible to catch the MTECH Ferrari. Unfortunately when we both passed the Mercedes I got caught out by where Matt braked and ran into the back of him. There was nothing I could do: we had to serve the one-minute penalty and our challenge was over. Taking the positives, the car was really quick and I was straight back on the pace after two-months away. I’d like to thank my Ecurie Ecosse team-mates for being so supportive and Barwell for producing a faultless car all season. Now it’s time to think about next year and continuing the good work.”

While the team can now begin plotting their assault on the 2013 British GT championship, the Ecurie Ecosse Blancpain Endurance Series crew of Andrew Smith, Joe Twyman and Ollie Millroy will contest the final round of their programme at Circuito de Navarra next month (October 14). The Scottish outfit will hope to bring the curtain down on their sterling comeback campaign with a strong run at the Spanish event.