Oliver Bryant Racing

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19th July 2007

Oliver Bryant is robbed of a podium at Snetterton

The sunshine was beating down at Snetterton for the first two-hour race of the 2007 British GT season and Matt Harris and Oliver Bryant were looking to get their title challenge back on track in the #9 Tech 9 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup.

Saturday’s qualifying session saw the Porsche well in contention, but with a peculiar handling imbalance the ultimate pace was not quite there: the #9 car would start from 11th place on the grid for Sunday’s race.


After much head scratching the team had made some changes overnight to the set-up of the 997 and Matt Harris (right) pronounced himself well pleased, after the brief, Sunday morning, warm-up session:

“It’s the best it’s been all weekend, we’re right on the pace at last and with a two hour race our starting position is less important than usual.”

That was a perfectly sensible assessment, but as things would turn out, the provisional 11th place start position would be substantially improved: several major players failed to leave the pit lane before the allotted time.

As the field came through the chicane to take the rolling start Matt Harris was well positioned to make even further progress, the #9 car taking the inside line into the first turn as he made a move on the two Porsches immediately ahead.

Momentarily there were three Porsche 997s alongside each other as Riches corner approached, but that changed immediately as ahead of the Porsche pack, Phil Burton’s VRS Ferrari was tapped into a spin by an Aston Martin: one of the Porsches spun in avoidance, together with a Lamborghini, but in one of those moments of racing luck “a Porsche sized gap appeared right in front of me.” Harris blasted out of the corner unscathed and in an incredible fifth place!

He wasn’t done yet though, the Porsche closed right in on Tom Alexander’s Aston Martin ahead and looked set to grab yet another position in the very early laps.

This time though luck was against Matt Harris: as he moved in to take the position around the outside of the big Aston the Porsche ran wide, losing grip and momentum and that was all it took to put Harris back into the clutches of the recovering pack behind.

But that set the scene for a fabulous scrap over positions 4 through to 9 which continued for lap after lap. However, the Tech 9 car didn’t get the best of it as the very quick, but delayed, Ferrari and Lamborghini made their moves.

Lap 9 and Tech 9’s #9 997 was………..9th.

From that point though a second climb up the order was about to begin

Eighth place came courtesy of a spinning Viper, and next on the agenda was the Aston Martin that Harris had challenged earlier for fourth place. He would make no mistake second time around, seventh place was his and he pulled away from the Aston.

53 minutes gone and the safety car appeared to close up the field: debris on the track needed to be recovered and almost the whole field headed for the pits. With almost 50% of the race already run it was almost the ideal time in any case to effect the required driver change.

Harris pitted from a strong sixth place and as Oliver Bryant took over the wheel of the #9 machine, the Tech 9 crew went to work.

Piers Masarati and his Tech 9 boys turned around the Porsche brilliantly with a marvellous pitstop. “Four tyres in 24 seconds – made some of the other teams look like amateur hour.” Olly Bryant emerged effectively in fifth position.

That became fourth as one of the Aston Martins was penalised with a drive through penalty (after overtaking another car under yellow flags). Bryant was charging hard now, posting the fastest lap times for the car of the race so far, and closing in on the third placed Preci-Spark Ascari – a podium looked a very good bet.

But cruelly, as soon as that prospect presented itself, it was snatched away: yellow flags at the first turn were the first sign that several cars had hit a large fluid spillage, but it was a little while longer before it became apparent that the fluid had come from Olly Bryant’s Tech 9 Porsche, a split coolant hose the culprit.

The leading Mosler then retired after a hug failure, this would have possibly placed the Porsche in second place!

Bryant and Harris looked on in utter disbelief as the car was pushed into the garage, their race run, after a real battle had looked set to reward them with a big points haul.

They’ll have to wait until next month and Brands Hatch’s famous Grand Prix circuit to take the fight back to the rest of the British GT field. They’ve had some miserable luck so far this season.