07 April, 2015
The start of the 2015 British GT Championship didn’t go quite according to plan for Matt Bell when the Aldermore-backed racer didn’t even get to jump into his Aston Martin on race day!
In the build up to the Easter opener at Oulton Park, Matt and his new team mate Derek Johnston had worked hard to get the No.17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 set up for the race and the lap times from both drivers suggested that they would have a successful weekend ahead of them.
Matt qualified in seventh place for the start of race two, while Derek bagged 10th place on the grid for race one.
“Qualifying was a bit puzzling as we just didn’t manage to get the front tyres to work,” said Matt. “It was frustrating as Derek had been the fastest of the ‘AM’ drivers during the previous practice session but we had to settle for seventh and 10th as we had chronic understeer. We know how to solve this for future events though so this was just a blip.”
The confidence Matt had in his new team mate’s performance was justified because as soon as race one got underway his pace become very apparent.
When the lights went green at lunchtime on Bank Holiday Monday, Johnston got a storming start and set off after the cars in front. At a track that is notoriously tough to overtake on he made great progress all the way up to fourth place before an overly-ambitious move by Alistair MacKinnon in a Mercedes SLS AMG tipped the Aston Martin into a spin.
Following close behind were the BMW Z4s of Marco Attard and Jon Minshaw. To avoid the accident Attard stamped on the brakes, which sent Minshaw into the back of Attard, whose BMW spun into the prone Aston Martin of Johnston. The resulting damage ended not only race one for Matt and Derek but also put them out of the second race later in the day.
“This all happened on the short straight after turn one, just before the kink,” explained Matt. “It’s not usually an overtaking spot but the Mercedes went for it and now we all know for sure that it’s definitely not a good overtaking spot!
“It’s a real shame that I didn’t get to race today but I’m very encouraged by our pace and now I’ve had the opportunity to get to know my team mate I think we are in for a good season. Derek is a very patient driver who bides his time and picks his moment, which results in a very mature drive. The TF Sport guys worked really well and everything gelled together beautifully. Everyone showed their colours this weekend and I think we have a bright future ahead of us!”