The race winning Porsche 997 of David Ashburn & Nick Tandy. Photo:

The #31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R of David Ashburn and Nick Tandy made a perfect return in the penultimate round of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship with victory in GT3 whilst Beechdean AMR enjoyed a strong GT4 victory for Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings in the #407 Aston after a tense and fast-paced two-hour race at Brands Hatch on Sunday.

A crisp final day of August saw a mix of blue skies and clouds to frame a well-attended event at the Kent circuit, which looked set for a Trackspeed 1-2 with the #63 Porsche of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen leading late on till a puncture curtailed their charge.

The #31 had been playing a faithful support act for the championship aspirations of Minshaw and Keen with the return of Porsche factory driver Tandy and Ashburn – who turns 67 later this week – drafted in to the vacated car previously inhabited by now Triple Eight ensconced Jody Firth and Warren Hughes. With the sister #63 out of contention – and finishing an eventual ninth – Tandy was unleashed for the win.

Behind the Tandy/Ashburn combo the Motorbase Aston Martins took a close race finish at their home circuit, with the #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine edging second ahead of the #5 Aston of Rory Butcher and Jeff Smith. For his stint in the car Smith was awarded the prestigious Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend Award.

In GT4, the #407 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Wylie and Giddings fared much better than the sister #1 car – which had brake issues – with the #407 duo taking a comfortable class victory ahead of GT4 Championship rivals Devon Modell and Andrew Jarman of the TF Sport #49 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge.

Third place in GT4 class went to late movers Jamie Stanley and Paul McNeilly of the #48 Fox Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4, delivering McNeilly a home race podium following the late expiration of the #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta’s charge of Aleksander Schjerpen and Morten Dons. Fourth was taken by an impressive drive from the #44 Team Parker Porsche of Barrie Baxter and Dan Cammish.

In was a tough race day for the #1 Aston of reigning champions Beechdean which saw race starter Andrew Howard drop down the order from the off, with brake issues having forced the squad to miss the morning warm-up session still blighting the Beechdean car such that Howard was falling fast through the order, his potential for a back-to-back title evaporating in front of him. Team-mate Jonny Adam was unable to arrest the rot with the car crossing the finish line out of the points in P16 and subsequently receiving a drop of three places for Donington as well as the loss of nine championship points for both drivers for contact Howard made with the Triple Eight car of Derek Johnston. Howard also received three penalty points on his licence.

Elsewhere, the combination of Colin White and Tom Sharp seemed rejuvenated in their new Aston Martin berth with White running strongly at the upper end of the top ten at the start of the race until making contact when lapping Jeff Wyatt in the Geoff Steel / Declan Jones BMW M3 GT4 the result of which was retirement for both cars.

The solo Bentley at Brands Hatch, the #17 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 of Humaid Al Masaoud and Steven Kane also had a tough race, with Kane coming to a stop in the third sector due to a gearbox problem.

A new look Triple Eight came to Brands Hatch with three BMW Z4 GT3s, and while the #88 BMW Z4 GT3 of Ryan Ratcliffe and Lee Mowle took a strong top ten finish on their first outing together, the #888 of Derek Johnston and Joe Osborne were involved in contact that ended their race, with the #8 of Jody Firth and Warren Hughes succumbing to an issue on their out lap following the mandatory pit stop.

Heading to the season finale at Donington Park on September 13-14, #79 Ecurie Ecosse driver Marco Attard enjoys a commanding lead in the GT3 Drivers Championship with 148.5 points from team-mate Alexander Sims on 129.5, with only the driver combo of the #4 Oman Racing Team Aston of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine able to beat him.

In the GT4 Drivers Championship it’s a straight title battle between the #407 driver combo of Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie and the #49 TF Sport pairing of Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell. Teams-wise, in both classes it’s a three-way fight; in GT3 between Oman Racing Team (160.5), Ecurie Ecosse (148.5) and Trackspeed (133.5) and in GT4 Beechdean AMR (192.5), Century Motorsport (179) and TF Sport (163) are slogging it out.

In the prestigious Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy, Marco Attard has stretched his lead to 163.5 points from Andrew Howard’s 133.5 with Jon Minshaw on 95.

The season finale of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship plays out at Leicestershire’s Donington Park circuit with on the weekend of September 13-14, with qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.

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