Bentwood is Cruelly Denied a Stunning Individual Victory

Cheshire-based GT Driver, Michael Bentwood, had to take the unprecedented step of retiring his fully functioning Aston Martin from the lead of the Silverstone round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

The weekend had started well for the 22GT racing team and they had spent a great deal of time preparing for the weekend. Early indications were that the Aston Martin DBRS9 could be competitive at Silverstone. Unfortunately, out of the blue, team owner and telecoms impresario, Tom Alexander received a phone call and immediately had to return home due to a family emergency.

Initial indications were that Tom might be able to return in time for the race and so the team continued with preparations. Bentwood found the Aston was tending towards oversteer at Silverstone and all normal countermeasures were having little effect. The consensus seemed to be that the F1 cars had polished the surface and the massive braking forces had rippled the approaches to the corners. Despite adjusting the DBRS9’s enormous rear wing to maximum, Bentwood was still suffering oversteer, but managed to set a time good enough for fourth on the grid.

On the morning of the two-hour race, Bentwood was unable to contact Alexander and a frantic search started for an alternative driver. Feeling that it was unlikely that the other teams would give their required agreement for ex-BTCC and F3 driver Betnwood to race with another A-grade driver, he investigated other options. Two B-grade, non-professional drivers were available, in the shape of Oliver Bryant and fellow ex-Barwell Aston driver Leo Machitski. Neither could arrange their own insurance, and with Bentwood unable to contact his broker, he had no choice but to start the race alone.

Bentwood took to the track, despite knowing that British GT rules dictate that he was only able to contest up to 90 minutes of the two-hour race. Even though he knew he was definitely going to have to retire at three quarters race distance, Bentwood wanted to show how effective the 22GT racing team’s preparations had been.

Right from the start, Bentwood surged up to third and shortly afterwards passed the Jones brother’s Ascari KZ1R to take second. The racing that followed this was more akin to a touring car race than an endurance race, with Bentwood entering a titanic tussle with the Dodge Viper of Craig Jones. The two cars were nose to tail, engaged in a close but fair battle lap after lap. Bentwood was perpetually on the point of passing at Brooklands where Jones was struggling, only for the 8.3 litre Viper to pull back ahead on the straights.

After many laps of close racing, the Team Trimite Viper passed Bentwood and was parked up behind the other Viper. Shortly after passing the White Viper missed a braking point and piled into the back of the lead Viper. This damaged the Trimite Viper’s bodywork, pushing it onto the tyre, leading to an inevitable puncture once friction had removed kilos of rubber and produced clouds of smoke. Restored to his place behind Jones, Bentwood made another passing attempt at Brooklands and this time made it stick. Having passed Jones, the ex-single seater ace pushed home his advantage, pulling out a 10 second lead in the process. After excellent pit work from the 22GT racing team, Bentwood came back out in the lead and continued towards his inevitable retirement.

At just before the 90 minute mark, Bentwood pulled the Aston sadly into the pits to retire. This was the second time this season he has brought a car into the pits into the lead, only for circumstances to rob him of victory. Afterwards, he commented: “That was the strangest race of my career, to be leading with a perfectly functional car and have to drive into the pits was the hardest thing I have ever done. The team did a great job and I was just sorry we couldn’t finish the job! The most frustrating thing is that we found out on Monday that Leo or Oliver would have been covered under our insurance and could have driven, this probably hurt more than anything!”

He went on to add: “I was in the garage after the race when Craig Jones came in to talk to me. I wondered if he was upset at me passing him, but he had actually come to thank me for a great battle, which he had enjoyed and appreciated my fair approach. I was really impressed by him coming up to me and saying that, it shows great sportsmanship on his part.”

The 22GT racing team will be able to put all their hard work into action at the finale of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, when they visit Donington for another two hour, mini-endurance race.

More information on this event will appear soon.

Check back closer to the event date for an update.

Thank you for your interest in 22GT Racing.

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