Pole Position in Thruxton Thriller
Hale-based racing driver. Michael Bentwood showed his true class at Thruxton in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, putting the 22GT Racing Aston Martin DBRS9 into a convincing pole position.
The weekend had started well for the former BTCC racer, with the Aston Martin appearing far more competitive around on the ultra-fast and abrasive Thruxton circuit. Qualifying saw Bentwood pushing hard, and his first flying lap was a 1:16.4, which was looked to be second or third on the grid. After a radio conversation with the team it was decided to cool the car down for a lap before attempting another flyer. Buoyed by the first attempt, Bentwood gave it everything and posted the only sub 1:16 qualifying lap to put him on pole.
Bentwood’s team mate, Tom Alexander had qualified for race one on the Saturday and put the pair 14th as he continues to recover from pneumonia. The Telecoms supremo then put in a solid drive through the first half of race one, pulling the car up to eighth before handing over to Bentwood. The former F3 racer had the bit between his teeth and set about pushing the six-litre V12 machine through the order. Despite his best efforts, Bentwood could get no higher than fifth, with determined touring car racer, Adam Jones, putting up a determined but fair defence, to prevent Bentwood passing.
Sunday’s race was the main event for Bentwood with his pole position being a huge bonus in a so far difficult season. Drivers had been warned after some unusually bad driving in race one and the race director was insistent on a perfect formation for the rolling start. When this didn’t happen the cars were sent round again for an ultimately successful second attempt. Bentwood held his nerve and was into the first corner at the head of the pack.
Almost immediately after the race start, Danish endurance professional, Allan Simmonsen, tried a ludicrously hopeful pass into the complex, alongside the ultra-wide Aston. Bentwood held his line to avoid the huge and potentially tyre bursting Thruxton kerbs and the Ferrari of the Christians in Motorsport team ended up second best. Unfortunately a Dodge Viper passed in the melee, relegating the 22GT racing car down to second. After battling the Viper for a while, the race was suspended after a huge crash for Bradley Ellis. Once the incident had been resolved, the race was restarted from the grid.
Bentwood fought hard with the eight litre V10 Viper, until eventually the big American car was called in by the race scrutineers to replace loose bodywork. Bentwood held the lead and handed over to his team-mate with just 4 minutes to go, by virtue of the red flag incident. Alexander held the lead for two laps, but was unfortunate to spin on the penultimate lap, when the heavily worn tyres caught him out. After the car came in a creditable eighth, a frustrated Bentwood commented:
“It is hugely disappointing to lose out after such a positive weekend, but at least we have shown that as a team 22GT racing can get a car working at its best. I was delighted to score my first pole position of the season and we got within a few hundred meters of our first victory this year. Tom was unfortunate to spin, but with Thruxton being a very fast and hugely abrasive surface, the tyres were as you would expect, not at their best. We were also a little disappointed with race one, we could have finished higher, but I must give credit to Adam Jones who fought tenaciously, but fairly to keep me behind.”
Bentwood will next be in action at Brands Hatch on the 12th/13th July.
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