Rockingham Goes Down Like a Wet Weekend
Hale-based racing driver, Michael Bentwood, had a frustrating weekend in the torrential rain at Rockingham in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship (24-25 May).
The former BTCC driver had initially been delighted with how the Aston Martin DBRS9 was performing round the unusual Rockingham layout. The circuit doesn’t usually doesn’t favour the front-engined V12 racer and so expectations were low before the weekend. Then In free practice the Aston was quickest and expectations for the weekend grew. Unfortunately from then on the heavens opened and a series of near biblical showers soaked the circuit. In these conditions qualifying was next to impossible, with the very wide rear tyres and mechanical layout of the car making it virtually impossible to get the power down.
Having qualified 18th, Bentwood and co-driver Adrian Willmott didn’t expect a great deal, but an excellent first stint from Willmott meant he pitted 8th. Stirling pit work from the 22GT Racing technicians got Bentwood out in 5th, and this was the position the ex-F3 star held until virtually the end. Almost at the chequered flag, Oliver Bryant in the Dodge Viper overtook the DBRS9, but at a circuit where the Viper has usually proved quicker, Bentwood was powerless to prevent it.
In the Monday race the track was predominantly dry but with some rain, Bentwood started out on slicks but as the rain started to really come down, the Aston proved undriveable. Bentwood dived into the pits for wets but almost as soon as he was circulating again, the weather turned once more, the rain eased and the track dried out. Disastrously this meant the Cheshire-born driver had to dive back into the pits to get back onto slicks, irritatingly for Bentwood he then set the second fastest time of the day. The final pitstop was to install Wilmott in the hotseat and with a good drive he managed to bring the car home 13th, despite the plethora of pit stops.
Following a mixed weekend and the news that the team’s first podium had been retrospectively declared void, Bentwood commented: “We hadn’t expected much from Rockingham because the Aston was really not happy here last year on the tight in-field section. We were expecting a mediocre result, so when we were quick in the dry we were delighted. Unfortunately, the wet weather performance was a totally different story and no matter what we did with set-up, it didn’t improve. The Avon engineers have said they will look at changing the design of our rear wet tyre, as it doesn’t seem to work as well as some of the mid-engined cars.”
Commenting on the team’s now void Knockhill result, Bentwood said: “We are gutted about our dropped result. Adrian overtook under yellow flags, of that there is no doubt, we know the rules and we respect them. However, at the time he firmly believed the Aston Martin N24 from the class below was breaking down and moving aside to let him past, therefore the penalty seems overly severe.”
Bentwood will next be in action on the 7th and 8th of June at the ultra-fast Snetterton circuit near Norwich.
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