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Final Stop Timing Cost “Competitive” Beechdean Aston

Beechdean pace goes unrewarded at Imola as timing of final pit stop costs likely podium…

Photo: Jules Benichou/21 Creation

The timing of a pit stop under safety car conditions ultimately hampered Beechdeam AMR’s competitive run at the 3 Hours of Imola, according to Aston Martin Racing’s Head of Performance Gustavo Beteli.

Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Maxime Martin were vying for the overall win at the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season-opener until their No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 tumbled out of the points after its final stop.

Beteli explained that a “mistake with the calculations” resulted in the Aston pitting one lap later than the other front-runners.

Sorensen was running second when the third Ful Course Yellow of the race occurred a few minutes after the halfway point.

An incident during the safety car then prolonged the interruption so that it overlapped with the pit window at the top of the final hour.

The extent of the debris where CMR’s Bentley Continental GT3 struck the rear of Leipert Motorsport’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo required the safety car train to slow down significantly through the accident site.

Most Pro cars pitted on lap 59, however Beechdean AMR and several other teams including Silver Cup class leader Attempto Racing elected to keep their drivers out for a further lap behind the safety car.

This proved to be costly because the earlier pitters emerged free from the safety car train and were therefore able to gain significant ground over those who had waited to come in.

The Aston Martin fell down to 20th, while Martin delivered a strong final stint to recover eight positions.

“The race and the speed were really good,” Beteli told Sportscar365.

“We had a good first stop and managed to undercut the No. 88 Mercedes and then jumped to second place.

“At the last stop, the safety car had come out. We could have boxed but we just made a mistake with the calculations.

“The problem was the safety car could have gone faster but it was driving really slow around the accident and we just missed the opportunity. We had to box the lap after, and that was it.

“Whoever boxed on the first lap then had a fast lap to catch the train again, so by the time we boxed on the second lap we just lost track position.”

Some teams felt the need to pit on the later lap due to concerns about having enough fuel to reach the checkered flag without taking a costly splash if the race remained green through the final hour, although a fourth FCY of the day put paid to that notion. 

“A factor was not having enough [fuel] because the consumption was really high here, being this cold,” Beteli said.

“We couldn’t have done 65 minutes, so [fuel] was a consideration. But when you go behind the safety car, you save fuel anyway. So we would have had enough.”

Despite losing a likely podium result, Beteli assessed that Beechdean AMR could be satisfied with its performance at Imola, which marked the start of the first full-season Aston Martin campaign in the Endurance Cup Pro class since 2019.

“It’s the first time we are doing the GT World Challenge in Pro with factory drivers, so it’s good to be competitive and we need to be competitive,” he suggested.

“We just need to try again to get a good result.

“It’s a completely different championship to what we’re used to with the regulations and tires, so every time we’re running, we’re improving.”

Martin felt that Beechdean AMR successfully demonstrated that the Aston ‘has the pace’ to compete for overall wins in GTWC Europe this season.

“For sure we showed the car is definitely competitive,” he reflected.

“The car seemed better in the race setup than qualifying, and we need to understand why.

“We have some more work to do to bring the whole package together, but this is encouraging for Ricard and Spa, where we know we have a car we can fight with.

“Today we showed we have the pace; now we have to bring it all together and back it up with a result.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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