Ecurie Ecosse netted a well-deserved Blancpain Endurance Series point from a gruelling three-hour race at the Nurburgring yesterday (23 September) as spirited performances from Andrew Smith, Ollie Millroy and Joe Twyman helped guide the team’s Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 to 20th overall and 10th in the Pro-Am class.
After taking the start from the 12th row of the grid Smith produced a stellar opening stint, at times lapping amongst the top-eight and moving the Z4 towards the class front-runners.
But a safety car period 30 minutes into the race would slow the Scottish squad’s progress. While many of their rivals quickly ducked into the pits, the 2011-spec Ecosse BMW was forced to remain on-track until their fuel window opened. Smith handed over to Twyman shortly after the 50-minute mark, by which time the team had lost the best part of three-quarters of a lap to those able to stop earlier.
Undeterred, Twyman resumed in 26th spot and, despite contact with a Ferrari knocking the Z4’s steering geometry out, climbed the order to run just outside the top-20 after his 65-minute stint.
Millroy took over for the final third of the event and immediately raised eyebrows by running at the same pace as the lead 2012-spec BMW of Frank Kechele. Despite the car’s slight imbalance, Millroy did a sterling job to reward the team with their first Blancpain Endurance Series point of the year. The youngster took the chequered flag 10th in class, chasing home the Ferrari driven by motorcycle legend Valentino Rossi.
Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Managing Director: “It’s a real shame that we couldn’t pit under the safety car but we still had a really solid weekend, which was capped nicely by our first points in the highly competitive Blancpain championship. At least we won’t have this problem next year as we’ll have the latest kit by then!”
Andrew Smith, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “I haven’t been back in the car since my first GT race at Monza in April. Conditions there were dreadful so this was my first proper dry start, and I loved every minute of it! Ollie did a fantastic job in qualifying – it was great to be back sharing the car with him and Joe again – and I’m delighted we managed to score some points. Roll on Navarra!”
Ollie Millroy, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “We saw another strong performance from the whole team at the Nurburgring. To come away with a top-10 class finish in the toughest GT championship in the world driving a 2011-spec car is a great achievement for everyone. I was very happy with my lap in qualifying as I felt I really got the maximum from the car. All three drivers put together very strong stints in the race and now I can’t wait to get going again at Navarra!”
Joe Twyman, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “To have come away with a point today is just incredible. With the longer-range fuel tanks we looked set for a result in the top-15, so our pace couldn’t have been much better. I am thrilled with the progress we have all made this year and I’m looking forward to adding to the points at Navarra in three weeks time.”
The team’s final Blancpain Endurance Series event of the year takes place at Spain’s Circuito de Navarra (October 14) where the Scottish outfit will be looking to end their maiden season in the championship with another strong performance. Before that however, Ecurie Ecosse will be in British GT action at Donington Park (29–30 September) with Alasdair McCaig battling for the drivers’ title. The Scot trails the championship leaders by just half a point heading to the decisive season finale.