Once, the airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk were home to the bomber squadrons that defended our shores, but on Saturday the Mighty Aston martin Vulcan, named after the Jet engine bomber that carried on this mantle during the cold war and wrapped in its original flight camouflage, shattered the peace in the GT Challenge race at Snetterton.
For many, the make-up of the Aston Martin Owners Club GT grid can be a mystery, and this week’s race was set to confuse even more with no less than 4 cars running outside the normal Class structure as “Invitational” runners. Some were too new, most too powerful or many not using the Dunlop control tyre, but the end result was the same – a great grid and some immense racing.
The Ramair team caught up with RacetruckUK Brand Ambassador and BTCC star Jake Hill from Trade Price Cars who was sharing the only real competition for the Vulcan in the form of a LeMans Aston Martin Vantage GT2 with owner Mark Whight.
Jake drove our TCR in its first test for Brisky Racing before the start of the 2018 season and we were pleased to get him reunited with the car for some shots!
With perfect weather for qualifying, we were feeling optimistic but a combination of oil on the track from the older cars and a loose setup that didn’t deliver in the hairpins and longer corners at Snetterton meant we were a second or two off our target pace.
A 6th place grid position was 2nd in real terms for the GT Challenge and first in class and ahead of the Ginetta G50 of Phill Knibb and the Porsche turbocharged 964 Supercup of Robert Hollyman. After a tweak to the dampers we took to the roiling start as ever alongside the Becker/Palmer Aston Martin GT4 and a solid start saw the position consolidated, keeping the fast starting Ginetta and Porsche behind through the crucial first few corners.
With the back of the car now looser than before, some lurid slides on full opposite lock slowed our pace, but while the cars behind could sense blood, they had no more idea where the Golf would go in the next corner than Jamie did, as the car made a great impression of an ice racer! This was how it stayed until the pit window opened and Jamie pitted immediately to lose some rear tyre pressure.
As has become his style, the next phase of the race for Jamie was all about clean fast laps to gap the other cars during their stops, but they emerged from the pits two laps later just as close. It was then time to ignore the mirrors, pick the braking points well and conserve the tyres, and as the race commenced the gap grew to those following, and we could concentrate on reeling in the Guess/Hilliard Ginetta G55 GT4. With a handful of laps to go, Jamie made the catch and took the place with a solid move under braking into Agostini.
Being lapped by Jake Hill in a LeMans car is no shame, so as the race end neared and the familiar grill loomed in the mirror Jamie was compliant through Coram to let him fly by, relishing the howl of the Aston motor as he did.
With Jake and Mark taking the Invitational win, Becker and Palmer took the GT challenge win, with Jamie bringing the Ramair Golf home for a solid second and a class win, his only real error of the day was dropping the trophy on the podium!
Back to Castle Combe for the season finale in two weeks; follow Jamie’s progress on Instagram – @sturges.jamie