Modell reclaims British GT initiative at Silverstone
Tuesday 3rd June 2014
Maidstone’s Devon Modell and teammate Andrew Jarman continued to rack up the podium finishes in Round 4 of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit (31 May-1 June).
A turbulent start to the Silverstone 50’ weekend for Modell and Jarman put them on the back foot in free practice and qualifying at the Northamptonshire venue.
The flourishing TF Sport team opted for a super-conservative setup for its GT4-spec Aston Martin V8 Vantage, after its flat floor failed under immense loads on Silverstone’s high-speed Grand Prix circuit and in an attempt to kerb a case of excessive understeer.
While this cautious approach cured the understeer, it dramatically hindered the team’s pace and the 10th fastest time was all it could muster in qualifying, although a decision to switch back to a more conventional setup saw it close to within two tenths of the leading Beechdean Aston Martin in Sunday’s morning warm-up.
Modell’s teammate, Jarman, took the start of the three-hour enduro and immediately made progress up the leaderboard until the TF Sport Aston Martin unexpectedly came to a stop at Brooklands corner on lap two.
A full master reset and an unscheduled stop resulted in a significant time loss, but Jarman put the hammer down and lapped the 3.66mile Silverstone Grand Prix circuit at an impressive pace, reducing the deficit sizeably with each lap.
A safety car deployment neutralised the race on lap 10 and this caused a hive of activity in the pits as teams, including TF Sport, took the opportunity to carry out their initial driver changes.
Action resumed on lap 15 and Modell was tasked with reinforcing Jarman’s pace and ascending further up the timing screens – a challenge he gladly rose to, to hold third position as the race entered its second hour.
The Maidstone-based driver ran strongly throughout a stint which lasted approximately 45 minutes and got to within two tenths of second-placed Ross Wylie before handing the car back to Jarman with 90 minutes of the three-hour contest to run.
TF Sport soon held the initiative but was under threat from the fast-approaching Ginetta of Rick Parfitt Junior, who carelessly made contact with Jarman to tip them both into spins.
Parfitt was given a drive-through penalty for his misdemeanour, while Jarman re-entered the fray some five seconds behind Ryan Ratcliffe’s Ginetta G55.
Once the final round of stops had taken place it was Twisted Team Parker’s Bradley Ellis who held the lead, with Matt Draper and Modell rounding out the podium places.
However, it was only a short time before Modell’s third place was under threat, as the hard-charging Tom Oliphant and Ross Wylie honed in and really applied the pressure in the closing stages.
Oliphant would fall out of contention in a cloud of smoke, leaving Wylie to pick up the baton. However, a sensational defensive drive by Modell saw the TF Sport Aston Martin cross the finish third in the GT4 classification with the slenderest of advantages over its Beechdean Aston Martin counterpart.
“It was really hard work at the end and I had to drive the widest Aston Martin in existence to maintain third place,” said Modell. “I wasn’t quite quick enough to begin with but I kept picking up the pace, settled into a rhythm and, by the end of my first stint, we were easily the quickest Aston Martin out there. We had no running during free practice, but decided to be ambitious and only change two tyres on the car during the stops. We just about got away with it and, given how the weekend started, a podium finish is amazing. Having said that, it speaks volumes that I’m slightly disappointed with third place!”
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