Legendary Scottish motor racing outfit Ecurie Ecosse travelled to Germany’s Nurbürgring circuit for rounds three and four of the British GT Championship last weekend (May 18-20) looking to follow up their dramatic season-opening victory at Oulton Park in April.
The team’s Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 enjoyed its last competitive outing at Monza for the maiden event of the Blancpain Endurance Series season where drivers Andrew Smith, Ollie Millroy and Joe Twyman overcame torrential rain to take the flag 11th in their 39-strong class.
With the squad’s focus switched back to British GT, the Nurbürgring event represented their BMW Z4’s first ever race on slick Avon tyres and saw the team score valuable championship points with a fifth place finish in race one and ninth in race two.
Thursday afternoon’s first qualifying session was completed by Alasdair McCaig who recorded a time of 1m45.1s to give the team a P5 start for race one. The second session was handled by Oliver Bryant, who took 12th on the grid for race two after posting a quickest lap of 1m44.2s.
Starting on a damp track, McCaig enjoyed a strong getaway in race one to quickly climb to fourth and begin an exciting duel for P3 with Andrew Howard’s Beechdean Aston Martin. Bryant took over the Z4 in third spot and quickly settled into a rhythm, pushing hard on the fading Avons.
Also struggling with locking rear brakes, Bryant was unable to hold off the Motorbase Porsche of Michael Caine for fourth. By the race’s closing stages the Mtech Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin was closing fast and while Bryant valiantly held him off for two laps, the Ferrari managed to edge past on the final tour, finishing just 0.9 seconds ahead of the Ecosse BMW.
Bryant began race two from 12th on the grid with a tricky task ahead. A solid start saw him maintain position into the turn one and push hard to stay with the United Autosports Audi R8 of Matt Bell. However a battle with the chasing Jones brothers’ Mercedes SLS and Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 of Aaron Scott meant Bryant had to defend hard and the pack in front pulled away.
McCaig took over in P13 and was immediately on the charge. An impressive stint saw him climb to ninth by the final lap, hustling the eighth placed Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 of Hector Lester. A last gasp effort to overhaul Lester at the final chicane was unsuccessful and McCaig crossed the line just 0.6 seconds behind.
Hugh McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse Team Principal: "The team did a great job this weekend. We still have a lot of performance to unlock but it’s part of the learning process we knew we’d go through with a new car racing on Avon slicks for the first time. We have significant testing planned over the coming weeks and I am confident this will allow us to get much more out of the car and the drivers ahead of the next race."
Oliver Bryant, Ecurie Ecosse Driver: "Nurbürgring was our first long run on the Avon slicks so it was really a learning weekend for us. We were some way off the pace of Porsche and Aston Martin but we now have a greater understanding of the car. It was also encouraging to see the team run faultlessly and we can be satisfied to have scored points in both races."
Alasdair McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse Driver: "This weekend showed that we still have work to do on the BMW when running on Avon tyres. We finished with two solid results but there’s pace to find which we’re confident we’ll achieve through our upcoming testing programme."
Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Managing Director : "We had a really solid weekend at the fantastic but tricky Nurbürgring GP circuit, taking home a good points haul but not quite enjoying the pace we would have expected. However with an extensive test programme planned before Rockingham I fully expect us to be back challenging for victory when we race there in June."
Ecurie Ecosse’s next competitive outing sees the team head to Silverstone for round two of the Blancpain Endurance Series (June 3) where they will field Joe Twyman, Ollie Millroy and a third driver to be confirmed shortly. Regular racer Andrew Smith is unavailable for the British event due to a longstanding personal commitment and Ecurie Ecosse is in discussions with several interested parties regarding the seat.
The team’s next British GT Championship event takes place at Rockingham on June 9/10.