Legendary Scottish motor racing outfit Ecurie Ecosse produced a solid British GT Championship performance at Rockingham last weekend (June 10) to score valuable points with a seventh place overall finish in the two-hour endurance event.
The team was enjoying its third outing in the British series with regular drivers Oliver Bryant and Alasdair McCaig at the wheel of their Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 following May’s overseas round at the Nurbürgring.
Saturday’s opening free practice session was spent trialling set-up adjustments and allowing McCaig to familiarise himself with the latest Rockingham layout. Come the afternoon it became clear that there was significant time to be gained by running on new rubber when Bryant, who had found himself outside the top 10 for much of the session, fitted fresh tyres to the Z4 and jumped straight to the top of the timesheets on his way to a competitive fifth at the conclusion.
With just one qualifying session deciding the grid for Sunday’s two-hour race Bryant ventured out on new tyres to set his time, recording a strong 1m23.9s lap to sit P2 for the first half of proceedings. The team then decided to bank this and send McCaig out for his minimum three laps so as to preserve rubber for the race. By the end of the session the duo were sixth fastest and just a shade over half a second shy of pole position.
McCaig took the start of Sunday’s main event and made a clean getaway aboard the Z4. Close-fought battles on the infield section saw the Scot drop to 12th but he launched a strong recovery to climb back to eighth by the end of his one-hour stint.
Taking advantage of a safety car period, a faultless pit-stop by the Barwell crew saw the Ecurie Ecosse BMW leapfrog several cars as it took on fuel and fresh rubber. Once out on track Bryant was immediately on the pace, climbing the order to run an impressive third early in his stint.
However as several Porsches quickly closed in it became clear that the long, fast banking at Rockingham was proving a major advantage to the BMW’s pursuers. While Bryant battled hard to keep his rivals behind on the infield there was nothing he could do on the straights.
Despite finding himself on the back foot the Brit continued to push hard to set consistently quick times throughout his stint. After just falling short in his last lap effort to overhaul the sixth-placed RJN-Nissan, Bryant was forced to settle for a seventh, taking the chequered flag just 24 seconds behind the race-winner after two hours. Securing nine valuable points in the process, the Ecurie Ecosse duo now lie seventh in the highly competitive British GT Championship standings.
Hugh McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse Team Principal: “Our qualifying pace was the best it’s been so far this season. We measured up strongly against the competition and this bodes extremely well for the next race at Brands Hatch in two weeks.”
Alasdair McCaig, Ecurie Ecosse Driver: “I’m on a very steep learning curve this season and took away a lot of vital experience from the Rockingham weekend. I was pleased to be able to hand the car to Olly in one piece after which he did a tremendous job. We’re now really looking forward to Brands Hatch.”
Oliver Bryant, Ecurie Ecosse Driver: “We made a big step forward in qualifying this weekend, showing our best pace of the season to be just 0.539s off pole. We were able to exploit the excellent handling of the BMW chassis through the tight infield section but unfortunately the massive straight-line speed advantage of the Porsches made the race more difficult, as on the banking three of them passed me as if I was standing still! The Barwell crew did a fantastic job during the pit-stop and we brought the car home for our fifth consecutive points scoring finish of the season, so there’s much to be positive about.”
Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “We showed signs of what we can achieve this weekend, with Olly in particular on the pace for qualifying and the race. As such the ingredients are there for a potential podium on the fast, flowing Brands Hatch GP circuit.”
Ecurie Ecosse's attention remains on the British GT Championship as they prepare for a two-hour endurance race at the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit (June 23-24). Their next Blancpain Endurance Series event will see the team travel to French venue Paul Ricard on July 1 for the third round of the pan-European championship.