Engine Failure Costs Pole Qualifier Oli Basey Fisher Spa Podium‏

Factors beyond the control of Avon Tyres British GT Championship racer Oli Basey-Fisher conspired to rob the 19-year-old of a deserved podium finish, and potential GT4 Class victory, during the series’ annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, 12th July.Delivering a star performance in qualifying on his first British GT appearance at the Belgian track, the Ginetta G55 driver secured pole position for round seven with Academy Motorsport team-mate, and team principal, Matt Nicoll-Jones doing likewise in the round eight session.With the duo on course for their first silverware since winning round three at Rockingham in May, an engine blow-up during the second half of the opening contest on Saturday morning led to a hugely frustrating retirement and also resulted in the team-mates having to sit-out race two.“It’s irritating to say the least, our engine was brand new and had done less than two hours running before it went bang”, said Great Finborough-based Oli, “We definitely proved our pace and that the car is quick by getting pole for both races, we did as much as we could. We really thought our luck had changed, the team worked so hard all weekend and we deserved more than we got in the end.”Things started so well for Oli in the all-important qualifying run on Friday, 11th July, with the first year British GT racer lapping with a best time of 2m37.347 seconds (160.247 km/h) to claim the GT4 class pole position for round seven by half a second.On raceday morning, hanging mist and a damp track surface resulted in the vast majority of teams fitting wet-weather tyres but on the formation lap it became clear most of the circuit was actually surprisingly dry. Therefore, Oli and a large portion of the rest of the grid pitted to change to slicks.Foregoing the chance to start on the GT4 pole, Oli had to mount a determined drive after starting from the pits and did so with some outstanding laps. Surging through the order, lapping two seconds faster than the GT4 leader, he made his way back into the podium placings by the start of lap six.Moving into second position soon after, the Suffolk racer decimated the lead of Aston Martin driver Andrew Jarman and was less than four seconds adrift just prior to the pit window opening for the mandatory driver changes. Oli briefly took the lead when Jarman made his pit visit but at the end of that very same lap, he pitted himself to hand over the No.55 car to Nicoll-Jones.Emerging in fourth place, after unfortunately losing a bit of time at the stop with a seat-belt issue, the Academy team boss closed on the GT4 podium but with around 20 minutes of racing to go he was served with a drive-through penalty for a pit-lane infringement. Frustratingly falling to sixth in class, with just a few laps to run the weekend then came to a dramatic and vexing conclusion when the engine failure forced Nicoll-Jones into retirement. With no replacement powerplant available, the Century Logistics and DCB (Kent) Ltd-backed drivers had to miss round eight – the weekend ending on a very sour note having promised so much at the outset.“Friday was good and I was a bit surprised to take pole to be honest”, reflected Oli, “We had a bit of an issue with the prop-shaft in testing, so didn’t have as much running as we wanted, but the car felt good in qualifying and I was able to take pole even though I wasn’t that happy with my lap when I watched it back. I was frustrated not to get an ultimate pace lap in, but the pace was clearly there.“After we realised the track was too dry for wets on the sighting lap before race one, we dived into the pits with 95 percent of the others to change to slicks and so the start was very interesting. It was single-file almost but we did well to race from pretty much the back to almost catch the GT4 leader. We were definitely on for a podium, it’s so frustrating to lose that through no fault of our own.”There is now a seven week break from action for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship with the ninth round of the season taking place on Sunday, 31st August, at Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.

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