A podium finish was on the horizon for Fiona James and Matt Nicoll-Jones.
A podium finish at their home round for Matt and Fiona was looking promising up until a frustrating incident.
Round 2 in the European GT4 Series was the home round race for both Fiona and Matt, as the series made its visit to Brands Hatch. Being on their home turf with the fantastic support, Fiona and Matt were determined to take a podium finish. Fiona started off Race 1 with a really good start showing real signs of pace, coming into the driver change in contention for podium. Unfortunately, at the driver change the team had a problem with the start button and couldn’t get the car restarted; resulting in a DNF. Academy Motorsport team were fantastic on working out a temporary fix on the car to make sure it made it out for race 2.
It was now time for Race 2 in the afternoon and it was Matt’s turn to take the first stint, all set to make his mark on home ground after not being able to in Race 1. Starting on the grid in P8, Matt was soon off to a flyer with an amazing start off the line; he managed to climb for places off the line into P4! From this point onwards the pace Matt showed in the car was always looking like he could take pole. Lap by lap Matt was soon climbing the ranks eliminating his opponents ahead. In the dying stages of the end of his stint, Matt incredibly took the Aston in P1! It was now time for Matt to keep up the pace and create a big enough gap to give the team an advantage when coming in for the change over, for Fiona. However, this did not go to plan as a safety car emerged not long after Matt took pole, meaning the lead shortened.
A tactical decision was then made to bring the car in during the safety car for the driver change. Ready to come out and keep the lead was Fiona James. The driver change saw Fiona come out at p3, acknowledging the driver change may need a bit of practice to sharpen up. Unfortunately, on Fiona’s 2nd lap out one of the other cars hit the back of Fiona at turn 1, spinning the car out! Fiona worked hard and still managed to climb back up a few places despite the handling having been affected by the hit but there was just too much to do to get back to where they were. A very frustrating end to their race and it was looking imminent for a podium finish – on their home turf! All in all, there are lots of positives to take forward in to the next race and the car was showing great signs of pace.