The first race of the European GT4 Series got underway this weekend in Zolder, Belgium.
It was the start of the season for duo Fiona James and Matt Nicoll-Jones in the European GT4 Series.
The Walero x Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage ticked off the first track of the series this weekend, with race one getting underway at Zolder. It was a frustrating start to the weekend in Zolder with a very busy start to qualifying having over 40 cars on the grid. The early morning qualifying session encountered several full course yellows and one red flag, proving very difficult for the pair to get a clean run out on the track.
Although it was a very tricky start, Fiona manages to rise above the heat to reach her personal best on her last lap out! As soon as Fiona had a clear grid she certainly optimised on her chances and pushed the Aston to its limits. It was always a big step up in Fiona’s racing career but she has certainly proved to have what it takes to compete in this championship.
Following a difficult day of qualifying, the race soon followed suit opposing some issues with the car which made the race very difficult. Fiona said:
“The car was great after a difficult day of qualifying yesterday, following a piece of debris shredding the belt meaning we lost steering, cooling and the alternator. The guys in the team did a great job of getting the belt changed quickly, getting me out in just over 10 minutes – which is amazing considering this is usually an hour job with a cold engine!”
Fiona managed to get our for just over 10 minutes till the end of the race. Fiona had good pace and was catching the cars in front but sadly she just didn’t have enough time to catch them; a real shame as Matt did such a great job working his way through the field until that problem occurred.
The pair started from the back of the grid in the second race after receiving some penalties. This time around it was Fiona to start the race. It was a great start for Fiona as she was working her way up the grid gaining 8 or 9 places until the safety car emerged 10 minutes before her pit window! Unfortunately, Fiona had a big spin avoiding 2 cars who stopped unexpectedly as the safety car came in, losing all those places gained. Another safety car was out a few minutes later meaning Fiona could catch the back of the pack and even better, making a few places back before her pit stop.
It was then over to Matt to take over the final stint of the race. Matt done a great job working his way back up the grid to p9! Fiona said:
“We really struggled with braking (and lack of it) as the track is really hard on the brakes round here, which in turn caused understeer.”
At least the pair have learnt they have the pace for the podium and positively Fiona’s times are coming down with every outing, meaning she is one of the fastest AM drivers! Thankfully the pair also managed to stay clear of trouble and bring the car back home in one piece!