The #188 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Alexander West, Chris Goodwin and Jonny Adam weathered the storm to take the chequered flag in first place in class in the opening round of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe season at Monza.
In the Silver class, the #159 Aston Martin of Valentin Hasse-Clot, Nicolai Kjærgaard and Alex MacDowall was looking assured of a podium finish before being struck by a BMW in the middle part of the three-hour race.
The heavens opened just a few minutes into the race, giving West and MacDowall a lot to think about in the two Garage 59 Vantages. Despite the slippery conditions they both put in strong opening stints and made up positions during the first hour of the race.
Chris Goodwin was up next in the #188 Vantage, continuing the good work of West and eventually taking the lead in Pro-Am. In a race peppered with full course yellows and safety car periods, when so many fell by the wayside with punctures or crashes, the #188 crew avoided all the drama. Jonny Adam’s final stint in the #188 took the Aston Martin to a cool, calm and collected Pro-Am victory, kicking off the defence of the team’s 2020 Endurance Cup Championship crown.
“Monza never fails to deliver interesting racing, especially when the weather comes into play,” said West. “The intensity of the rain took everyone slightly by surprise at the start but I managed to avoid any trouble in the first hour and then Chris’ experience really came to the fore in the middle stint when the conditions were changing all the time. It’s great to get our Championship off to such a strong start.”
“This result was a great team effort,” said Adam. “The whole team performed well all weekend. It was great to share a podium with Alex and Chris and kick start our championship campaign. What better way to do that than to win at Monza!”
The result wasn’t quite so rosy for the #159 crew. Nicolai Kjærgaard was making great progress during the middle stint. The Danish driver took the gamble to switch to slick tyres during his run and when the track started to dry he soon caught the Lamborghini that would go on to win the Silver class. A double win just wasn’t to be though and, even after a spirited drive from Hasse-Clot the #159 Vantage crossed the line in ninth place in class.
“It was a pretty chaotic race,” explained Kjærgaard. “Alex did an amazing job to deal with the full course yellows and the tricky conditions, making great restarts. When I got in it was wet to start with but we had good pace. It was tough when we changed to slicks but once the track dried we made great strides until I was right behind the Lamborghini. Unfortunately I lost a lot of time as I got spun around by a BMW going into the Parabolica. I passed him as he was on wet tyres and he must have misjudged his braking as he ran right into the back of me.”
The next round of the GT World Challenge Europe is a Sprint Cup round, which takes place at the Circuit de Nevers in Magny Cours, France on May 9th.