Team Russia by Barwell with Demon Tweeks headed to Snetterton for the penultimate round of the British GT Championship last weekend. After some very strong performances in the previous few rounds, drivers Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen were looking forward to seeing what they could do in the Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3.
It didn’t take long for the duo to get dialled into the circuit. Midway through Free Practice, Pro driver Keen set the second fastest lap of the session, a mere 0.023s behind the Beechdean Aston of Adam and Howard. Unfortunately, whilst Jon was completing his laps, an unusual and extremely rare failure of a braking component brought this good run to an abrupt end. Unable to slow the Demon Tweeks-backed car down at the end of the straight, Jon was powerless to resist going straight on at Agostini corner and hit the tyre wall hard, causing substantial frontal damage to the car. Thankfully Jon came out of the incident unscathed, which is a credit to the strength and safety features of the BMW Z4.
The Barwell Motorsport crew then set about the task of trying to repair the car as swiftly as possible. With damage to the front chassis legs this would be no easy feat, and one that may teams might not have even attempted, but with Barwell Engineering Director and ‘fabricator-extraordinaire’, Chris Weeden, on hand, we knew we had a fighting chance of getting the car out for the afternoon qualifying sessions in less than four hours’ time! Incredibly Chris managed to rebuild the chassis legs on-site, whilst the rest of the crew did a great job of effecting all the other repairs required. The relentless hard work from the team paid off, and although they just missed out on getting Jon out for the Am qualifying session, the car was ready for Phil to complete his qualifying laps in the Pro session. The Z4 was perfect straight out of the box, and despite having very little track time under his belt, Phil did a great job to place it in fifth position for the second of Sunday’s races. A huge well done to everyone involved in getting the car back on track!
Due to Jon not being able to qualify, he was placed at the back of the GT3 grid for the start of Sunday’s first 1-hour encounter. After a fantastic start, disaster struck as he was sideswiped by the Ferrari of Gary Eastwood which caused a left front puncture. Jon got the car back round and dived into the pits for a rapid tyre change from the crew and headed back out, but unfortunately a great deal of time had been lost in the process. Keen took over at the half way driver change and was determined to place the car as highly as possible. The Demon Tweeks Pro driver was on a mission throughout his recovery drive and, after achieving ‘purple’ fastest overall sector times he brought the car home in 12th position.
The heavens opened for the beginning of race two, and Jon and Phil were more than ready to fight for a podium from fifth on the grid. It took no time at all for Keen to charge up the ranks and pick off the VonRyan McLaren and the TF Sport Aston Martin. Only a few laps in, he began to hunt down Joe Osborne’s Triple Eight BMW Z4 and completed a phenomenal move where he ‘dummied’ to the outside of Osborne at Williams corner, but then chopped across the back of his rival and passed him down the inside on the exit of the corner with two wheels on the grass! Having claimed second spot, Phil then handed over the car to Jon, who re-joined the race still in second place. It wasn’t long before Jon’s love of wet racing began to show as he took chunks out of the gap between him and the race-leading Aston Martin of Andrew Howard, reducing it by 5.5 seconds in just four laps! However before he could challenge any further, the rain kept coming down hard and the race came to an abrupt end with 14 minutes still left on the clock, as it was red flagged due to the torrential downpour causing track conditions to be too dangerous.
A fantastic and very rewarding result for the Team Russia by Barwell with Demon Tweeks crew, after overcoming a tough break on the Saturday. The final round at Donington is just around the corner and after another podium position, the team will be on the hunt to claim their first victory of the year!