Nicholas Mee Racing rounded off its victorious 2011 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge winning season with a Class 3 victory and second overall in last weekend’s gruelling Britcar 24hr race at Silverstone. Dan de Zille was joined by drivers Karsten Le Blanc, Christiaen van Lanschot, and Robert Nimkoff who together completed 560 laps of the 3.6604-mile GP circuit in the NMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 to finish behind the winning McInerney team’s Class 1 GT2 Ferrari 430 and just one lap ahead of the 3rd-place-finishing Class 3 Lotus Evora of Marcos Racing International.
Dan headed to Silverstone for this year’s 24hr race with high hopes of completing unfinished business after the team’s disappointment in 2010 when blighted by a crash late in the race while lying in 9th overall.
In qualifying de Zille posted a time good enough for 16th on the grid, but rather than gamble on gaining a few positions the team parked the car up and prepared for the race. With the qualifying session completed, NMR was placed 20th on the grid.
The race got underway at 16.29 on the Saturday with Le Blanc piloting NMR’s Aston. Each driver then rotated through the early hours of the race and into the night with 2-hour ‘double’ stints. The car would pit roughly every hour to refuel, with fresh tyres fitted every two hours or so.
Keeping out of trouble and with an excellent strategy, NMR climbed swiftly up the field and into the lead of Class 3 – a position it would maintain for the most of the next 22 hours. De Zille was the last driver to take his turn and at midnight started a heroic 2hr 53min stint, just 7 minutes shorter than the maximum allowed. During this session he posted some stunning lap times that moved NMR up into the top five overall.
NMR’s race continued unbelievably smoothly with zero car issues, a faultless performance by all four drivers and rapid and efficient pit-work by the NMR crew, ably headed by Giles Dawson. One of themost exciting features of the entire race was NMR’s epic duel with the Lotus Evora GT4 driven by a team of experienced professional and semi-professional drivers including sportscar veteran Cor Euser. The two teams battled it out for the lead of Class 3 and overall podium honours for over half of the race.
With all of NMR’s drivers having completed roughly the same distance, it was down to Le Blanc to drive the final stint to the flag. With the Lotus charging hard from behind it was an extremely tense period with just one lap, and sometimes, just seconds separating the two. Finally, at 16.32 on the Sunday, NMR’s V8 Vantage crossed the line in second position overall and first in the ultra-competitive Class 3.
After the race NMR’s jubilant Team Principal Nicholas Mee said, “Heroes all! In 24 hours of racing we had no driver errors, no car failings, no time penalties, no damage and a dream result, all of which comes on top of five race wins and victory in this year’s Aston Martin Challenge series! I’m immensely proud and appreciative of the whole team’s achievements. Big thanks to our drivers, sponsors, pit-crew and supporters who have all helped make a great racing season even greater.
Dan is back out in his Mygale Formula Ford this weekend for the final round of the British Formula Ford Championship at Silverstone where Dan is currently lying in fifth place overall for the title.