Dan de Zille secures maiden race win for Nicholas Mee Racing in the Aston Martin GT4 Cup at Snetterton this weekend, alongside Karsten Le Blanc.
Dan was guest driver for Nicholas Mee Racing in this weekend’s Aston Martin GT4 Cup Challenge race. The 3-hour event was the 2nd round in the Series held at Snetterton where Dan and Karsten lined up against a full grid of professionals and gentlemen driver pairings. Confident of NMR’s high standards of preparation, the team started the weekend in cautiously optimistic mood.
In qualifying Karsten went out first to set the time. But a major excursion at the first corner by a competitor halted the session and by the time Dan got in the car it had started to rain. Staying out on slicks in varying conditions, Dan did remarkably well to set the quickest time to qualify the duo on the front row in P2 overall, with a time of 2m 03.1s just behind the pole-sitting car of Richard Abra and Mark Poole.
Come the race, Karsten took the start and led by the 2nd corner. The 3-hour race was pretty eventful with several safety car periods, one in particular caused by the Frankel/Watkins car dropping oil from The Esses right round to Corum causing Karsten to spin dropping them to 6th place. The NMR strategy was to swap drivers halfway through the race, and when Dan took over they were back up to 4th overall.
During another Safety car period, NMR team manager Giles Dawson decided to make the last fuel stop of the race, leaving Dan a clear run to the finish. The strategy paid off, as most other teams still had one stop to make, and by the 2-hour mark Dan was up into 3rd position. In the last half-hour Dan took the lead, and though the chasing car of Richard Abra looked threatening at once stage, officials notified the team that Richard had exceeded 66% of race distance, forcing them to pit and change drivers.
In 2nd place, Stuart Hall then became Dan’s pursuer, but he was no match for the Le Blanc - De Zille duo who romped home to a comfortable win, a clear minute ahead of the rest of the field.
Dan’s reaction on the weekend “What an amazing day! While it was disappointing to miss out on a shot at pole Karsten did a great job in his stint, keeping us in contention at the front of the pack. It was great racing coming through the pack and the guys behind ensured I could never let up the pace, pushing hard to the end. As a first outright race win it's brilliant and do to it in an Aston Martin and by such a margin is the icing on the cake. It's a great boost heading into the next Formula Ford round at Brands Hatch and I'm hoping I can get back in the Aston later in the season.”
NMR ‘s Team Commercial Director Neal Garrard commented, “All credit to Team Manager Giles Dawson! He’s done a great job this year, and it was his strategy, which helped us win this weekend. Dan was consistently on the pace and both drivers kept it clean, despite the race becoming quite a battlefield. Great teamwork by all, and we’re looking forward to the next round.”
Karsten Le Black commented “Its been a fun race, with lots of drama, but all in all a great experience. Thanks to Giles’ great set-up and smart thinking on the pit wall, Dan’s consistent, precise and quick driving. I am obviously delighted for everyone to take the first genuine top step podium finish for the NMR team.”
Talks with the team may see Dan back out in the Aston Martin later this season. Meanwhile it’s back to the MSA Dunlop Formula Ford Championship for Dan, who will be back out in action at Brands Hatch on 18th June. Dan is currently lying an excellent 5th overall in the championship.