Following their strong performance in France last month, the FTR squad returned to UK shores determined to stamp their authority on the TORA British GT eSports Championship’s second endurance round of the season at Silverstone. And they didn’t disappoint.
Sure enough, both sides of FTR’s garage proved they had what it takes by locking out positions one-to-four in qualifying, the now familiar pair of Porsche RSRs driven by Vain and Van Autenreid leading the two SLS AMGs.
FTR’s domination was almost broken by Sam Kaido’s HCR BMW, which missed out on the second row of the grid by just two hundredths. On home soil the Aston Martin teams had also hoped local knowledge would help end Porsche and Mercedes’ championship stranglehold, but the British manufacturer’s best-placed driver – Ashley Senior – could only line up 10th after lapping just 0.001s quicker than Cyber Racing's Adam Watson.
At the start Von Autenreid – who started P2 – was immediately under pressure from the two SLS AMG GT3s through Turn 1. Then, under braking for Village, the Porsche was overrun by Mason Gutteridge, who subsequently slipped by at The Loop.
But as the battle for second raged so pole-sitter Vain was free to extend his lead gradually up until the mandatory pitstops and then the chequered flag.
Behind, Von Autenreid and Gutteridge provided most of the entertainment by reprising their intense Indianapolis tussle in pursuit of the podium. Both drivers fought fairly despite some hair-raising side-by-side moments through Maggotts and Stowe during the race’s closing stages. However, the battle was eventually settled in Von Autenreid’s favour when the pair encountered heavy GT4 traffic at Village, which cost Gutteridge precious time.
Victory at Silverstone puts Vain 50 points clear of McCraken who now heads to Spa, a circuit which brought him some strong finishes in 2017. Could we see a Kaido HCR resurgence on Belgian soil?
Meanwhile, the GT4 class featured a dominant performance from Ben Smith and his Audi R8 from the outset after qualifying nearly 0.8s clear of the Kaido HCR Mercedes driven by Hayden Thompson. The GTR Aston Martin Vantages of John Watt and Dan Jackson locked out row two with the FTR Subaru BRZ and Beechdean AMR Vantage close behind.
With Smith's Audi out in front it was down to Thompson and Watt to provide the action with racing that was extremely close but fair throughout the opening stages of the race. Following the stops and with increased pressure of passing GT3 traffic, Thompson held his nerve to the flag to claim second place and hold off Jackson who cemented his second place in the championship only 18 points behind team-mate Watt.
In all it was another excellent weekend for the FTR squad with the only fly in the ointment being the retirement of Danny Gower late in the race following a technical issue.
As the championship reaches Spa-Francorchamps – another high speed circuit likely to benefit the Porsches and Mercedes – things are looking ominous for the rest of the grid as FTR aim to assert their authority once more.
The next rounds will be aired live on YMTV 8pm Sunday 12th August. Full race replays are available on YMTV's YouTube channel.