ADAC GT4 Germany Oschersleben race report
Tom signed an exciting new deal in the fiercely competitive German ADAC GT4 with Aston Martin racing supported team: Hella Pagid Racing One. A highly experienced outfit, Tom would partner with Euan McKay for their assault of the 2022 ADAC GT4 Championship.
With limited testing and a new circuit for Tom to grasp, it was to be a hard first day in the office as he got to grips with the Oschersleben circuit. With set up not being in the window for the team, they ended FP1 and FP2 only P22 overall. Tom commented “Friday was the toughest day for us. With myself nor the team having not been to the circuit and the fact we missed the pre-season test there really put us on the back foot.”
The structure of the weekend would be for one driver to qualify and start the race on Saturday and reverse the roles on Sunday. Euan would qualify first with the team hopeful that the changes to set up overnight would make up the difference to the front runners. With the weather being fine and dry all weekend, consistency was key as Tom and Euan struggled with the setup going into Qualifying 1. Euan put a great lap in on his 5 lap trying on the new tyres still only qualifying the pair in P15, an improvement on the previous day.
Euan was to start race 1 with a clear mature goal of finishing inside the points in view of the championship. Starting on the inside, Euan made a good getaway and held position into the tricky turn 1complex. A little touch of doors meant he conceded P15 going onto Lap 2 of the race. Another incident ahead with a resulting car in the middle of the circuit meant that he would concede another position going into the Lap 3. Euan kept position by fighting hard with the cars behind and managed to keep the car in the fight for the top 10 as he handed the car over to Tom with 35 mins to go. Tom was determined to finish the race strong, with Euan doing a great job saving the tyres in the first stint. Tom put some impressive laps in and started catching the battle ahead for P12/13 after a few cars retired ahead. Into Turn1 he faked a move up the inside putting the car in front wide. He managed to then capitalise on the bad run of the car in front which then promoted the Number 6 Aston Martin to P13. Quickly Tom was on the back of the slower Porsche ahead which he applied the same smart move to gaining them P12. After a few more retirees ahead, Tom did a great job of putting in strong lap times and keeping the car on the road. With only 5 mins left he caught the cars in front in the battle for P8 and P9 overall. Unfortunately it would be too late as the Tom’s tyres really dropped away from him, leading him to lose a well fought battle with the Still in the Porsche. Nevertheless, a P11 in the first race of the year and some valuable points was to be taken away as a positive.
Euan and Tom worked tirelessly Saturday evening to understand their lack of pace over their competitors. With the help of Aston Martin Racing, they were to try a different set up hugely different to their own.
With qualifying early on in the day, the circuit was to be in prime condition as Tom rolled out of the narrow pitlane. With tyre preparation key to a good lap time, he set about his procedure for the first half of qualifying. With around 7mins left he found some clear track and he went for his lap. The timing screens were set a light with Tom’s pace as he stormed across the line with all 4 sectors purple, taking pole position and the lap record with it. Tom felt he couldn’t go any faster, so he immediately camein to save tyres and got out of the car. As the chequered flag dropped, it was then official that he was on pole by a big margin of 0.25 of a second. Tom’s comments “I am delighted with that. I’m so proud of all the guys at Racing One for their hard work over night; this is for you.” The race was to have a rolling start, with Tom setting the pace. As the lights went green Tom got a great launch on his rivals and quickly built a large gap over the first lap. With some storming times on the board he built up a 3 second lead by near the end of his stint, still confident enough to save his tyres by doing so. With 30mins left of the race, there was an incident at the penultimate corner, meaning there was a large risk of a safety car. Racing One made the call of calling Tom into the pits not wanting to risk the lead they had built over the rest of the field. After a storming pit stop by the duo, Euan would set about keeping the lead which he did leading the pack by around 1.5 seconds. Another incident then meant that that gap diminished to nothing with 20 minutes of the 1 hour race still to go. After the safety car came in, Euan did a brilliant job in the restart keeping the pack behind him and building a buffer over P2. Still with around 1 second in hand he was looking comfortable, setting one of the quickest laps in his stint. With just 5 minutes left another incident meant another safety car was deployed. With just 2 laps to go the safety car pulled in, meaning it would be a frantic 2 lap dash to the end. Struggling on his tyreswas unable to build a lead like he did before which meant the rapid Allied racing Porsche behind caught and passed Euan. Euan rolled over the line in 2nd place, a heartbreakingly close finish.
Tom comments “ Of course I am gutted, we all are. But the positives are so clear. We come away with great points meaning we are P2 in the championship and the momentum which we definitely lacked on Friday and Saturday. I’m so proud of the team for their work; a massive thanks to them and also Aston Martin Racing for their guidance and help through the weekend- it means the world. We must keep our heads down and focus on the Red Bull ring now in just under a months’ time.”
Tom’s next race will be at the Red Bull ring in Austria on the 21/22 May. All races can be followed through Motorsport Tv’s website and German TV.