The GKR TradePriceCars.com team enjoyed a points scoring end to the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championship season in tricky conditions at Brands Hatch.
The award-winning, Essex-based motor dealership headed to the Kent circuit looking to build on the progress that series rookies Paul Rivett and Ethan Hammerton had made on their debuts with the team in the previous meeting at Snetterton.
With just one practice session taking place as a result of the condensed schedule for the weekend – changed to factor in the reduction in daylight hours – both Paul and Ethan were keen to maximise their time on track, particularly when the session kicked off in tricky damp conditions.
The pair would complete a combined total of more than 80 laps across the session, with Paul ending up 24th and Ethan in 27th, but with both drivers taking more confidence into the lunchtime qualifying session.
Although conditions would be even more tricky come qualifying after more rain started to fall, multiple Clio Cup UK champion Paul made the most of his extensive knowledge of the Kent circuit to secure a hugely impressive ninth on the grid, improving his lap time by more than a second to line up just behind championship leader Colin Turkington on the grid.
Ethan would also make huge strides forward compared to practice, with his fastest lap being a second quicker than he had managed earlier on as he put the sister car 23rd on the grid for race one.
Heavy rain overnight and further showers across the morning made conditions even more difficult for the opening race, and a poor start for Paul saw him drop down the order to end the first lap back in 15th place.
Briefly knocked out of the points-scoring positions, Paul would be embroiled in one of the battles of the race with Aiden Moffat, Stephen Jelley and Jack Goff, and overcame the challenge of the latter pair to secure 15th and the final championship point – whilst he was also the leading Jack Sears Trophy runner.
An off at Paddock Hill Bend in the early stages saw Ethan slip to the back of the field but a safety car period then allowed him to close up to the rear of the pack ahead. After the restart, he was able to make up places to cross the line in 22nd, having shown he had the pace to run higher up the order.
Even though the circuit wasn’t fully dry, the team made the decision to go with slick tyres for the second race of the weekend but Paul again struggled to get the car away from the line and slipped down the order to 24th on the opening lap.
Recovering up the order to get back into the top 20, Paul then suffered a spin at Paddock Hill Bend after oil leaking from the diff got onto a tyre and came to rest in the middle of the circuit; luckily without being collected by any of the cars following behind.
He would recover to finish in 23rd spot, just ahead of Ethan after he managed to come through the challenging conditions to bring his car home in 24th spot, improving his pace across the 24 lap encounter.
The final race of the season would see the rain return and meant conditions were far from easy for the pair on track in what was the final outing for the Audi in the series.
A solid run from Paul saw him fight his way up into the top 20 to secure 17th place, whilst Ethan was forced to pit mid-way through the race as he struggled with visibility issues before ending up in 24th spot.
The team now turns focus to the 2021 season following the announcement of a new tie-up with the EXCELR8 Motorsport team that will see it switch to the Hyundai i30 N Fastback for its third year in the series.
Ethan Hammerton, #23 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“It’s been a tough weekend with the weather. Qualifying went okay and we knew where we needed to improve and the opening race we made up some progress to finish in 22nd and I wanted to try and move up further in race two. It looked like it would dry on the out lap and we went with slicks at the last minute, but it was hard in the opening stages to find the grip and hard to make up ground.
“Race three was tough as the car was steaming up and I struggled to see, but we got the car to the finish again. The weather has thrown everything at us this weekend but there are positives for us to take away from it and I’ve enjoyed my run with the team across the last two rounds.”
Paul Rivett, #222 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“Qualifying was the real highlight for me this weekend and to put the car inside the top ten on the grid was brilliant and something I was really pleased about. Clearly however, I need to practice my starts a bit as they let me down a bit, but it isn’t easy to get the power down in these cars when the conditions are like that!
“To come back and score some points after a bad start in race one was really good and it was a shame in race two that we had the spin after some oil leaked from the diff, as without that, I think we would have won the Jack Sears Trophy this weekend. As it was, we had to come from the back in race three, and to get up to 17th was good in the conditions.
“These two rounds have shown me that this is where I want to be in the future as I’ve really enjoyed it, and hopefully I can get the sponsors onboard to do a full season in 2021.”
Dan Kirby, TradePriceCars.com team owner, said:
“This has been a tough year for us all with the pandemic so credit to everyone in the paddock for us being able to complete the season, even though it has been a shame not to have fans watching on. On the whole, we’ve had a solid year with some good results for all of our drivers, and had things gone slightly different, we could have had a title at the end of it. Our time with the Audi is now at an end, and we’re looking forward to the future and chasing success in the coming seasons with the Hyundai.”