Andrew Howard ready for GT World Challenge in Imola

By Colin and James Beckett

By Zoe Ashton
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 4:01 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 4:04 pm
SEASON STARTS THIS WEEKEND: Andrew Howard will be in action at Imola in Italy for the first GT World Challenge Europe race of 2022.

SEASON STARTS THIS WEEKEND: Andrew Howard will be in action at Imola in Italy for the first GT World Challenge Europe race of 2022.

Andrew Howard and his Beechdean Aston Martin Racing team will be in action at Imola this weekend when the 2022 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS starts at the Italian Circuit Enzo e Dino Ferrari write Colin and James Beckett.

Howard will share driving duties across the weekend with French duo, Theo Nouet and Valentin Hasse Clot, in an Aston Martin Vantage GT3, with the the trio contesting the Gold Cup class of the Stephane Ratel Organisation championship. The Vale-based racer, and his new team-mates, recently took part in the GT World Challenge pre-season test at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, and are looking for a strong showing this weekend and during Sunday's season opening three-hour race.

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Howard's Beechdean Ice Cream-supported car will carry the number 97 for the season, and will be joined on-track by another team car that will compete with an all-star Aston Martin 'factory supported' line-up in the Pro class of the series. Maxime Martin, Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim will drive a Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 carrying the number 95.

Howard says, "We are really looking forward to the new season. We enjoyed a good test at Paul Ricard, and since then we have named our full line-up of drivers for the season. The GT World Challenge Europe has again attracted a large number of cars, and the Endurance element of the series looks particularly strong. We can't wait to get started this weekend."

Speaking of joining Beechdean AMR for the 2022 season, Nicki Thiim said, "I think it is fair to say all the drivers in car 95 are looking forward very much to 2022. The Aston Martin is a really good car and we hope to be in a position to challenge for top results throughout the season."

Fifty-two cars are entered for the race, the largest entry for a GT World Challenge race outside of the Total 24 Hours of Spa since 2018, with the 4.9km anti-clockwise Imola track having made its debut in the championship back in 2020. All of the major GT race car manufacturers are set to be represented, with the Belgian WRT Audi squad starting the year as reigning champions. Dries Vanthoor, Charles Weerts and Kelvin van der Linde will lead the team's attack, although all eyes will be on their number 46 Audi R8 driven by multiple Moto GP world champion, Valentino Rossi, who is joined by Audi factory racers, Frederic Vervisch and Nico Muller.

The 2022 GT World Challenge Europe consists of ten events, with the Endurance Cup taking place over five rounds. This weekend's race in Italy starts the season, with further races scheduled for Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps, Hockenheim and Barcelona.

* A number of Vale-based motorcycle racers will be in action at Leicestershire's Mallory Park on Sunday. The East Midland Racing Association (EMRA) will start their club racing season at the popular lakeside track.