PRE-SEASON TEST: The Beechdean AMR team have been in action at Paul Ricard this week (Photo SRO)
Andrew Howard's Beechdean Aston Martin Racing squad have been in action at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France this week, as Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe competitors took part in their pre-season test sessions write Colin and James Beckett.
Howard's Vale-based GT team joined forty other GT cars for a two-day test at the track that hosts the French round of the FIA F1 World Championship, in a test session that officially launched the international GT season.
Driving the Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 alongside former British GT champion Howard, was 2020 GT4 European champion, Theo Nouet, and Aston Martin regular, Valentin Hasse-Clot. The latter enjoying good experience of the marque's GT3 car, having previously raced for Beechdean and Garage 59 in GT3 sanctioned events.
The Paul Ricard track hosts one of the feature Fanatec GT World Challenge events of the season, the 1000km of Paul Ricard set to take place during early summer, and forming a round of the World Challenge's Endurance Cup competition. Speaking during the test, Howard said, "We are really pleased to be able to grant both Theo and Valentin the chance to drive our car here at Paul Ricard. We are working hard for the start of the season, and GT3 racing once again looks very strong."
Clocking the fastest time on the opening day of the test was Raffaele Marciello, the AMG Mercedes factory-supported driver, setting the pace for the French AKKA ASP team. Eyes at the test were also focussed on the launch of the number 46 Audi R8 GT3 Evo2 that will be raced throughout the season by multiple world Moto GP champion, Valentino Rossi. Rossi is scheduled to contest all rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe in his WRT car, which includes the British round at Brands Hatch in April.
* Vale-based racer, Chris Metcalfe, was not in France this week but is scheduled to race a GT3 car at Spa-Francorchamps in July. Metcalfe is continuing his preparations to return to track for the 2022 season, and has already announced intentions to drive a Ferrari 488 GT3 car. Metcalfe said this week, "I have been watching this pre-season test with interest, and as always the competition looks tough. With entries re-opening for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and numerous GT3 offerings on the table for the Total 24 Hours of Spa, things are looking quite exciting at the moment."