22GT Racing is a true example of bulldog spirit. The Midlands based team has returned to the big time national racing spotlight in the British GT Championship for 2015, racing in the top GT3 category with their Aston Martin V12 Vantage. However, the season has been a completely mixed bag for them. Top 10 finishes in an ultra-competitive series have been punctuated by misfortune whilst at the crest of a wave. But the team has been undaunted, brushing off the dust, patching up the cracks and as the season comes to a close the team are moving ever closer to the sharp end of the British GT pack. We approached them for a Q&A following a true rollercoaster ride of a season so far! Nathan Harrison (Team Manager) and their two GT3 drivers, Jon Barnes and Mark Farmer, took time out from the race weekend at Snetterton to answer some questions. And just so you’re aware, Snetterton was the wettest race since Noah sent two birds out to get to the olive branch first….
- What was behind the decision to return to the British GT championship this season.
Nathan Harrison (NH): It was all down to Mark and Jon wanting to race, you can’t do it if you don’t have anyone willing to pay to run in a championship.
2. You’d ran the Aston DBRS9 previously. What are the biggest changes between that and the Vantage V12?
NH: The Vantage V12 is a lot better racing car compared to the DBRS9 as it was built as a racing car not a road car that has been adapted to go racing. The DBRS9 is a ten year old GT car, this is a modern GT car – so obviously it’s quicker and easier to work on.
3. How big of a plus was it to sign Jon Barnes (a previous British GT champion) as your pro driver?
NH: Well every team has its flaws doesn’t it! (Laughs) No – Jon’s input is invaluable and his positive attitude in every situation is highly commendable.
4. Mark Farmer has made a big step up to GT from Caterhams. What qualities did he bring to the team from a relatively short career?
NH: Mark’s obviously still learning each round as we go, you know. I think that he’s learning quickly and obviously helped by Jon with Jon’s coaching. But he’s getting better and better and I think he knows the areas where he needs to improve which is a big plus because if a driver doesn’t know where he can improve, he won’t improve and I’m impressed with how Mark wants to improve and wants to be the best and be the best he can possible be.
5. The team has faced some big challenges in the British GT season, how are the team feeling as a whole as we come to the end of the season?
Mark Farmer (MF): We need some luck, don’t we? And we’ve had lots of bad luck – some of which we’ve made for ourselves and some of which has been thrust upon us but I think we need some more help with setting the car up – I think that’s where our major disadvantage is and I think that’s evident from the fact our race pace is pretty good. Our qualifying pace is not. So I think we’re on a fairly level playing field in the race but a massive difference in qualifying and that sets us back a lot because trying to do anything from the back of the grid is really really difficult, it’s so competitive – so feeling despondent but encouraged!
6. What has been the toughest problem you have faced this year, and what would you say is the biggest success?
Jon Barnes (JB): The biggest challenge we’ve faced this year without a doubt is qualifying pace, trying to get the car to work well on new tyres and because we’re qualifying so poorly that’s masking our race pace as we get held up for the first 5-10 laps of the race and actually when we get the gap we’re as quick as the race leaders like we showed at Brands so we just need to qualify better – if we get the car working better in qualifying then we can be right up there in the top ten and possible even top 5 and then we get a chance of a podium in the races but at the moment we’re really hampered by our qualifying pace. The biggest success was probably Mark’s driving at Brands, getting from 13th or 14th in the start up to P7 by the pit stop. Same as Silverstone – so Mark’s getting plenty of overtaking practice just because we’re qualifying so poorly and showing that his race pace when he avoids incidents and doesn’t have any bad luck his race pace is really good.
MF: At Silverstone we had a commanding lead due to a levelling of the playing field in the wet weather where we performed pretty well and also an epic strategy call which put us two and a half minutes in the lead for a quite significant period of the race, until we crashed.
MF: … Until I crashed
7. What are your aims for the final rounds of the British GT season?
JB: We’re still desperate for a podium, the target at the start of the year was to catch a podium finish before the end of the year and then that would give us a good little springboard for 2016 so that’s still the aim – that’ll give us something solid to build on next year. Hopefully we can do that, there’s 3 races left this year – 2 races today at Snetterton but this weekend’s going to be difficult but you never know, and then a two hour race at Donington, there’s an opportunity there to get a good result. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.