Monday night saw three Beast Racing cars on track in the World GT Championship Media Night, as teams and drivers prepared for its fifth running. The event was held at Silverstone using the Historic Grand Prix layout, and showcased the series’ great mix of powerful GTE machinery – normally seen in longer, endurance-type events – and frantic 20-minute sprint races, of which there would be three on the night.
UK Drivers Tom Jacobs and Steve Burke would be piloting two Porsche 991 RSRs, with Chaz Draycott behind the wheel of a Ford GT LM. It would be the trio’s third season working together, after having limited success over the two previous instalments in GT3 machinery. All three drivers would be competing for the Drivers’ AM Championship, and collectively making an attempt on the AM Teams’ Championship.
During the three hour Practice Session that headed up the event, it seemed that the series’ change to GTE machinery had certainly favoured Jacobs and Burke. They were confident in their setup and the Porsche’s agility. This was made abundantly clear as they were near the top of the AM category timing sheets throughout, and ended up 1st and 3rd respectively when the session came to an end – separated by just 0.280 seconds.
Draycott fared differently, struggling to click with his Ford, with setups either being quick but almost undriveable, or safe to drive, yet off the pace. He ended the session 1.152s back from his teammates in 28th overall, but 7th in class.
Qualifying featured very variable conditions, with the track temperature rising and falling by up to 5 degrees celsius over the course of a lap, so getting something consistent together was proving difficult. Steve and Tom were once again inseparable, finishing just 0.016 apart in 3rd and 4th, with Chaz in 6th despite choosing to run a safe setup that was slightly down on pace in Practice.
Race 1 was a relatively calm affair by World GT Championship standards, until Lap 2. A multi-car collision out of Copse saw Steve’s efforts curtailed as he got caught up in it, and caused damage to the #5 machine of Jacobs. He was now however, in the AM Class lead, but coming under increasing pressure from Porsche driver Lee Deamer.
Chaz had made his way through without incident and got up to third in class, desperately trying to divert Deamer’s attention from Tom’s ailing Porsche. However, it all came undone as multiple bits of contact into the last two corners saw the Simmortal 991 RSR across the nose of Tom’s car, with Chaz hitting the rear of both for good measure as they came to a standstill. Despite him carrying damage from that incident, he kept the class lead and eventually came home to win the AM Class in the team’s debut in the Championship. Steve would also recover from his earlier shunt to come home 4th in class.
For Season 5, the Championship had reduced the number of cars eligible for their random reverse grid draws, and this worked in Steve and Chaz’s favour as they would start from 2nd and 6th on the grid for Race 2, with AM Class rival Michael Blake bagging pole position. Tom would start 37th overall after his incident in Race 1, hoping to make up places and get lucky with the Reverse Grid draw for Race 3.
Blake led the first four laps of the Race with Steve and Team MAD Pro Driver Chris Wood in hot pursuit. Steve made a mistake on Lap 5 at Stowe and dropped a handful of places, but the car was good to carry on, undamaged. Tom was making his way up the order gradually, picking off drivers one-by-one, while Chaz had stayed quite stationary in terms of position.
On Lap 8, Blake threw away the lead with a big spin through Maggotts and Becketts, giving Beast Racing a provisional one-two in the AM Class. With Chaz 2nd in class with another 7 positions back to the next AM, Steve had an easy ride to the end, but made contact with CQR Driver Michael Hall with two corners to go. He managed to recover and still finish on the AM podium while Chaz took his second class win of the night. Tom kept his nose clean and drove brilliantly to finish 24th overall and 8th in Class.
For the final race of the night, Steve started from 4th with Chaz in 7th. Tom would be getting under way from 23rd. As the field of 41 GTE machines made their way round Silverstone as dusk fell, it made for a beautiful sight. Chaz made a mistake through the very fast Bridge corner on Lap 2, and luckily didn’t hit anybody, but he fell down the order. He followed that up shortly after by spinning at Maggotts and Becketts, adding further frustration to what had been a successful night so far.
Steve was 2nd in the AM Category all the way through, with rival and AM leader Michael Blake making a mistake with two laps to go, giving Steve the opportunity to go for the win. Unfortunately it didn’t pay off – both cars came together and went off track, but they were able to continue. Steve still brought it home in 4th to round out a very consistent evening.
Our highlight of the third race was the performance by Tom Jacobs in the #5 machine – he started 23rd overall, stayed out of trouble and managed to finish 13th – 3rd in class, giving Beast Racing a car on the podium in each of the three races, and at least one podium per driver – a solid performance for the team’s debut in the series.
“The Porsche was a pleasure to drive tonight – it showed some fantastic grip and had great trail braking ability. I especially loved the race into the night. Personally I got some good results and showed decent pace – we should see Beast Racing do well in the season ahead – I’ve cetainly got my sights set high!” -Steve
“The Porsche felt absolutely great – matching times with the Pros in Practice and Qualifying showed us that the Beast Racing 991 RSR has some real promise for the up and coming season. I had to retire in race one due to suspension failure after a collision, which saw us start 37th on the grid for race 2, but we fought our way back up over the course of the night to eventually get another podium for the team. Steve and I are showing real promise in the Porsche, and Chaz is in that Ford, too. Together, with the team, I know we can make a big impact this season in the AM Class. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’re getting there.” -Tom
“Taking two AM class wins tonight feels absolutely incredible! After struggling in Practice and Qualifying, this Beast Racing Ford GT came good with race pace. It’s so rewarding to see our cars on the podium in every race tonight, and I think we have a real shot at the AM Teams Championship this season. Hopefully I’ll be in the running for the AM Drivers Championship, and if Tom and Steve continue at the pace they’re at in those Porsches, there’s no reason they won’t be up there as well.” -Chaz
Season 5 of the World GT Championship gets under way on Monday the 14th of January, and will be broadcast on the iRacing eSports Network from 20:00 GMT.