Team BRIT is proudly celebrating after its first race on the Le Mans circuit in the Aston Martin Le Mans Festival at the weekend.
The all-British team, consisting of disabled drivers, many of whom are injured military veterans, competed in the 45-minute support race on Saturday 16th June, held just prior to the annual endurance race. This made motorsport history, making them first all-disabled team to race on the La Sarthe circuit – a record they hope to gain in the Le Mans 24 hour.
Military veterans Warren McKinlay and Jamie Falvey drove as part of the two-man team, racing in the team’s Aston Martin V8 Vantage in only their second GT4 race to date.
The team lined up against 37 other teams on the start grid, with 24 cars in their GT4 class.
During free practise on Thursday, the first time the team’s car and drivers had been on the circuit, Jamie showed a strong pace against a very competitive field. He climbed to P3 by the end of the session but a front wishbone failure meant the car had to be recovered to the paddock after the end of the session. Heavy traffic around the track meant the car did not reach the team’s engineers in time to be fixed for the second practice session.
During Qualifying that afternoon, Warren went straight out with no experience of the circuit and gave a fantastic performance, taking the team to the middle of the pack straight away. Race rules state that each driver must complete a minimum of 3 laps in Qualifying, so Jamie then went back out, carrying on Warren’s momentum to reach P4.
Saturday saw the start of the race at 9:15am, and after some setup changes to the car, the team approached the challenge with optimism, confidence and determination – an attitude that paid off as Jamie took the team to P2 by the end of the first lap.
As the race progressed, with Jamie chasing down P1 at a second a lap, a safety car was deployed to control the pack around an incident on track. As the pit window opened, a marshal mistakenly indicated to Jamie to enter the pits at the wrong point, causing the team to drop 10 places to p12.
With Warren then taking over, he pushed hard to p9, navigating the slow zones from other incidents on track. A brief moment at the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight allowed a couple of cars past on the final lap, bringing the team home in a respectable p9 out of 24 teams.
CEO and Founder of Team BRIT, Dave Player said, “Racing at Le Mans, waving the British flag amongst an extremely high standard of cars and teams, at such an incredible event, was simply fantastic.
“Despite the bad luck which came our way and lost us a number of positions, we delivered a clean race, even amongst some chaotic times on track. Warren and Jamie did a brilliant job of staying out of trouble and putting their hours of simulator training to good use – delivering an impressive performance.
“Our technical team in the garage worked tirelessly to ensure our car was in top condition, even after a small problem after practice, and once again we demonstrated everything Team BRIT is about. We were clearly the most inexperienced team, racing on a budget that was miniscule compared to all other teams, and we were fighting for P1 in class before events out of our control changed that.
“This is what we do. We prove people wrong by demonstrating our British grit and passion and we take on every challenge full force. We are absolutely determined to reach the Le Mans 24 hour and we will do this. This was a huge step forward for us and I am incredibly proud of the hard work the entire team put in – showing the world just how serious we are.”
Details of the team’s next GT4 race will be released soon. The team’s rookies will compete in the Fun Cup Championship at Silverstone on Saturday 28th July.