Chester-born sportscar racer Andy Meyrick puts in a fighting drive at the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series to help secure a top ten result for M-Sport Bentley on the series competition debut of the new Bentley Continental GT3. Together with his British teammates of Guy Smith and Steven Kane, Andy drove superbly to set the team up for an 8th place finish at the Northern Italian track of Monza.
Andy's race weekend got off to a rollercoaster start, with Steven Kane qualifying the car in 4th position before losing control on his final and fastest qualifying lap and damaging the front of the car. An incredible overnight rebuild by the M-Sport Bentley mechanics meant that the #7 Bentley was ready to race on Sunday, and it was Andy that took the wheel for the start of the race.
As the lights went green at the rolling start, Andy successfully gained two places to move up to 2nd, taking one Ferrari 458 down the main straight and another at the first chicane. He then battled with the same two cars for 15 laps, keeping them behind him despite repeated contact. The fight eventually took its toll on the rear tyres, and Andy had to cede the place to the now faster Ferraris. When they then touched and dropped oil directly in front of Andy, only a masterful piece of car control prevented him hitting the wall as the car slid on the greasy track - but almost ten seconds were lost.
Andy pitted the car in 7th handing over to Guy Smith. Guy and Steven were able to bring the car home in 8th after another 64 laps.
Speaking after the race, Andy comments: "I'm really pleased with this opening result. While it's always frustrating to lose places from our starting position, for a new team with a new car a top ten finish is fantastic, and a really good starting point for the season ahead. I had a very enjoyable battle with the two Ferraris in the first half of my stint, despite one of them hitting me twice, and the car was really good to drive. I then had to manage some rear tyre degradation which slowed me a little, and then I almost lost control when one of the cars in front dropped oil. There are definitely some improvements to be made, but the Continental GT3 is showing huge potential and I'm convinced we can be fighting at the front."
Andy’s next race will be in the DeltaWing at Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on 3-4 May, before returning to the UK for the second round of the Blancpain championship at Silverstone over the weekend of 24th-25th May. He's hoping that the British fans will be out in force:
"I'm really looking forward to Silverstone. We're an all-British team driving one of the most recognisable and famed British cars in the world, and we'll be pushing for a strong finish on home soil. We've learnt so much this weekend, and we'll put it all in to practice at the next race. Bring it on!"
Follow Andy’s progress on his website www.andymeyrick.com/news or on Twitter @andymeyrick