Ecurie EcosseEcurie Ecosse brought the curtain down on their maiden Blancpain Endurance Series campaign with another competitive display at Spanish circuit Navarra last weekend (13/14 October) despite pro driver Ollie Millroy being restricted to just four racing laps after heavy rain washed out the latter stages of the three-hour contest.

The Scottish squad fielded Blancpain regulars Millroy, Andrew Smith and Joe Twyman aboard their Barwell Motorsport-run BMW Z4 GT3 hoping to build on a strong run to 10th in the Pro-Am class during last month’s Nurburgring event. It would be no easy task however, with the tight and twisty nature of the 3.9km Circuito de Navarra playing to the strengths of their chief rivals.

Saturday’s qualifying session was a typically close-fought affair that saw Ecosse looking to extract the maximum from their 2011-spec Z4. Millroy’s lap time suggested that he had done exactly that, the youngster circulating just one second shy of the 2012-spec Z4 fielded by overall title contenders Marc VDS Racing. That left both the team and BMW Motorsport satisfied and ensured a mid-grid slot of 14th in class and 26th overall.

Come race day the Scottish outfit maintained its tried and tested strategy of deploying Smith and Twyman for the opening stages, during which the pairing have traditionally pushed the BMW forward, before tasking Millroy with going on the offensive and gaining several positions during the final hour.

Smith took the start and produced a fast and consistent stint, during which he maintained a competitive pace to keep the team’s plan well on target. Following just over an hour aboard the car he ducked into the pits to hand over to Twyman in 25th overall.

Joe took no time settling into a good rhythm, displaying impressive pace and quickly nabbing a position. With dark skies overhead soon producing heavy rain the team elected to leave Twyman on-track longer than planned so as to combine their scheduled re-fuelling stop with a switch to treaded Michelin rubber.

This looked set to pay high dividends for the Ecosse squad as, with the track becoming wetter, many of their rivals lost time slithering around on slicks. Unfortunately, the safety car was deployed shortly after Millroy took the wheel to begin his charge, the youngster subsequently spending seven laps under neutralised conditions.

Worse still, the Ecurie Ecosse BMW was queued behind a Ferrari that had remained on slick tyres and was now struggling to keep pace with the safety car. With no overtaking allowed Millroy was forced to crawl around behind the slick-shod machine when he should have been snapping at the heels of the front-running pack. To compound their frustration, the overall race leader soon pitted and was able to re-join ahead of the Ecosse car, costing Millroy a lap he would have regained were it not for the slow-running Ferrari.

When racing resumed Millroy wasted no time in making up lost ground, dispatching a number of cars to climb to P11 in class and 21st overall. But luck would again fall against the Ecosse squad as the rain became so heavy as to enforce a second safety car period that would last until the race’s conclusion. The team’s finishing position on the cusp of the class top-10 was impressive, but they were left in no doubt that better-still was possible had luck fallen their way.

Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “I’m delighted with our first season running the Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 and thrilled by the fantastic support we’ve received from BMW Motorsport and all of our sponsors. The car and driver package has been competitive at every race this season and the Barwell pit crew have been faultless. With new cars now on the way 2013 can’t come soon enough.”

Joe Twyman, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “Despite the result not really reflecting our pace this weekend I am extremely pleased to have finished the year on such a high. I would like to thank the whole Barwell team for their efforts as they have provided faultless support throughout the year. We will be working hard over the winter to put together a programme for Blancpain in 2013.”

Andrew Smith, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “We did everything we could at Navarra but the safety car situation prevented us from taking a top result. I really enjoyed my stint: the start was mayhem but very exciting. As always it was a pleasure to drive with Ollie and Joe and we’re now working hard on next year.”

Ollie Millroy, Ecurie Ecosse driver: “It was a shame that the final 50 minutes of my stint were spent behind the safety car as I felt we could have challenged for a Pro-Am podium. However, we have to accept that this is racing and all in all it was another fantastic weekend for both myself and the team. I am really looking forward to working on my plans for 2013.”

Photo by Brecht Deranq.