Norfolk racer Dan Eagling rallies to take third place after mixed campaign in British GT4

Dan Eagling (on the right) and Matt Smith (on left) collecting their trophies for third place in the British GT4 Championship Dan Eagling (on the right) and Matt Smith (on left) collecting their trophies for third place in the British GT4 Championship

Thursday, December 19, 2013
6:30 AM

Dan Eagling’s season finished as it started with a damaged car to repair but inbetween he, along with team-mate Matt Smith, secured third place in the British GT4 category.

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“One of the biggest issues I had was getting the large trophy home,” smiled the Dereham racer. “I was dreading the journey on the tube but it turned into a party atmosphere with fellow travellers, including a group from America, taking photos with me and the trophy. It ended a brilliant evening.”

The British GT series is probably the strongest of the national championships in Europe at the moment which compromised the Redgate/Lifetime Racing team as Smith was the least experienced driver on the grid.

While the Norfolk racer could turn-in category leading lap times, Smith, who had limited experience in national level racing, found the Ginetta G50 GT4 machine difficult to come to terms with.

The season started at Oulton Park but the pair never got to compete as Smith’s inexperience became apparent when he crashed on the first lap of qualifying in wet conditions.

“If we could have finished fourth in both of the races we would have led the championship going into the final round,” explained Eagling, surveying the damaged car in his Shipdham workshop.

After the British GT series finished Smith’s father Peter, with whom he had driven with in the Britcar series in 2012, entered the Norfolk tended GT car for the final meeting of the season at Brands Hatch.

The elder Smith mirrored his son’s exploits by crashing on the opening lap of qualifying, bending the rear suspension and wrecking the front bodywork.

“A disappointing way to end the year,” said Eagling of the team patron’s accident.

Smith and Eagling’s season started at round two with third place in the two-hour race at Rockingham with Eagling setting the category pole to demonstrate the potential speed of the Norfolk team.

Silverstone followed with another scintillating display from Eagling to out qualify all of the regular British GT4 runners to take second place in category to the visiting European BMW M3 GT4 of Ricardo van der Ende & Bernhard van Oranje, resulting in a seventh-placed finish.

The team’s home race of Snetterton followed and fourth place was secured in the opening event while Smith took over from Eagling in race two but lost the lead four laps from the end to finish in third place.

Brands Hatch followed with the local driver securing second spot on the grid followed by another third place in the two-hour event.

The team’s only victory came at Zandvoort. “Matt spent most of his session behind the safety car,” explained Eagling. “We took what we were given and I was able to take over and race home to take the win.”

Race two saw the crew finish in second place before a third place in the final round at Donington secured third place in the series.

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