GT3 Report: A late change in Tim Sugden’s plans meant that Trackspeed were after another quick driver to pair alongside the team owner David Ashburn, so a few days before the FIA GT event in Oschersleben Sean got a call from team manager Riki to ask if he could drive the GT2 and GT3 car. Prospeed having already signed the young Brit for GT2 meant only GT3 would be possible.
“It was a last minute call and it did mean a busy schedule between two teams, but I was up for it.” Sean explained… “We had some technical issued in both practice sessions, which was unfortunate as this put us on the back foot regarding the setup for qualifying. So David had to enter it blind, with a setup based on Adria and qualified in a very respectable 22nd place. We made a few modifications to the car in between the sessions and I just went for it, matching the pole position time in sector one and two, but as I exited the last corner I saw the red flags, a Viper had crashed heavily and this meant my lap was over! I went out afterwards, but the tyres had gone past their best and I could only manage 9th.”
The first race and David made a tremendous start, going from 22nd to 16th! He then battled hard and held off the other two Porsche’s to bring the car to Edwards in a very solid 15th place. The Muhlner Porsche was let out of the pits early and jumped Trackpeed, braking at the end of the pit lane to avoid getting a penalty for being under 70 seconds, nearly taking out the hot pursuing Trackspeed car in the process… Edwards set his sights on Marc Basseng and reeled him in over the coming laps, they were both pushing as hard as they could and carved their way up to 8th and 9th places, but in the final laps the pressure got to Basseng and he spun allowing Edwards to take 8th overall and 1st in the Porsche class!
The second race was less fortunate, after a good start Sean was up to 6th place, but a loose radiator half way round the first lap, followed by an off track exertion on the coolant put an early end to their race.
Trackspeed now looks forwards to the Spa 24 hours where they will be concentrating on GT2 only and have high hopes of a good result after the bad luck in GT2 at Oschersleben.
“I received a call on Thursday afternoon from my manager Phil Hindley, to drive with Oliver Morley in the Muhlner Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S in the first two rounds of the FIA European GT3 championship” Sean recalled.
Last minute situations are never perfect, let alone, having never driven a 997 GT3 Cup ‘S’, but Sean relished the challenge to return to the series, that he won in 2006.
The practice sessions went well for the team, with Edwards sticking the Porsche in the P2 spot both times. Morley was struggling with the very unfamiliar Porsche in the first session, but made significant progress in the second one and started to get his head round the rear engine machine.
Qualifying saw Edwards go out early on and stick the Porsche on provisional pole, with an amazing single flying lap of 1.49.6, 0.2 faster than his 2007 GT2 time in the 997 RSR! Unfortunately the rapid Morgan piped him with only two minutes to go from the top spot, but it was a front row start for the Porsche ace. Morley improved his practice time by a full second and ended up 33rd, but with only a few tenths more he would have gained significant places in this ultra tight field.
Race one saw Morley starting from 33rd and put in a great fight to bring the car up to 25th when he handed over to Edwards for the remainder of the race. There was no hanging around for the young Brit, overtaking three positions on his out lap alone! He was absolutely flying in the Muhlner prepared Porsche, by far the fastest man on track, fighting his way all the way up to 8th place before being handed a drive through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags… This dropped them down to 18th place, but Edwards didn’t give up and fought his way back to 13th in the final three laps of the race, overtaking both rival Porsche’s on the last lap to secure P2 in the Porsche category.
The second race got underway with Edwards trying to attack the Morgan for the lead, but to no avail as the other cars had too much of a power advantage over the Porsche and he dropped down to 4th place on lap one. He soon set his sights on the 3rd placed Ford GT, which he passed at Luffield on lap two and then went after the 2nd place Corvette, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. The 2nd place car made a mistake around lap ten which gave Edwards a chance he didn’t pass up and grabbed P2. The Morgan had a sizeable gap now, but Edwards eroded the advantage held by the Morgan and by the time the pit stops came around, he was right on the Morgan’s bumper when he handed over to Morley. A mix up in the pits lost the team a lot of time and the car dropped back to P5, with some faster cars closing in, they finished 10th in the end, losing out on 1st place in the Porsche category with two laps to go against the sister Muhlner car.
Sean said “I am happy with how the weekend has gone, it’s really nice to see the Porsche being competitive in GT3 again, as it has not been near the front since we won back in 2006. The team did an excellent job with the setup and preparation of the car and we were quick straight out of the box. Oliver progressed a lot over this weekend with the Porsche and we worked closely together to see where he could improve in this car and he did very well.”
Oliver commented “I am used to driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini, so the Porsche was completely different and a very hard car to drive I have to say, but it was great fun and a good experience. Sean did a really fantastic job, he was flying in the car all weekend! We got a top 10 in the second race which I am happy with and I am hoping to be back in this championship again, as I loved the racing.”
“I got the call today from my manager Phil Hindley to see if I was available and although very last minute I am looking forward to working with the team and Oliver for the first time. The last time I raced GT3 was back in 2006 and we won, so I expect to pick up where I left off and do a good job this weekend as I am sure the Porsche is more competitive now then it was back then. The weather looks suspect for this weekend too and these cars are superb to drive in the wet and I know the track very well, which brought me victory last year in the British GP Porsche Supercup race!” commented Sean.
So it looks like a strong pairing for the first round of FIA GT3 this weekend in the Muhlner Porsche and I suspect we will see a good result from the pair.
Sean Edwards was asked if he could come and help with the commentary for the FIA GT3 championship, which he won last year. He accepted and tried his hand at commentating on the first race of the 2007 FIA GT3 Championship and the feedback from the fans and TV directors was so good that he has been asked to do it for the whole season.
“I really enjoyed it, it was a different experience to watch and commentate on a race from behind the scenes and really interesting to see how it all works. It looks easy from the outside, but I can tell you that it is a very hard job for them, especially when going out live to thousands of people!” said Sean. “I will be helping them out for the rest of the year now, with what little time I can spare during the FIA GT weekends.”
“I was a bit nervous to begin with, but once I got into it, I found it really enjoyable and fun, so it is one more thing to keep me busy on the weekends and I am really looking forward to doing it for the rest of the year.”
Sean ca be heard live on Men and Motors for both the GT3 races on Saturday and Sunday. The TV schedule will be updated for each and every weekend that the FIA GT3 championship is run.
Sean Edwards has made history in being the first ever FIA GT3 European Champion, with his two victories at Mugello securing it for him. He also won the Porsche class Championship and helped Tech 9 Motorsport to clinch the Constructors Championship! He is one of the youngest International Champions ever and his future is looking bright. He said “I cannot believe I have just won the FIA GT3 Championship! It’s such an amazing feeling and I don’t think it will fully sink in for a good few weeks yet.”
He secured the championship on his own, because he had two co drivers during the season. This was because Dimitris Deverikos had financial troubles in the later part of the season and was replaced by Phil Keen. Edwards said “It was a real shame to loose Dimitris, because we worked very well together and he got three second places with me, but Phil stepped in and did a great job, clinching three victories and helping me to the championships”
When asked about how Sean felt about being the first FIA GT3 Champion he said “It’s just such a great feeling, I can’t explain it really, but we came into this season thinking we could get some good results, but to win the championship in my first ever GT season is just fantastic! Everyone is so professional at Tech 9 and we all worked so well together and in the end it showed, with us taking all three championships available.”
Sean is looking to compete in either GT1, GT2 or maybe even the ultra competitive Porsche Supercup next season. He said “I seem to go well in Porsche’s, so it might be a good idea to try a one make series of Porsche’s, like Supercup. It’s one of the most competitive championships in the world and would be a great proving ground for me! I am open to do anything at the moment really, there is a chance to race GT2 in the new Porsche 997 RSR with Tech 9 next year, which would be great. GT1 and GT2 are viable options, but I will wait too see what offers come over the winter and make a decision after that.”