It was a strong performance from Patrick Kibble on his British GT debut as the Aston Martin Racing Academy Driver qualified in sixth place in his maiden British GT qualifying before going on to secure a fifth place finish in race one and collect his first haul of championship points.
The first round of the 2019 British GT Championship took Patrick and his TF Sport team to Oulton Park to contest the opening race weekend of the season. Not only was the weekend Patrick’s first in British GT and his first with TF Sport, it was also Patrick’s first race weekend in the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and his first as an Aston Martin Racing Academy Driver.
After completing a full day of testing in the week running up to round one, Patrick headed into the first official day of the season with some mileage around the 2.642-mile circuit underneath his belt.
Paired with Josh Price for the 2019 campaign, the #95 got Saturday’s action off to a solid start as the pairing finished the first practice session of the weekend in seventh place in the GT4 Silver Class. Continuing to progress, Patrick and his team-mate then finished the second practice session of the day in 5th place as the team prepared for the year’s first qualifying session.
Patrick was then selected to do the first of the two qualifying sessions and instantly marked his arrival in the GT4 class with a stellar performance in his debut qualifying appearance. Stringing together a competitive lap time of 1:44.377, Patrick qualified the #95 Aston Martin in sixth place in the GT4 class - a result Patrick was very happy with.
“I was really pleased with my performance in qualifying and it’s a great way to start the year off," he said. "There was probably a couple of tenths left out on track that could have moved us up the order a bit but, in general, I’m very happy with my qualifying performance.”
Patrick’s team-mate then took the second qualifying session and secured a 12th place starting position in the GT4 class, 8th in the GT4 Silver class, for race two of the weekend in Cheshire.
Race one of the season saw Patrick take the start and in the beaming sunshine. Patrick got a strong start when the lights went out and managed to move himself up to fifth place before turn one. Continuing to stay on the tail of the car ahead for his stint, Patrick was delivering quick and consistent lap times - showcasing his ability behind the wheel.
Recording four laps in a row in the 1:45’s, Patrick then recorded the car’s fastest lap of the race - and sixth fastest overall on lap 15 - before coming in for his mandatory pit and driver change three laps later.
Handing the car over to Josh Price from fourth place, an issue during the pitstop meant that when Josh rejoined the race they had dropped down to sixth place.
However, with the clock winding down, the #5 McLaren GT4 began to slow as smoke billowed from the rear and it was forced to retire from the race, promoting the #95 Aston Martin up the order to fifth place, from where it took the chequered flag to reward Patrick and his teammate their first points of the season.
“I’m delighted to finish my first British GT race in P5!" Patrick said. "I was really pleased with my stint - I felt the pace in the car was fantastic and I was almost matching the leaders with my lap times. We had a problem in our pitstop that meant we dropped back a couple of places but Josh did a good job and kept at it to bring the car home for our first points!”
Race two of the weekend saw a switch of roles for Patrick and his team-mate as Josh took the start of the race. Getting a clean getaway at the rolling start, the #95 remained in its 12th place position after lap one before the safety car was brought out. After this, Josh was in a battle with the #42 BMW M4, which left Josh running onto the grass at turn two, demoting Josh down the order.
When the pit window opened, some cars dived straight into the pits but the #95 remained out on track until the second safety car of the race was brought out and the team utilised the period to bring the car in for its mandatory stop.
Jumping a number of cars through the pit window, Patrick was now behind the wheel and looking to reel in the cars ahead during his stint. The safety car stayed out for a further three laps and when it finally pulled in, a difficult restart resulted in Patrick making contact with the car in front.
With the damage too bad to continue and lap times being affected, Patrick came into the pits for repairs and was soon back on the road. However, two laps later Patrick was forced to visit the pit lane again as he served a drive-through penalty for his team-mate speeding in the pit lane.
Patrick eventually crossed the finishing line, two laps down, to end a disappointing second race but still managed to take positives away.
“I think we were really unlucky in the afternoon race," Patrick said. "Josh was put on the grass early on and that ended our chances of a good result. I made a small error at the restart as I didn’t expect the car in front to slow so much, but I’ll learn from it and be a better driver because of it. I made contact then we had to pit because of the damage and then we also had a drive-through to serve so that was the nail in the coffin!
“Overall, I’m really pleased with my opening weekend in British GT. The team were brilliant all weekend and gave me and Josh a strong car to work with. We’ve collected good points at the first round of the year and it’s a fantastic foundation to build on for the rest of the season.”
Eighth in the Championship Standings with 10 points to his name, Patrick will head to Snetterton in under a month’s time to compete in the second race weekend of the year (18-19 May).