Horsham’s Alex Reed reached the podium in only his second Pirelli British GT Championship outing at Rockingham Motor Speedway at the weekend.
The 18-year old entered the 2016 British GT season having conducted only one day of winter testing, and last month’s curtain-raiser at Brands Hatch proved to be an uphill battle as he and teammate Joey Foster bedded in to the championship and their Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4.
Running was curtailed and Reed’s pace restricted when an anti-roll bar disconnected in free practice, but they reduced their deficit as the weekend progressed.
A productive day of testing at Anglesey followed and a host of set-up tweaks inspired confidence and helped Reed feel more comfortable with his Ginetta, which was boosted further by additional setup changes in free practice at Rockingham on Saturday (April 30).
Reed notched up a handful of installation laps in first practice before completing 20 minutes behind the wheel while searching for the ultimate race configuration in free practice two.
The quest yielded what Reed described as “the perfect race setup”, although the Lanan Racing team would be on the back foot on Sunday following a troubled qualifying session; Reed’s best time was disallowed due to an alleged track limits infringement and a collision with the barrier for Foster caused severe damage to the #51 entry.
Starting from second to last and 12th in GT4, Foster started an exercise in damage limitation, climbing as high as seventh until a sheered front anti-roll bar resulted in a significant loss of pace.
The issue, which remained undiagnosed until after the two-hour contest, caused Foster to fall to ninth before the compulsory driver-change.
However, Reed was in the zone and found an extra gear when his Lanan Racing team informed him that a rival McLaren was some 16 seconds back and bearing down on him with 20 minutes left to run.
The pressure was lifted when his opponent was penalised. Reed had a clear run to a fourth place finish, although he and teammate Foster would be promoted to third in the final classification when the race winner was excluded for overtaking under yellow flag conditions.
“I’m elated and really excited about taking the finish in fourth and to then be bumped up to third,” said Reed.
“It’s so unexpected! Joey (Foster) did really well to climb from 12th to seventh. None of us were aware of the anti-roll bar issue until after the race, so I was very confused as to why I was unable to push harder during my stint.
“My team gave me a lot of encouragement and radioed in to tell me to push, push, push with a McLaren 16 seconds adrift with 20 minutes remaining. Luckily, that car received a drive-through, but I was so zoned-in that I wasn’t even thinking about where we were. As far as I knew, we were at the tail end of the field. I never thought we were fourth!”
Reed added: “It’s stupidly lucky that we finished on the podium, but it’s amazing and you have to take these results whenever they’re presented to you. We were in the right place. It’s even better that it came in only my second weekend in the British GT Championship, especially as I was thrown in at the deep end. Personally, I’m targeting podiums from now on. Joey and I are very fast and I think we can reach the winners’ rostrum again in the next round at Oulton Park if all goes to plan.”