British GT 2016 Season preview

AMDs BMW takes on the Team Parker Bentley (Photo by Marc Waller)

AMDs BMW takes on the Team Parker Bentley (Photo by Marc Waller)This year’s British GT championship will have another large grid after 33 cars have been confirmed as entries for the season with another GT4 car joining the grid later in the season.

There are a total of 11 different manufacturers in the championship as a whole. Seven different in GT3 and six different in GT4.

GT3 loses the Ferraris and Mercedes of last season but gains Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini. GT4 gains Mclaren and Maserati to join Porsche, Ginetta, Aston Martin, and Toyota.

The championship launch day saw big news with the world debut of the Mclaren 570S GT4. It’s the first ever GT4 class car from McLaren and it will race for it’s debut season exclusively in the British GT championship. Mclaren have selected Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse as their partner to help run the new Mclaren. With the team already running a GT3 Mclaren, it made perfect sense for the Mclaren factory to link up with them.

2015 champions Beachdean return to defend their title. Team Boss and champion, Andrew Howard is joined by one of the GT4 champions, Ross Gunn. Gunn’s 2015 Beachdean team mate and co-champion Jamie Chadwick remains in a GT4 car but gets a famous new team mate in Bake Off star Paul Hollywood. Sadly his tv commitments mean the duo will miss the early part of the season and so Chadwick will not have the chance to defend her title. Another Beachdean Aston Martin GT4 will compete the whole season with newcomers Jordan Albert and Jack Bartholomew at the wheel.

Abbie Eatons incredible new Maserati (Photo by Marc Waller)Anna Walewska joins Nathan Freke at Century (Photo by Marc Waller)Abbie Eaton (Photo by Marc Waller)The incredible new Mclaren GT4 (Photo by Marc Waller)Anna Walewska returns to the championship for a second season, still with support from Bolton University but they have now paired with the experienced Century Motorsport. They will still run a Ginetta G55 GT4 but Nathan Freke, the Century team boss, becomes Walewska’s co-driver.

Abbie Eaton, a class winner in GT Cup last year and the 2014 Mazda Supercup champion, fulfils a long held dream to join the British GT championship as she joins the Gt4 field in an Ebor GT run Maserati Gran Turismo. The experienced Marcus Hoggarth is her team mate. We hope to bring you an interview with Abbie soon.

Former champions and front runners Barwell, swap their BMW Z4 Gt3s for Lamborghini Huracan Gt3s. Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen return in a Demon Tweeks liveried car but the second is to be driven by former BTCC driver Liam Griffin alongside Alexander Sims and GT ace Fabio Babini who will share the co-drive.

There are plenty of BTCC teams also entering, Motorbase are down to one car in the championship this year with Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie sharing an Aston GT3. AMD Tuning have taken over the former Triple Eight engineering BMW Z4’s. Lee Mowle and Joe Osbourne have followed their car across but the drivers of the second car are still to be confirmed. Team Hard are entering two Ginetta G55 Gt4 cars for two pairings under the RCIB Insurance racing name. Jordan Stilp and William Philips share one car with former rally drive Robert Barable driving the second alongside Wilson Thompson.

Team Parker racing, who are behind Dextra Racing in the BTCC have entered a Bentley Continental for Rick Parfitt Jr (Yes he’s the son of the Status Quo legend!) and Seb Morris. The works Ginetta effort has moved to pair up with Tolman Motorsport who mve up from GT4 to compete with two G55 GT3’s. Works driver Mike Simpson joins Ian Stinton in one car with David Pattison and Luke Davenport in the other car.

Jamie chadwick has the task of teaching bake off star Paul Hollywood how to win (Photo by Marc Waller)Ginetta link up with Tolman (Photo by Marc Waller)Benjamin Franassovici (Photo by Marc Waller)JWBird Motorsport is another notable entry for GT4 returning for a second season with an Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 for its 2015 pairing Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings, while GPRM have increased their entry to two of their self-developed Toyota GT86 GT4s. There are also two Porsche Cayman Gt4’s entered. One for Lanan Racing with Joey Foster and Alex Reed. The other for Simpson Motorsport with Nick Jones and Scott Malvern driving.

Championship bosses are expecting 50-plus grids for the Silverstone and Spa rounds thanks to extra confirmed entries in both classes and the addition of the GT4 European Series, whose cars will compete in the same race but not count towards British GT’s classification.

Elsewhere, this year’s GT4 Silver Cup (for GT4 cars with two professional class drivers) looks set to be closely fought thanks to seven all-Pro entries, reinforcing the idea that British GT offers a perfect opportunity for young ambitious drivers to make an impression in GT racing.

British GT Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici spoke about the new season;

“Once again British GT has attracted a fantastic entry featuring a number of new manufacturers, models and teams. I also think it speaks volumes for the championship that the likes of McLaren has chosen British GT as the competitive platform from which to develop what is clearly a very important addition to its customer racing programme. The 570S GT4 looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see how it compares against our incredibly healthy and competitive GT4 grid.

“The addition of the European GT4 Series at Silverstone and Spa will obviously make for an even more impressive spectacle, but we are also expecting to see a number of other entries and manufacturers throughout the season. 33 cars is a great start but it’s by no means the maximum we will see in 2016.”

The opening round of this season’s British GT Championship takes place at Brands Hatch on April 16/17. Advance tickets are available from MSV or you can buy tickets on the gate. Tv coverage will once again be provided by Motors TV with highlights also viewable on Channel 4.

It looks set to be another incredible season for the country’s premier GT championship.  By Marc Waller

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