Oulton Park The Avon Tyres British GT Championship arrives at Oulton Park this Easter weekend with a capacity grid of 34 cars for the round of the 2013 season.  A number of new drivers have been added to the already impressive grid in recent days, these include Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy, 2011 British GT co-champion Glynn Geddie, 2012 GT4 co-champion Jody Fannin, top historics racer Jason Minshaw, and young gun, Julien Draper.

Reigning Champion Michael Caine heads a group of drivers that wouldn’t look out of place in an International GT paddock; Allan Simonsen (Rosso Verde), Jonny Adam (Beechdean), Warren Hughes (M-Sport), James Walker (Fortec), Rob Barff (FF Corse), Matt Griffin (Mtech), Mark Blundell (United Autosports), Matteo Bobbi (Vita4One Team Italy), Nick Tandy (Trackspeed), and Richard Westbrook (Trackspeed) will all compete in the GT3 class this weekend where honours will definitely be hard fought for amongst the 29 cars in the class.

A vast array of top national talent will look to topple the International names including, Joe Osborne (888Optimum), Tom Roche (PE Group Blendini Moto), Aaron Scott (AF Corse), Mike Simpson (Team LNT), Phil Keen (Trackspeed), Tom Sharp (CWS 4 x 4 spares), Julien Draper (Mtech), Oliver Bryant (Ecurie Ecosse), Jody Fannin (JRM), Mark Cole (JRM), and Dan Brown (888Optimum) to name but a few.

With the recent confirmation that Nissan will join the gird in the shape of two cars on a race-by-race basis from JRM, ten top GT3 manufacturers will be present on the grid at round one this weekend. Strength in depth has been the story of the close season and the GT3 grid now consists of:

Six: Ferrari 458 GT3s
Four: BMW Z4 GT3s and Porsche 997 GT3 Rs
Three: Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s, McLaren MP4-12cs, Audi R8s (2 x 2012 spec ultra and 1 x 2011 spec)
Two: Mercedes AMG SLS GT3s, Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s and Ginetta G55s
After the dominant championship run of Team WFR last year in GT4, things look a lot tighter in the category for 2013. Returnees from 2012 will always be in a strong position, none more so than runner-up Zoe Wenham who is back with Century Motorsport, this time with promising teenager Declan Jones alongside her. APO Sport made a big impression in a handful of races in 2012 with Alex Osborne and James May, and their family run team are hoping to land the title this year.

Ginetta specialists Optimum Motorsport bring Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr to GT4 from the Ginetta GT5 Championship where they were team-mates last season. Both drivers have something to prove and will take the fight to Century, APO Sport and the fourth team running Ginettas in GT4, Redgate Lifetime. Dan Eagling and Matt Smith are a capable duo, it remains to be seen if any of the Ginettas will be able to take on the threat from Complete Racing’s Aston Martin, which will be driven by double VW Cup Champion Steve Chaplin and eighteen-year-old Tom Wilson.

Gentleman Trophy Sponsor
New for 2013 is the Gentleman Trophy, a championship within the British GT Championship for ‘Bronze’ graded Gentleman GT3 drivers aged 39 or over at the start of the season.

Amidst more competition at the front of the field, series organisers SRO Motorsports Group have created the category to highlight excellent performances amongst the amateur drivers in the series. Pairings of a Bronze/Bronze driver pairings will receive 150% earned in the GT3 class; Bronze drivers paired with Silver, Gold or Platinum drivers will receive the same points awarded to them for their GT3 finish. By Melissa Warren
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