2018 SEASON REVIEW: BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP – GT4


CATEGORIES:

British GT produced yet another record-breaking campaign in 2018 during a season that will also be remembered for several history-making exploits. Most of them featured eventual GT3 champions Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam (Optimum Motorsport, Aston Martin), while Jack Mitchell and Century Motorsport made it a Drivers’ and Teams’ title double for BMW in GT4.

GT4: MITCHELL AT THE LAST

Jack Mitchell was a late addition to GT4’s entry in 2018 but made the most of his opportunity by handing BMW’s new M4 three titles in its debut British GT campaign.

Mitchell had shown plenty of potential during his GT3 tenure the previous year but was forced to make a late switch back to GT4 just in time for the new season. What’s more, he’d only completed a handful of pre-season laps with Century prior to Oulton Park’s opening round, while three co-drivers over the course of the year further stacked the odds in favour of others.

Nevertheless, a strong start at Oulton resulted in two podiums with stand-in co-driver Ricky Collard before Aleksander Schjerpen and Dean Macdonald both made appearances during the year. That same rain-lashed Easter Monday saw Adam Balon and Ben Barnicoat win aboard Track-Club’s McLaren before Team Parker’s Nick Jones and Scott Malvern gave Mercedes-AMG its first-ever British GT4 class victory.

It wouldn’t be British GT4 without a Ginetta winning, and the Yorkshire firm’s G55 claimed its only victory of the year next time out in the hands of Patrik Matthiesen and Callum Pointon. Both would remain championship protagonists right up until the final round.

Tolman Motorsport fielded three McLarens in 2018 but claimed its only win courtesy of Pro/Am pairing David Pattison and Joe Osborne who made the most of a timely Safety Car period to beat the Silver Cup crews in Snetterton’s first 60-minute race. Meanwhile, Bens Tuck and Green announced themselves as serious title contenders by winning Race 2 aboard Century’s other BMW despite being spun down the order early on.

Five races, five different winners. And that pattern continued at Silverstone where Mitchell leapt back into contention following a run of three races that yielded just four points. Only suspension failure denied Equipe Verschuur’s Finlay Hutchison and Dan Mckay from claiming a dominant win, although that hardly concerned their Century rival and Schjerpen who went on to win British GT’s three-hour showpiece.

The resulting 20-second pitstop success penalty should have prevented a repeat at Spa-Francorchamps in July. However, Mitchell and new co-driver Macdonald made the most of a fortuitous Safety Car period to find themselves out front when it mattered most. Nevertheless, it still required a combative stint from Mitchell who held off Charlie Fagg’s charging Tolman McLaren en route to a rare back-to-back victory.

Only Tuck’s scintillating drive at Brands Hatch prevented Pro/Am crews from sweeping the season’s penultimate podium on a day when a lengthy Safety Car period helped Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson win for Balfe Motorsport. However, that result also left Century’s BMWs separated by 10 points ahead of a season finale featuring no less than five potential champions.

Indeed, while Mitchell/Macdonald and Tuck/Green wrapped up the Teams’ title for Century with relative ease, the Drivers’ crown would swap suitors several times over the course of the afternoon as various permutations came and went. Mitchell ultimately prevailed, but only after recovering from a penalty that initially looked like hobbling the champion elect at the final hurdle.

Just two points therefore separated a top-three that also featured Fagg and Michael O’Brien’s McLaren, while Pointon/Matthiesen and Academy’s outsiders Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones completed the first five.

Pro/Am also went down to the wire between Jones/Malvern and UltraTech’s Kelvin Fletcher/Martin Plowman following a season-long scrap that featured overall podiums for both crews. However, it was the Mercedes-AMG that eventually prevailed after an early issue at Donington side-lined the Nissan.

Elsewhere, Century and BMW also helped Mitchell win the Silver Cup title ahead of Fagg/O’Brien.