BRITISH GT BATTLE RESUMES AT BRANDS
Five races, five different winners. The 2012 Avon Tyres British Championship is proving more spectacular and enthralling with each round; this weekend’s two-hour race on the legendary Brands Hatch GP circuit in Kent promises more excitement as a field of twenty-five of the finest GT3 and GT4 cars do battle.
Following races at Oulton Park, Nürburgring and Rockingham, MTECH’s Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin lead the field by 9.5 points and have an enviable reliability record this season. The Ferrari duo have kept their 458 Italia GT3 out of trouble and not finished lower than fourth place all year.
Behind the British duo is the Serbian driver, David Ashburn. The Trackspeed driver again finished on the podium last time at Rockingham, despite being without the services of regular charger, Richard Westbrook. Stand-in, Phil Keen did a more than admirable job, but is booked elsewhere this weekend and Ashburn will turn to professional GT racer, Nicolas Armindo. The Frenchman is fresh from a second place class finish at last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and is no stranger to the Porsche 997 GT3 R.
Returning from Le Mans this weekend are a number of regular 2012 season drivers including championship leader, Matt Griffin. Griffin’s Ferrari 458 retired after his team-mate’s involvement in the incident with Toyota’s Anthony Davidson. British duo Jody Firth and Warren Hughes’ Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03 Nissan led the LMP2 category, but retired in the latter stages of the race with suspension damage. Danish star, Allan Simonsen’s Le Mans lasted only a few hours before the Aston Martin he shared was involved in an accident and stopped due to damage sustained. Richard Westbrook was the only 2012 British GT driver to complete the full 24 hours in his Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, finishing sixth in the GTE Pro class.
Brands Hatch is the home race for a number of drivers and teams, not least Porsche stalwarts, Motorbase. Rockingham looked set to give the Wrotham based team another solid haul of points, but technical gremlins and errors prevented drivers Daniele Perfetti and Michael Caine advancing on Ashburn in the points table. Stephen Jelley will again partner Steve Parish in the sister car this weekend, and Jelley, who took pole last time out at the Corby circuit, will want to get a result in Sunday’s race as well as in Saturday’s qualifying session this time around.
United Autosport’s Matt Bell and Charles Bateman will be looking to kick-start the second half of their 2012 campaign following the investment of a 2012 Audi R8 LMS Ultra, which will give the promising youngsters increased aerodynamics and a more efficient cooling system, and further shows the commitment of the Anglo-American team to the championship.
Re-joining British GT at Brands Hatch is the popular driver, Luke Hines. After a promising 2012 debut at the Nürburgring double-header weekend in May, Hines will again line-up alongside George Murrells in the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55. The Wakefield team have been making positive progress with the new Ginetta GT3 machine, and will benefit from the experience of Hines on a circuit he knows well.
New for 2012 is the appearance of a Barwell Motorsport prepared Ginetta G50 in the GT4 class. The G50 has proved to be the car to beat this year in the hands of Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes (Team WFR), and drivers Peter Erceg and Ben De Zille Butler will be hoping for a strong result this weekend.
Fannin and Hughes head the class, but it is Gloucestershire-based ZoeWenham (Century Motorsports) who is hot on their heels, benefiting from the retirement of the rapid Lotus Sport UK Evora of Phil Glew and upcoming Indian driver, Sailesh Bolisetti. Glew and Bolisetti will be the sole Lotus Sport UK entry this weekend and will be confident of a good result after outpacing the Team WFR Ginetta before technical issues prevented them taking a second class win in the 2012 season.
Qualifying begins at 17:35 on Saturday, and Sunday’s 120-minute feature race gets underway at 14:10. Live text commentary of all sessions will be available on Twitter throughout the weekend via the official championship Twitter feed, http://www.twitter.com/BritishGT