BRITISH GT SMILES FOR THE CAMERAS
Lights, camera, action – British GT in 2016 is almost underway! – Photo: Jakob Ebrey
Snetterton in Norfolk garnered the motorsport world’s attention today as the British GT Championship ran its annual Media Day to help kick off the countdown to the 2016 season, with the majority of the major teams in both GT3 & GT4 in attendance.
The big news of the day broke first thing in the morning, as McLaren stunned the entire GT fraternity by unveiling a brand new contender in the 570S GT4, a car which finally gives the Woking outfit a chance to expand their GT operations past GT3. The car is set to be run by Ecurie Ecosse, who will also field a 650S GT3, however drivers are yet to be confirmed.
Further surprises were to come over at Beechdean Aston Martin, as they confirmed a second V8 Vantage GT4 for reigning class champion Jamie Chadwick and TV chef turned racing driver Paul Hollywood. Paul isn’t set to appear until later on in the season when it’s suspected he’ll have the necessary signatures on his licence to compete, but it does mark a return to the Championship for Chadwick, who raced to the title last season with Ross Gunn who has since stepped up to the GT3 class in the #1 car alongside Andrew Howard.
When it came to getting on track when the green lights came on in the pit lane, the pace was set by the likes of the AMDtuning.com BMW Z4 GT3 of Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne, just under two tenths up on #32 Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 of Ian Stinton and Mike Simpson, with Mike returning to competition after an injury. The fearsome Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3, set to be piloted this season by Liam Griffin, Fabio Babini and Alexander Sims, was 3rd quickest from the reigning champions Beechdean AMR in car #1 and the second Tolman Ginetta. GT4 was topped by the PMW Expo/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.
Come the afternoon session, it was the turn of Beechdean to turn up the wick as the #1 of Andrew Howard and newly promoted Ross Gunn taking top time. They finished P1 ahead of the AMDtuning.com BMW and the PFL Motorsport Aston Martin of Jody Fannin and Peter Littler. Barwell’s Lamborghini was 4th ahead of the Tolman Ginetta. GT4 had Ginettas in the top two with Optimum again fastest this time from Team HARD's #45 G55 entered under RCIB Insurance Racing. The #407 Beechdean V8 Vantage ended up in 3rd place, piloted all day by Jack Bartholemew and Jordan Albert along with Chadwick and Hollywood.
Other teams finding their feet with new cars included Team Parker Racing, who inserted themselves into the fray with their Bentley Continental GT3 for Rick Parfitt Jr and Seb Morris. Ecurie Ecosse got on track with their McLaren for some much needed mileage, while over in GT4 Abbie Eaton turned her and Ebor GT’s first few laps in the striking Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4. Unfortunately, none of the Porsche teams were able to make today’s events, although GPRM did with one of their two Toyota GT86s.
A press conference early in the afternoon allowed for the likes of SRO’s Stephane Ratel and MSV’s Dr Jonathan Palmer to wax lyrical about their hopes and expectations for the year ahead, as well as teams and drivers to discuss their chances for the championship and how they’re settling in with their new cars in front of a packed press attendance. One fact pointed out by a number of attendees was the sheer number of GT4 cars registered for the new season, with the field reaching a bigger number than that of the GT3 contingent! The official entry list was revealed early in the day, detailing 15 GT3s and 18 GT4s registered for the year.
The new British GT Championship season kicks off in a few weeks at Brands Hatch on the GP circuit on April 16/17, where battle lines will be drawn and the charge for the Championship begins all over again. Make sure you don’t miss out on all the action on what’s set to be one sensational year for British GT!