Oulton Park set for British GT Esports Championship season opener


Season 7 of the revamped British GT Esports Championship kicks off with a single 60-minute race this Sunday evening (March 21) at Oulton Park where real-world teams and drivers join their sim racing counterparts on the 40-strong multi-class entry.

Familiar names packing a combined total of 11 real-world British GT titles and 58 wins, as well as a Formula 1 World Championship crown, will line up on the GT3 grid ahead of the 20 sim qualifiers who earned their GT4 place via this week’s hot lap competition.

The action takes place on Assetto Corsa Competizione and is overseen by SRO Esports’ technical partner, AK Informatica. Points are awarded for the top-10 positions in each class and on the same basis as the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s 60-minute races, while GT4’s top-10 finishers also earn an automatic entry into Round 2 at Snetterton next Sunday. A mandatory pitstop must be served between minutes 25 and 35 when new tyres and fuel can be added if the driver so wishes.

Leading print publication, Motorsport News, will underline the real-world industry’s increasing support for sim racing by including weekly British GT Esports race reports and sponsoring the GT3 Drivers’ Championship trophy. The GT4 champion will win a Fanatec prize bundle worth approximately €2,000 and a VIP Intelligent Money British GT Championship experience, while both class title winners also receive automatic entry into the GT World Challenge Europe Esports Championship.

Watch live coverage hosted by David Addison and Paul Jeffrey on SRO’s Youtube and Twitch channels, as well as British GT’s Facebook page, from 20:00 GMT this Sunday.

GT3: EIGHT MANUFACTURERS AND 14 REAL-WORLD TEAMS ACROSS 20 ENTRIES

The front of GT3’s grid is intended to mirror a real-life British GT race. And that will certainly be the case at Oulton Park where most of the 14 teams are either current or former entrants.

One driver blurring the lines between virtual and reality is James Baldwin, the World’s Fastest Gamer who became a British GT3 race winner at Oulton last year. The 23-year-old again competes for Team Rocket RJN, which is also represented by Baldwin’s real-world co-driver and fellow title contender Michael O’Brien, and Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button.

There’s also a familiar look at Barwell Motorsport where their reigning GT3 champion Sandy Mitchell is joined by Jack Lemmer – the son of team owner, Mark. Lemmer Jnr is nominated to substitute for Leo Machitski who’s scheduled to race the Lamborghini from Round 2 onwards.

British GT’s most decorated driver, four-time champion Jonny Adam, lines up for his real-world outfit, Beechdean AMR, along with 2021 co-driver, team owner and double GT3 title winner Andrew Howard. TF Sport and 2019 GT4 champion Tom Canning, Garage 59’s Andrew Watson, and Team BRIT’s Bobby Trundley also field Aston Martins.

Three Century Motorsport-entered BMWs continue the real-world theme. Ben Green was a GT4 championship runner-up with the team in 2018 before graduating to its GT3 programme, while Angus Fender has also raced Century’s M4 and M6. 2021 signing Gus Burton completes the line-up.

Team ABBA Racing (Sam Neary) and Ciceley Motorsport (Adam Morgan) spearhead Mercedes-AMG’s challenge, just as they will for real in 2021, and there’s further variety in the shape of Team Parker’s Porsche crewed by its Carrera Cup GB driver and 2013 British GT4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe.

Academy Motorsport, which oversees Ford’s domestic GT4 programme, and 2020 class winner Matt Cowley have opted to enter a Bentley, while 2012 GT4 champion Jody Fannin represents his European Le Mans Series squad, JMW, and Ferrari.

Two more cars complete the GT3 entry: Fox Motorsport’s McLaren driven by 2010 GT4 champion Jamie Stanley, and a McLaren cunningly disguised as Rollcentre Racing’s 2009 Mosler, which also features a familiar surname above the door: Martin Short’s son, Morgan, pilots the 720S.

GT4: SIM RACING PROS DOMINATE STACKED ENTRY

Four days of public hot lap qualifying have resulted in some of the world’s best-known sim racing stars contesting the GT4 class at Oulton, as well as a real-world British GT4 champion.

Will Tregurtha won the crown in 2018 but is also a pro-level gamer who jointly topped the Chevrolet Camaro leaderboard with Chris McDade.

However, Porsche and KTM look like the cars to beat based on a hot lap competition in which only the Cayman and X-Bow dipped below 100s. Luca Berk (Porsche), a recent Simsport GT4 champion, was fastest of all on a 1m39.834s and just 0.063s quicker than Manuel Rodriguez (KTM). Egor Ogorodnikov and Jack McIntyre also progressed.

G2 Esports locked out both BMW entries courtesy of works drivers and SRO Esports regulars Arthur Kammerer and Nils Naujoks, while Maciej Malinowski and GT World Challenge America Esports champion Michael Kundakcioglu advanced from the Alpine section.

Aston Martin’s leaderboard proved particularly competitive with less than a tenth covering first to fourth. Andrea Capoccia and Charlie Crossland both ultimately progressed.

No manufacturer has won more British GT4 races than Ginetta, and two of its G55s are on Oulton’s entry list courtesy of Eamonn Murphy and Maxime Batifoulier. Another British manufacturer, McLaren, is also represented by Florian Hasse and Moritz Löhner.

The remaining two manufacturers were also near the sharp end in hot lap qualifying. Very little separated Audi’s fastest drivers, Samir Ibraimi and Chris Hoeke, while Alexandre Herbigneaux and Ivan Shermetinskii line up for Mercedes-AMG.