PREVIEW: AVON TYRES BRITISH GT CHAMPIONSHIP
Reigning champion team Preci-Spark will be among the squads taking part in a two-day 'Balance of Performance' test at Silverstone later this month, ahead of the opening rounds of the 2010 Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
The Preci-Spark Ascari KZR1, which in the hands of brothers David and Godfrey Jones last year claimed three race victories and clinched the championship by a single point, will join Audi R8, Ferrari Scuderia and Mosler cars at Silverstone to be driven by the official FIA GT3 tester, Kurt Mollekens.
Championship manager Benjamin Franassovici explains: "We have organised a national Balance of Performance test to ensure that we gather enough data from cars taking part this year and to evaluate the Mosler. It is important to have this test with Kurt at the start the season; GT3 is getting stronger again in Britain and a test is necessary to guarantee a healthy foundation."
British GT – the opening rounds of which are to take place on Easter Monday (5 Apr) at Oulton Park – is on target for a 20-car grid in Cheshire, with a host of exciting GT3 machinery at the sharp end. Runners already declared include a triple-Ferrari squad from Chad Racing and two Audi R8s from the new United Autosports team.
Porsche is to return to the championship for 2010, after a season's absence, in the shape of a Trackspeed-prepared 997 GT3 R model for team patron David Ashburn and a yet-to-be-named co-driver. The Trackspeed machine is entered for Oulton and the team hopes to complete the British GT season alongside its FIA GT3 commitments.
Another top driver pairing to return is Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox, who last year drove a Ferrari 430 to seventh place in British GT. They will be running under a new team name, Predator CCTV Racing, and, says Wilcox, will be a force with which to be reckoned:
"We were the highest point scorers in the last four races of 2009 and with the new upgraded Scuderia we are looking to carry on where we left off. All the misfortune of the past couple of seasons is behind us and we now have a solid team that works well together and a fantastically prepared car, so I think 2010 is going to be our year… bring on Oulton Park."
The man beaten to the title by that slender margin last year, Hector Lester, is set to return to British GT alongside rapid Dane Allan Simonsen, who holds the British GT lap record at four of the eight tracks to be visited this season. They will again race the Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 with which their claimed the GT3 race honours on three occasions in 2009.
One of Chad's three cars will be driven by 18-year-old British GT race-winner Daniel Brown and his experienced co-driver Chris Hyman, and another by Argentine duo José Manuel Balbiani and Juan Garriz. The identities of the drivers of Chad's third Ferrari are due to be revealed later this week.
Another winning car from last season is the Viper of Craig Wilkins and Aaron Scott; the Midlands-based duo were title contenders down to the wire in 2009 and have championship success very much in their sights this season. The Kingsbury Jig and Tool-backed Viper has been rebuilt at the Sutton Coldfield base of GT3 Racing, a new team set up by Wilkins.
Others expected at Oulton Park include the MTECH Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin, a Mosler from Rollcentre Racing and an Aston Martin DBRS9 run by Barwell Motorsport for Paul Whight and Michael Bentwood. Whight and Barwell both won titles in British GT in 2006 – Whight's Cadena Motorsport squad was GT3 champion team while Barwell man Leo Machitski was GT3 champion driver. Their joint-effort Aston will be entered under the banner Barwell-Cadena.
"With more marques set to join as the season progresses, it is shaping up to be a memorable year for British GT," adds Franassovici.
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