STUNNING FIELD GATHERS FOR BRITISH GT


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An impressive array of GTs will gather at Oulton for the season opener. Photo: Jakob Ebrey.

A huge field of supercars – many of them new to the championship this season – and an impressive roster of driver talent is amassing for a dramatic start to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship on Easter Monday (25 April) at Oulton Park.

The two one-hour Oulton races are expected to witness the British racing debut of the fabulous Ferrari 458 and the maiden British GT outings of the Mercedes AMG SLS, Corvette Z06R and Lotus Evora GT4, and with a smattering of Porsches, Audis, an Aston Martin, some Ginettas, KTMs and a Chevron on offer as well, the Cheshire circuit is set to be a Bank Holiday haven for petrolheads.

Championship manager Benjamin Franassovici has been busy over the winter months to ensure a large grid, which is likely to see at least 25 cars: “I am delighted by the prospects for Oulton Park and the season ahead: “We’ve made a commitment to evolving the British GT platform for several years now, and this year we’re really starting to see the fruit of our labour. We want British GT to be the most vibrant national GT championship, offering spectators an exciting and thrilling GT series on their doorstep.

“I’m very excited that the championship is attracting so many high quality teams and top level drivers; winter negotiations have materialized and the results are very encouraging. We’re also in discussions with a number of other teams who should be joining us later in the season – which might raise a few eyebrows. Right now, I am really looking forward to the first meeting, but the longer races which follow at Snetterton and Brands Hatch will offer a new, exciting challenge for spectators and drivers alike.”

Heading the entry for Oulton is the 2010 champion, David Ashburn, who returns with his Trackspeed Porsche GT3 and a new co-driver, Porsche racing legend Richard Westbrook. London-based Ashburn says he’ll be lucky to win the title a second time: “The Mercedes will be quick, the Audi will be quick… there are lots of cars. Last year there weren’t so many and it was probably easier. I have an upgrade on my car, which is Richard Westbrook, who will be with me for three or four races. I’ll have to put in someone else who is quick for the races which he can’t do. We’ll be strong again this season but, as for winning the title, I don’t think so…”

Historics racer Gregor Fisken, a race winner in British GT in 2009, will drive the other Trackspeed Porsche, in which he will be joined by former Formula BMW, Formula Palmer Audi and Porsche Carrera Cup Champion Tim Bridgman.

Ashburn’s co-driver from 2010, Glynn Geddie, has opted to make it a family affair: he will share a CRS Racing Ferrari with his dad, Jim. They had hoped to start the season with one of the new 458s, but will instead be at Oulton Park in a 430 Scuderia. The 2007 British GT Champion, Alex Mortimer, will share the second CRS Scud with Andrew Tate.

It’s hoped that there will be at least two 458s at Oulton, one in the hands of MTECH men Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin, who placed third in the championship last year behind Ashburn and Geddie and who won both Oulton rounds, and the other fielded by new team Scuderia Vittoria for ex-Caterham and Carrera Cup driver Charles Bateman and his team-mate Michael Lyons.

The other new cars expected are the Mercedes AMG SLS, which will make its British GT debut with 2009 champions David and Godfrey Jones, and the fabulous Corvette Z06R of Cheshire team Speedworks and their teaming, Piers Johnson and Ron Johnson.

The Oulton Park GT3 lap record holder, Alan Simonsen, returns with the Rosso Verde Ferrari 430 Scuderia in which he and Hector Lester won at Donington at the end of 2010. There will be Scuds also for Chad Racing’s Iain Dockerill and his team-mate, ex-BTCC man Steven Kane; and for Cheshire racer Phil Burton and his experienced co-driver Adam Wilcox. An older-spec Ferrari 430 will be run by MTECH for Aaron Scott and John Dhillon in the new-for-2011 GT3 ‘B’ class.

The Aston Martin flag will be waved by Andrew Howard and his Beechdean Motorsport team, who have enlisted another former BTCC racer, Jonathan Adam, to their cause. Anglo-American team United Autosports will race two its race-proven and highly competitive Audi R8 LMS cars, with promising young talent Matt Bell partnering American Mike Guasch in one and a name well remembered from British Touring Cars of the 1990s, John Bintcliffe, in another; he is partnered by Jay Palmer.

Ginetta’s new sports car, the G55, may also appear; four examples are expected to join the championship at some point this season, subject to approval of their national homologation paperwork.

There is a more than healthy look to the GT4 class also, with a two-car team from new squad Lotus Sport UK taking the fight to the Ginettas and KTMs. The Lotus Evoras will be raced by ex-Caterham and Carrera Cup frontrunner Ollie Jackson, partnered by Jack Drinkall, and by ex-BTCC man Leyton Clarke, who is paired by SEAT Supercopa star Freddy Nordstrom.

Another former Caterham man, Dan Denis, will partner David McDonald in a Scuderia Vittoria-run Ginetta G50, and there will be further Ginetta excitement provided by Century Motorsport pairing Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury.

Cheshire-based ABG Motorsport will have a brace of its futuristic KTM X-BOWs at Oulton, one for Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton, and another for Greek gentleman racer Athanasios Ladas, who is partnered by GT4 European Cup race winner Michael Mallock. The last time Ladas and Mallock were paired in British GT was at Rockingham last year, where they won their class in both races.

The GT Cup class is excepted to grow during the season, for now there is a sole entry – and appropriately enough for Oulton it is from the county’s own sports car manufacturer, Chevron. Anthony Reid helped drive the GR8 to a top-seven overall finish at Donington last season, and the racing veteran returns with Cheshire-based youngster Jordan Witt to see if the Chevron can’t go bothering the top-class cars yet again.

The British GT Championship is sponsored by UK tyre manufacturer Avon Tyres and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.

For more information about the Championship visit British GT