THE DONINGTON DECIDER
Plenty of teams & drivers have something to fight for at this weekend's British GT finale. Photo: www.jakobebrey.com
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship heads to Donington Park this weekend for the season finale with everything up for grabs on Leicestershire’s circuit’s famous curves. All titles are yet to be decided, meaning thrilling battles in store across the GT3 and GT4 classes for teams and drivers as well as the duel to win the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy.
Donington’s 2.487 mile Grand Prix circuit has played host to the title deciders for the previous two years and once more it’s poised for an epic conclusion to end hard fought seasons throughout the field.
It’s a superb grid with over thirty entries with cars from Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Ginetta, McLaren, Lotus, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota but all eyes will be on the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 of Marco Attard and Alexander Sims to see if Attard can convert his strong points lead into the GT3 Drivers’ title into the glory and the team can take their title too.
Attard may have the pressure on him, but a combination of Ecurie Ecosse/Barwell Motorsport and Sims will make sure he is focused on the job in hand.
“There’s quite a bit of pressure,” admits Attard who heads into the event with 148.5 points in his account. “We have a small buffer and that will help me to look – if not feel – more relaxed. Alexander and the team do a great job to keep me focussed and not get stressed about anything so we’ll have to see what happens.”
Team-mate Sims sits in second in the driver standings with 129.5 points by virtue of missing the two Snetterton one-hour races, so is therefore not in with a shout for glory, however the Oman Racing Team #4 pairing of Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine are in with a shout on 120 points apiece in their Aston Martin Vantage. Caine has experience in being the underdog and looks to recent British GT history for evidence that anything can happen at the season finale.
“In 2012 we were lying fifth and won the championship there so anything can happen,” said Caine. “Donington is a good circuit, hopefully for the Aston too. It’s a two-hour race again so there’s plenty of potential for us.”
While the reigning champion Beechdean team and driver Andrew Howard can’t win a GT3 title, the sister car of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings lead the GT4 standings with 192.5 points in their #407 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge.
Following in second is another Aston Martin, with the #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell still in with a shout for the title, trailing by 29.5 points with 163 to their names.
While the points deficit leaves Jarman and Modell with it all to do, Modell is relaxed about the challenge.
“Nothing has changed for me going into Donington Park,” he said. “I’ve still got to go out there and win the race. Jake Giddings and Ross Wylie need to finish eighth or lower for us to win the title.”
Both driver standings may be a two car battle, but there are tightly contested Team Championships in both GT3 and GT4.
In GT3, after taking two podiums at Brands Hatch, the Oman Racing Team currently leads the way with 160.5 points. Behind them, both Ecurie Ecosse and Trackspeed pose threats, with 148.5 and 133.5 points respectively.
GT4 sees Beechdean on top again, with the team’s 192.5 points bettering Century Motorsport’s 179. In third, TF Sport’s 163 points could see them battle with Century for second.
Finally, the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy sees a two way battle between Marco Attard and Andrew Howard, with Attard’s 163.5 points leaving Howard with it all to do as he trails by 30 points.
While the championship battles hit the headlines, even for the season finale, there’s some added spice to the mix in the entry list with some moves and shakes through the field.
Ollie Hancock will partner Gary Eastwood in the #18 FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, whilst there’s a no points eligible return for experienced British GT drivers, Ron Johnson and Piers Johnson in the #19 FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher will team up for #5 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3, with Butcher aiming for a second successive podium.
It’s not all change though, with recent Le Mans racer Alex MacDowall continuing to race alongside Phil Dryburgh in the #6 PGF – Kinfaun AMR Aston, with the duo impressing on their debut together at Brands Hatch. The impressive return from Nick Tandy and David Ashburn in the #31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R saw a race victory last time out, and the #31 car will aim to repeat the feat at Donington.
Steve Tandy also racks up another appearance, this time racing for Team LNT alongside Mike Simpson in the #32 G55 Ginetta GT3, which like the #19 car won’t be eligible for points through entering the last event of the season.
There are also several returnees to the series, with Richard Lyons once again partnering Pasin Lathouras in the #29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia. After missing the last few rounds, Matt Bell in the #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra will be re-joined by his regular team-mate, Mark Patterson. After Jann Mardenborough partnered Sir Chris Hoy at Brands Hatch, Wolfgang Reip makes his comeback to the #80 Nissan Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3.
In GT4, APO resume their British GT campaign with Alex Osborne and James May in the #69 Porsche 911 GT4.
The Toyota G86 of James Fletcher and Stefan Hodgetts makes another appearance in the Invitational class, with the GPRM team continuing to drive the #86 car ahead of homologation and a possible 2015 campaign.
The final round of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship gets underway at Donington Park with practice and qualifying tomorrow with the two-hour race starting at 12.55 on Sunday.
For a full entry list visit DONINGTON DECIDER