British GT is back for another season. The opening round was held at Oulton Park over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with the 4th April qualifying day and race day held on Bank Holiday Monday 6th of April.
As with any new season that starts, there were many changes in teams, drivers and liveries on the cars. This years grid sees 13 Aston Martins,8 Ginettas, 3 Lotuses, 3 BMWs, 2 McLarens, 2 Ferraris, 2 Mercedes, 1 Porsche and 1 Toyota across both GT3 and GT4 classes. With a bumper line up of 35 cars across the nine manufacturers for the upcoming season it looks to be an action packed one.
Marco Attard and Alexander Sims are back in the No 1 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 to defend the Championship Title. The racing weekend comprised of two one hour races. The winning duo in British GT4 last year was Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings in their Beechdean Aston Martin. However, this year Ross Wylie has upgraded to the GT3 class in the VonRyan racing McLaren 650S alongside Andrew Watson and Jake Giddings is racing alongside Kieran Griffin in the No 47 JWB Motorsport Aston Martin.
Within the first lap of the first race, the safety car had to come out onto track when two cars came off track, the No 12 McLaren and No 61 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin. Once the safety car left the field, the No 6 Aston Martin had soon pulled a gap of over one second. Considering Aston Martins dominated the 34 car entry list for this race, the top three with fifteen minutes takes were No 6 Aston Martin driven by Liam Griffin, No FF Corse Ferrari driven by Gary Eastwood in second and No 10 McLaren driven by Andrew Watson in third.
Andrew Watson who was in third went into the barriers allowing Andrew Howard in the 007 Beechdean Aston Martin to take third place. The top ten cars were being split by under five seconds. After Watson’s drive into the tyre barrier this ended the race for the Von Ryan McLaren.
At half race distance, the field at the front had bunched up whilst fighting upcoming traffic and Andrew Howard in the 007 Aston spun out on track after trying to get through the traffic ahead of him. As the pit lane window opened, the safety car headed out on track which threw complications into the mix. There was also damage to the No 2 Aston Martin in addition to the No 007 Aston who was unable to complete the race.
After the pit stop, the lead was then handed over to No 18 FF Corse Ferrari, ahead of No 6 Aston Martin then driven by Rory Butcher, third went to 888 BMW and fourth to the No 4 Aston Martin driven by Matt Jackson who last year competed in the BTCC. The top five was finished off by No 22 Perci-Spark Mercedes AMG. The GT4 at this point was being led by No 43 Ginetta G55.
An impressive stint in the 888 BMW by Osbourne saw him attack for first place coming from third place at the half way mark and with only ten minutes left he was up into second with a decreasing gap of under two seconds. The leader of the GT4 Class was handed a stop Go penalty for a short pit stop which resulted in Robinson in the No 50 Ginetta taking the class lead.
Second and third places swapped again between No 6 Aston and No 888 BMW as they fought for second place and tried to make their way through back markers. By the end of the race, the No 18 Ferrari 458 Italia took the GT3 race win with a one second lead. Second place was taken by Oman Racing No 6 Aston Martin driven By Butcher. No 888 BMW took the place podium place in third position. The top ten was rounded off by No 4 Aston martin in fourth, No 21 Ferrari in fifth, reigning Championship GT3 winner No 1 BMW in sixth, No 32 Ginetta in seventh, No 27 Aston Martin in eighth, No 44 Ginetta in ninth and No 2 Aston Martin.
The GT4 Class win went to No 50 Ginetta G55 driven by Robinson, second went to No 407 Beechdean Aston Martin driven by Gunn and third No 71 Aston Martin driven by Hart.
However, the results changed after the race had ended. It was later judged that the Ferrari had blocked the Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Butcher when exiting the pits following their mandatory stop. This resulted in The No 18 Ferrari moving into second and No 6 Aston Martin becoming the overall winner.
Not all thirty four cars started the second race of the day with No 12 and 17 not being able to start. The pole position for the race was taken by 007 Beechdean Aston Martin who lead from the start. There was a mirror image of race one within minutes of the race starting the safety car was called out onto track after No 44 Ginetta had spun off.
The lead was held by 007 for the first twenty minutes of the race until No 18 Ferrari overtook the Beechdean Aston Martin to take the lead. The Ferrari had gradually closed the gap, third place was held by No 63 BMW Z4 who didn’t finish the first race of the season. However, their racing season soon came to an end as No 22 Mercedes shoved it into the barriers.
At the half way stage in the race, the lead was still with No 18 Ferrari who had pulled a 2.5 second lead ahead of No 007 Beechdean Aston Martin driven by Adam, third place was held by Simpson in the No 32 Ginetta GT3.
The GT4 Class was being led by No 77 Lotus Evora GT4 driven by Kershaw, followed by No 46 Twisted Team Parker Ginetta and third was No 48 Fox Motorsport Ginetta G55.
Once the pit lane opened for the mandatory pit stops and driver changes, the leader and front runners of the race changed. The No 888 BMW Z4 lead the race ahead of No 007 Aston and No 32 remained in third. The GT4 Lead also changed and No 56 Ginetta G55 leads the GT4 class.
With twenty minutes of the race remaining, the No 007 Aston Martin once again lead the race by a generous 13.4 seconds.
With ten minutes of the race remaining, the race potentially opened up to other cars further back in the field as a stop Go penalty was issued to the top three cars in the Race. No 007, No 888 and No 6. The penalties were issued for short pit stops. Once these penalties were served, the race leader remained as No 007 Aston Martin as the lead they had made gave them enough time to recover from the penalty. Second was being held by No 32 Ginetta GT3 and third was No 1 BMW Z4. Unfortunately, the No 888 BMW dropped back into 6th behind No 6 Aston Martin.
The race win went to No 007 Aston driven by Howard who took the Beechdean Aston Martin across the chequered flag with a lead of 12 seconds ahead of No 32 Ginetta G55, No 1 BMW Z4 in third, No 6 Aston Martin in fourth and No 888 BMW in fifth.
The GT4 class was won by the No 77 Lotus with the No 407 Aston Martin in second and No 50 Ginetta in third.
As with race one there was a swap in the top three, this time for the GT4 class which saw No 407 Aston Martin being penalised and losing second place giving third to No 48 Fox Motorsport Aston Martin.
Andrew Howard said “I think today sums up motor racing in a way! You have good and bad luck. There was some fantastic teamwork from the guys today; goodness only knows how they got the car back on track! Jonny had a nightmare at the pit-stop, we changed all four tyres and still got a penalty for being too fast, so an impressive performance all round, I think!”
Oz Yusuf said “Everything went really well! We might have won the first race were it not for the Safety Car so we were pleased to get it back in this one. We stuck to the plan, stuck to a steady pace and I didn’t need to push it too hard. It would have been nice to get the double-win but there’s always next time!”