The 25th season of the championship was launched at Snetterton this week. Among those returning to the series are TF Sport, Barwell Motorsport, Team Parker Racing and AMD Tuning.com.
The maximum capacity grid sees six manufacturers in GT3 including a single contesting Ferrari 488 alongside the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage, Lamborghini Huracan and Bentley Continental. Meanwhile AMD Tuning.com and ABBA Rollcentre Racing move from BMW to the new Mercedes AMG. The Ginetta dominated GT4’s ranks are joined by six McLaren 570S’ with the Aston Martin Vantage again appearing along with a single Porsche Cayman, Toyota and UltraTek Racing/Team RJN’s pair of Nissan 370Z’s.
Returning drivers include last year’s champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adams, Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris and Anna Walewska who is now paired with Mike Simpson, backed again by Century Motorsport. Walewska finished 7th in last year’s Championship and also won the Dubai 24 Hours SP3 class in 2016. She remains with the University of Bolton team for a third year. Mike Simpson has competed in the series the for the last six years most recently in GT3 with Tolman Motorsport.
Some of those making their debut in the Championship this year are Parker Chase; last year’s Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55 GT4 Rookie of the Year, the 16 year old is paired with 20 year old Charlie Robertson who competed in the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup last season. The GT3 duo are racing Century Motorsport‘s second Ginetta G55 in the Championship.
Another new addition to the Series is last year’s BTCC runner up Sam Tordoff. Co-driving with Liam Griffin in Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan, Tordoff has tested most recently in Barcelona adjusting to the rapid Huracan. He competed in the Dubai 24HR with HB Racing earlier this year in preparation for his British GT assault, but was unable to finish the race retiring after just 46 laps when the Huracan caught fire due to a damaged fuel line.
Tordoff who is also competing in the Blancpain GT Series in one of Strakka Racings four cars looks forward to being able to race on European circuits, something he was unable to do while competing in BTCC. Tordoff confirmed late last year that he wouldn’t be returning to the popular series, more recently stating that he felt he had nowhere else to go within British Touring Cars having already achieved much of what was possible.
In the first of the days test sessions reigning champion Derek Johnston took pole in the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage, with James Littlejohn of Macmillan AMR in second place just 0.019 of a second behind them and the Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini in third place.
The afternoon session saw the Bentley Continental of Team Parker driven by Rick Parfitt come in first, with Barwell Motorsport in second and Lee Mowle in the new AMDTuning.com Mercedes in 3rd.
The British GT season looks to be a well contested one with a great mix of Silver and Pro/Am drivers across both classes. The first round of the series takes place at Oulton Park on April 15th to 17th.
Allison Remzi All images ©Andy Fitzpatrick