This weekend the British GT championship will roar back onto track, this time at Rockingham located in Corby, Northamptonshire for round two.

The first round of the championship took place at Brands Hatch and there were quite a few surprises during the weekend. The weekend was filled with excitement as teams and drivers across both GT3 and GT4 classes battled for early bragging rights in the championship. The main question being raised is will those cars and driver pairings that succeeded at Brands Hatch excel again at Rockingham? After all it is a completely different circuit to the Kent based Brands Hatch. Rockingham will host the second of the two-hour races, which for the first time since 2011 is being held on the slightly shorter 1.94-mile long International Super Sportscar Circuit.

Two weeks ago at Brands Hatch four different manufacturers filled the top four positions, the range of different manufacturers will once again be shown at Rockingham due to there being seven different makes of car represented in just the senior class (GT3). All of the podium finishers will be expecting to serve varying degrees of pit stop success penalties. This could see an unexpected driver pairing take victory.

Reigning drivers’ champion Jonny Adam and teammate Derek Johnston, run by TF Sport, lived up to everyone’s thoughts of them being title favourites by winning the opening race of the season at Brands Hatch. Due to winning the opening race the pair will be given a twenty second pit stop penalty. This could make it difficult to clinch two victories in a row. However, still expect the Aston to be a strong top six contender.

Exactly the same thing could be said for Team Parker’s Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr who outshined their own and everyone else’s expectations by securing pole position at Brands Hatch after both drivers setting the fastest lap time in both the Pro and Am class qualifying sessions. It was very clear to see that the Bentley Continental GT3 has race winning pace, no doubt they would have won the Brands Hatch round of the season if Eborg’s Maserati had not prevented Parfitt Jnr from pulling onto the team’s fuel rig in the pit lane. This driver pairing will be burdened with a fifteen second pit stop penalty after finishing second in the opening round.

Barwell Motorsport’s Liam Griffin and new teammate Adam Carroll in the #6 Lamborghini Huracan will endure a ten second pit stop penalty after Griffin and previous teammate Fabio Babini finished at Brands Hatch in third on the podium for GT3. Expect to see the sister Huracan to be a stronger victory contender during this round. Jon Minshaw was lying second during the opening round before contact from a GT4 Ginetta forced him to retire from the race. The team based in Surrey are usually very successful around Rockingham after winning at the circuit last year, although in a BMW. It will soon be shown whether the Huracans can be as successful around the circuit.

Another car and driver pairing not to miss out is the AMDTuning.com Z4 in the hands of Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne. They had been running in second but a post-race penalty saw them drop to fourth, just missing out on a podium. Both drivers will definitely be on the hunt to claim their first GT3 victory.

Also Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse’s Mclaren 650s GT3 will be a contender for a podium around the Northamptonshire circuit. Their Pro driver Rob Bell set what was at the time three consecutive fastest laps around the Brands Hatch circuit two weeks ago during his stint of the race.

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Overall Race and GT3 Class Winning Team Parker Racing Bentley in the hands of Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris. Photo Credit: Craig Robertson – http://www.racephotography.net

The ‘dark horses’ of this upcoming weekend could be Beachdean AMR, their opening round at Brands Hatch was compromised when Andrew Howard made the decision to skip qualifying to instead go compete and win the opening round of the European Lemans Series (ELMS) at Silverstone. The reigning GT3 Driver’s champion made it back down to the Kent based circuit in time for race day to commence. He and Ross Gunn, who is the current reigning GT4 Driver’s champion, managed to gain nine places and climb up to fifth. Gunn made it clear that he has the talent and right mentality to be competing with the ‘big boys’ in GT3 as he had close but fairly battles with a variety of other competitors whilst also learning how to appropriately overtake the backmarkers in the GT4 class.

Both Tolman Motorsport and Optimum Motorsport will both be very eager to put a disastrous Brands Hatch opening weekend behind them and impressing around Rockingham. Unfortunately, at the opening round of the championship the Audi of Will Moore and Ryan Ratcliffe, run by Optimum Motorsport, ended its race in the gravel trap after the pair battled against the car all through the race weekend. Whereas, Tolman Motorsport had a disastrous weekend of the #32 Ginetta G55 GT3 was bumped off the road by Phil Dryburgh, followed by an off with Ian Stinton at the wheel and eventually they retired from the race. The sister car for Tolman Motorsport caught fire on the last lap of the race which brought out the red flag, terminating the race and the chequered flag was waved once all cars were back in the pit lane. The fire turned out to be the catalytic converters in the rear of the car but it is believed to have not caused too much damage to the car.

The opposite can be said for Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie, Dryburgh was seen to be battling against the car in the beginning of the race but seemed to get it handling better as the race went on. At some point during the opening race the Motorbase car was handed a pit lane drive through. Disaster struck with just over forty minutes having been completed. Phil Dryburgh in the #8 Motorbase Aston Martin and the AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin with Matthew Graham at the wheel rubbed wheels launching the GT3 car of Dryburgh into the air flipping nose to tail multiple times before coming to a stop further down the road towards Pilgrims Drop. It’s safe to say the Motorbase Aston was definitely a write off. Matthew Graham’s car was sent spinning across the circuit collecting the rear end of Nick Jones’ Ginetta before Graham’s car came to a stop further up the road and Nick Jones managed to drive his car back round to the pit lane. Safe to say all three drivers escaped the crash unharmed, this proved how strong and safe the teams build their cars to be. The incident caused quite a bit of damage to the barriers that weren’t able to be repaired during the race weekend, so that section of the track was put under permanent yellow flags meaning no overtaking was permitted. This was definitely not the start of the season either of the teams were hoping for.

The timetable for the British GTs at Rockingham is as follows:

Saturday

Free Practice One ~ 09:45 – 10:45

Free Practice Two ~ 11:55 – 12:45

Qualifying (GT3 Am) ~ 15:35 – 15:45

Qualifying (GT3 Pro) ~ 15:49 – 15:59

Qualifying (GT4 Am) ~ 16:03 – 16:13

Qualifying (GT4 Pro) ~ 16:18 – 16:28

Sunday

Warm Up ~ 09:25 – 09:35

Race ~ 13:00 – 15:00

 

© Fay Tilley 28th April 2016.

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