This weekend will see the British GTs back on track for round two of the season at Rockingham Motor Speedway, located in Corby.
Just two weeks prior saw the opening round of the season get underway at Brands Hatch on the GP circuit. Teams across both the GT3 and GT4 fighting to claim the early bragging rights in the championship. This weekend will see the GT field use the slightly shorter 1.94-mile-long International Super Sportcar Circuit at the Northamptonshire circuit, it will be the first time it has been used since 2011 for the British GTs. It is looking very unlikely that you will see the same driver pairings excel and claim victory again during this round as all the podium finishers have to endure pit stop penalties.
The main teams seen to be successful at Brands Hatch were Optimum Motorsport/PMW Expo Racing with Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson at the wheel of their Ginetta G55 GT4, Century Motorsport with Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke at the wheel of their Ginetta G55 GT4 and RCIB Insurance Racing/Team Hard Racing with Jordan Stilp and William Phillips at the wheel of their Ginetta G55 GT4. The obvious factor in GT4 seems to be the success of the strong Ginetta G55 cars as the podium was locked out by Ginettas.
Rockingham’s race winner will very likely come elsewhere as Optimum Motorsport’s Johnson and Robinson will endure a twenty second pit stop penalty for winning the opening round of the GT4 class. Century Motorsport’s Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke will endure a fifteen second pit stop penalty after finishing in second at Brands Hatch and RCIB Insurance Racing’s Jordan Stilp and William Phillips will endure a ten second pit stop penalty after finishing third two weeks ago. Nobody knows what could happen around the Northamptonshire circuit as anything could happen with the competitive field of cars.
Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robsinson’s race winning Ginetta G55 GT4. Photo Credit: Craig Robertson – http://www.racephotography.net
One make of car should definitely not be ruled out and that is Aston Martin, there will hopefully be five of the V8 Vantage GT4s lining up on the very competitive grid during the weekend at Rockingham. The main one being in the hands of reigning GT4 Driver’s champion Jamie Chadwick and teammate Matthew George at the wheel of newcomers AMR SuperRacing. Jamie Chadwick endured problems at Brands Hatch where she was penalised for abusing track limits by cutting corners around the circuit during qualifying so as a result she had her fastest laps removed. The pair started from thirteenth two weeks ago and managed to climb up to finish fourth in their class during the team’s debut in the championship. The pairing will not have to serve a pit stop penalty due to finishing in fourth. One reason the pairing will very likely be successful is because Jamie Chadwick set the fastest lap time around the circuit just twelve months ago.
The same can be said for Beachdean AMR, they dominated this round of the season last year with Ross Gunn and Jamie Chadwick at the wheel of their Aston Martin, this year the team have a new teenage silver cup driver pairing in Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert, both having moved up from single seaters. The new pairing for the 2016 season proved how competitive they really can be by finishing in fifth place at Brands Hatch after Jordan Albert got pushed out wide and took a trip through the Paddock Hill gravel trap only a few laps prior to the end of the race. If he had not been pushed out wide, it is very possible that they would have taken a podium during the opening round of the season. So they will definitely be a pair to watch as they hope to fight their way to victory and success.
Another newcomer team to watch will be Generation AMR Macmillan Racing with Matty Graham and Jack Mitchell at the wheel of their Aston Martin. The team and both drivers are new to the championship and will be hoping to put the disastrous Brands Hatch round of the championship firmly behind them after Graham was caught up in an accident that could have been avoided. Graham was fighting for second place with Beachdean’s Jack Bartholomew before the incident occurred. The previous duo had both attempted to go round a slow moving Ginetta as they entered onto the GP loop when Phil Dryburgh in the Motorbase GT3 car attempted to go round the outside of both the slow moving Ginetta and Graham all at the same time. The result being that Dryburgh and Graham rubbed wheels which sent the Motorbase car into the air on two wheel, Graham was then pushed under the car which sent Dryburgh into multiple nose to tail rolls. Meanwhile Graham was sent across the circuit collecting Nick Jones’ rear in the process. Jones’ took the car back to the pit lane and was able to re-join the circuit after bodywork had been secured down whereas Graham and Dryburgh retired on the spot, bringing out the full course yellows and first code 80 of the season. The Aston Martin of Graham and Mitchell should be back at the sharp end of the field at Rockingham sporting its Hesketh inspired livery.
Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570s are another pairing to have both made the step up from single seaters to GT racing for the 2016 season. The team and both drivers are currently developing the cars exclusively in the British GT with McLaren’s support. During the opening round at Brands Hatch the duo proved that they can be competitive as they managed to have good battles with their fellow competitors to bring the car home in a respectable sixth place. It is highly expected that the duo will only get better and better as the season gets underway.
The Maserati of Abbie Eaton and Marcus Hoggarth run by Eborg GT Motorsport showed small signs of its potential during the opening round but still has a little way to go before it can be challenging for podiums.
The timetable for the upcoming race weekend is as follows:
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
Warm Up ~ 09:15 – 09:35
Race ~ 13:00 – 15:00
© Fay Tilley 28th April 2016.