This weekend sees the British GT Championship roll into Oulton Park, located in Cheshire for rounds three and four of the season. This race weekend will take place on the International circuit layout.
This year marks the first year that the Cheshire based circuit has not hosted the opening rounds of the season but organisers have kept the tradition of two one-hour races. The weekend sees the first of the weekends staging two sixty minute races instead of the single two hour races as seen at Brands Hatch and Rockingham. The two different race grids will be set by individual drivers. The Am drivers will set the grid for one of the contests and the Pros for the other encounter. This will prove to be a different but still difficult weekend for the teams as they try to stay out of trouble and hope for a damage-free weekend. The hour-long encounters will give drivers less chance to establish any advantages or to get away with mistakes as both races take place on Monday. However, the drivers who are carrying pit stop success penalties from Rockingham will have a second chance to show their capabilities during race two.
Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston will be the biggest talking point throughout the weekend as they have been unbeatable so far. Although Adam is doubling up and also competing in the 24 hours of Nurburgring. The duo managed to win the round of the championship at Rockingham despite having a twenty second success penalty applied to their pit stop time.
The driver pairing could make history this weekend as they attempt to make it three outright wins in a row, which last happened in 2010 with Glynn Geddie and David Ashburn. Also no team have managed to win the first three rounds of a season since Tim Mullen and Chris Niarchos back in 2006. During 2006 the same driver pairing won four races in a row, this record is one Johnston will be aiming to take after he won at Donington Park during the 2015 finale and then the first two opening rounds of the 2016 season. Another record being chased is the number of GT3 race wins, the record is currently held joint by Hector Lester and David Ashburn who both have eleven wins to their name. Jonny Adam will be fighting with all his mite to break the record at Oulton Park. The records they are aiming to break were all set during a time when there were no pit-stop success penalties for the drivers. Throughout the opening part of the 2016 season Adam and Johnston have overcame the success penalties, which makes them even more record hungry. During the opening hour race of the weekend the duo will have to endure a ten second success penalty during their pit stop…will the duo be able to take victory once again?
Barwell Motorsport’s Liam Griffin and Adam Carroll proved their pace during the race at Rockingham, they are definitely a pairing not to rule out of the podium contenders. The duo were handed a late drive-through penalty at Rockingham after they were looking to finish on the podium. This could work in their favour as they will not have to worry about the success penalties.
Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen were able to show what they were capable of aboard their Barwell Motorsport run Lamborghini Huracan at Rockingham after their DNF at Brands Hatch. The duo benefited from Carroll being given the drive-through penalty as they finished second during the race. The Demon Tweeks backed Huracan will have to endure a seven second success penalty added onto their pit stop time. This driver pairing for Barwell Motorsport are definitely one duo to watch.
Third in the championship is Beachdean AMR’s Ross Gunn and Andrew Howard, they have made a consistent approach to the 2016 season. This duo will have to endure a five second success penalty being applied to their pit stop time after they finished third in the race at Rockingham.
Team Parker Racing’s Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr started the year in style by claiming the first pole position and race victory during the opening round of the season. They had a bad time at Rockingham after Parfitt Jnr had an accident in practice meaning the duo could not qualify for the race and had to start at the back of GT3. They will not have to endure any success penalty so could they be on for victory number two?…
Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell in their McLaren 650S GT3 showed their pace at Rockingham but an electrical gremlin prevented them from finishing on the podium.
Meanwhile, after suffering a disastrous weekend at Brands Hatch Motorbase Performance managed to finish in fifth place at Rockingham with Ross Wylie and Phil Dryburgh at the wheel of the car.
Tolman Motorsport will definitely be looking to improve on the opening two rounds of the season after Luke Davenport’s Ginetta caught fire at Brands Hatch at the end of the race and Mike Simpson and Ian Stinton have had no luck during the opening rounds.
The current British GT lap records for the Oulton Park International circuit are:
GT3: 1:35.549 ~ Adam Carroll ~ FF Corse ~ Ferrari 458 Italia (2015)
GT4: 1:43.674 ~ Luke Davenport ~ Tolman Motorsport ~ Ginetta G55 GT4(2015)
The timetable for the weekend is:
Free Practice One ~ 09:30 – 10:30
Free Practice Two ~ 12:35 – 13:25
GT3 Am Qualifying ~ 15:50 – 16:00
GT3 Pro Qualifying ~ 16:04 – 16:14
GT4 Am Qualifying ~ 16:18 – 16:28
GT4 Pro Qualifying ~ 16:33 – 16:43
Warm Up ~ 08:55 – 09:05
Race One ~ 11:15 – 12:15
Race Two ~ 15:30 – 16:30
©Fay Tilley 27th May 2016.