This weekend sees another packed entry of competitors on the British GT Championship’s grid at Spa-Francorchamps for the race this weekend. With just five weeks having passed since the last outing of the championship at Silverstone the GT4 European Series will be joining the British GT once again but this time for round six of the British GT Championship at the Belgian circuit. The 4.352-mile-long circuit is a favourite track for the majority of drivers and teams on the grid. The season is now moving into the second half, which means everyone is fighting to grab as many points as possible during the remaining races. If teams and drivers succeed in taking a strong result at the historic and famous circuit it can put them into having an opportunity to play a key part in the championship fight.
So far this season there are currently five teams within the fight for the title as the GT4 European competitors join in on the grid. There are seventeen senior entries and eighth different manufacturers that are all heading over to Belgium to compete this weekend. However, there are multiple changes on the number of cars that lined up for the previous round of the British GT championship at Silverstone. The competitors from the British GTs who are regularly running up the front of the grid will be testing themselves against two European heavyweight competitors. The two European entries are front running Grasser Racing Team (GRT) and the reigning Nurburgring 24 Hours winner Black Falcon. GRT will be running a pair of Lamborghini Huracan GT3s which both have factory drivers at the wheel with BTCC regular Hunter Abbott joining the team too. Abbott has previously been successful at Spa back in 2009. Black Falcon will be entering two new for 2016 Mercedes AMG GT3, which are making their debut in the series with the works backed team.
The TF Sport Aston Martin on track at the season opener. Picture Credit: Ambrose Motorsport Photography
There are five teams within the grasp of taking the drivers’ championship lead. TF Sport pairing of Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam are continuing to lead the drivers’ championship table, which they have been leading since the season began at Brands Hatch in mid-April. The duo broke their streak of scoring points consistently at Silverstone with a non-points finish, this weekend they will be fighting to get back on the podium after they have been three races without standing up on the podium. Last year at Spa, Adam won the race so he will be hoping to repeat the victory.
There is one team standing in the way, Barwell Motorsport. Their pair of Lamborghini Huracans have won two of the past three rounds of the British GT championship. Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen were victorious at Silverstone which saw them leap up into second within the standings, just 11.5 points behind Adam and Johnston. Liam Griffin is a further ten points behind in third place. The #6 Lamborghini Huracan that Griffin shares with Alexander Sims they will be quite a big threat to the TF Sport pairing.
Team Parker Racing’s #31 Bentley Continental GT3 still remains within the fight for the drivers’ championship title despite getting a DNF at Silverstone. Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris were unable to convert pole position into a win at Silverstone after having an off track excursion which damaged the car, forcing the team to retire from the race. This weekend the Team Parker duo will be looking to finish the weekend with a big haul of points to keep their title fight alive.
Half a point behind Team Parker’s driver pairing is the AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 GT3 in the hands of Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne. The two were quite successful at Silverstone where they finished second in the hectic race. Lee Mowle was spectacularly fast last year at Spa but with the two having a fifteen second pit stop success penalty to serve will the duo be able to be successful once again?
Rob Bell will be looking to transfer his good form shown in the Blancpain GT Series into his Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren to claim the team and manufacturer’s first victory so far this season. Last year at Spa it was Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard who was victorious alongside Jonny Adam but this year Howard has a new co-driver in Ross Gunn, they are also searching for their first win as they have not got onto the top step of the podium since Snetterton in 2015.
Spa is known for its microclimate which often makes the weather very unpredictable. Tolman Motorsport will be hoping for changing weather conditions as their two Ginettas had a strong showing at Silverstone in the changeable conditions. Due to David Pattison’s business commitments only the #32 Ginetta G55 GT3 will be attending the Spa-Francorchamps round of the championship.
Optimum Motorsport were another team to record its best result of the 2016 season so far last time out at Silverstone with the Audi R8 LMS scoring fourth. Spa has been known to be a ‘happy hunting ground’ for Audis competing in multiple other championships during previous years. Ryan Ratcliffe and Will Moore have proven they are capable of mixing in with the front running cars despite having issues during the opening round of the season. They will be looking to secure their first podium of the year as they are a proving to be a strong driver pairing.
The Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS on track at Brands Hatch during the opening round of the season. Picture Credit: Ambrose Motorsport Photography.
PFL Motorsport will be missing at this round of the championship. The team were very unlucky at Silverstone last time out, the car ended the race with a DNF but then when packing up there was a very unfortunate accident that occurred when putting the car back into the transporter. This has ruled Pete Littler and Jody Fanin in the Aston Martin out of competing at Spa as they have been unable to fix the damaged race transporter truck.
Team Parker will be having their second Bentley Continental at the Belgium round with Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod at the wheel, this guarantees a total of seventeen GT3 entries.
The timetable for the weekend to follow the British GT is as follows:
Friday 8th July:
Free Practice One – 09:35 – 10:25
Free Practice Two – 12:25 – 13:15
Qualifying GT3 AM – 15:45 – 15:57
Qualifying GT3 PRO – 16:02 – 16:14
Qualifying GT4 AM – 16:19 – 16:31
Qualifying GT4 PRO – 16:36 – 16:48
Saturday 9th July:
RACE – 12:35 – 14:35
The current British GT lap records around Spa-Francorchamps are:
GT3 – 2:22.988 – Tom Onslow Cole – Strata 21 – Aston Martin – 2014.
GT4 – 2:35.497 – Gavan Kershaw – ISSY Racing – Lotus Evora GT4 – 2014.
The teams having to endure pit stop success penalties in GT3 are:
20 Seconds – Barwell Motorsport – Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
15 Seconds – AmDTuning.com – Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne.
10 Seconds – Not Applicable as drivers are not competing at Spa.
©Fay Tilley 7th July 2016.