This weekend sees the British GT Champion roar into life once again for their season opener taking place at Oulton Park. The Cheshire based circuit has hosted more opening rounds of the past twenty-five seasons than any other. The 2.692 mile long circuit is one of the most popular circuit among both spectators and drivers. There will only be on track activity on Saturday and Monday during this Easter weekend with huge crowds expected to attend track-side.
There will be a thirty-two car field consisting of sixty-four drivers. The field will consist of twelve GT3 cars and twenty GT4s with a total of eleven manufacturers. The opening race of the weekend will be the only race of the season that will not feature the pit stop success penalties due to there being no previous successful pairings to penalise in each class but they will return for the second race.
In the GT3 class there are lots of potential race winners on the grid – one of the most competitive ever. Ginetta, Bentley, Aston Martin and Lamborghini are all returning to the championship, also returning are new generation models from Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari who are entering for a full season for the first time. The top four teams from last year have all returned and have not changed. The Teams’ championship should have an entertaining season long battle. The championship also has a BTCC drivers who has chosen to switch to British GT.
The reigning Drivers’ and Team’s champions TF Sport are returning with their two Aston Martin V12s and no doubt they will be battling at the front of the field.
Barwell Motorsport narrowly missed out on both of the titles last year and are expected to be hungrier than ever for victory. Their two Lamborghini Huracans locked out the front row in qualifying at Oulton Park last year so no doubt they will be fighting for pole once again with new signing Sam Tordoff.
Team Parker Racing’s Bentley in the hands of Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris is another talented pairing returning to the GT3 field. The duo are eager to get a better result this time around after finishing third in the championship last year.
Century Motorsport are stepping into the GT3 field with two works backed Ginetta G55s.
AF Corse and Ferrari’s full season return has been a major talking point already. The new generation 488 GT3 made a one off appearance in the hands of the FF Corse team last year. Two new generation Mercedes AMG GT3s add more variety to the grid.
Macmillan AMR have graduated into the GT3 class with their Aston Martin V1.
As well as racing in the two British GT races Jonny Adam and Matt Griffin will also be racing in the Silverstone six hour FIA World Endurance Championship on Sunday.
If Parker Chase manages to take a victory in the Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3 on Monday he will be the youngest overall and class winner in British GT history.
In the GT4 class there are twenty cars competing – this being the largest ever entry to the class with fourteen teams and seventeen manufacturers. Reigning champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson are returning to defend their title.
The competition the duo will face has got more competitive this year after three former GT3 drivers have joined the class. Joe Osborne and Mike Simpson are two of the former GT3 drivers to move into GT4s. Ginetta have seven full season entries, which could possibly be the most in the class. There is no doubt the six McLaren 570S’ will be embroiled in battles throughout the season. In GT4 there is only two Aston Martin V8 Vantages entered for this season. There is also a pair of Nissan 370Z’s entered for a full season. In2Racing and Track-Club are entering the championship with McLarens.
Century Motorsport, Macmillan AMR and Team Parker Racing are all fielding entries in both classes for the year.
Another car on the grid will be the Ebor GT Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4. GPRM’s Toyota GT86 is also set to be competing at Oulton Park.
Lanan Racing and HHC Motorsport are both entering a single Ginetta G55 GT4 each for the season.
The racing this weekend will be shown live on the Front Runner tv channel. The live coverage of the two races start at 10:45 for race one before the second starts at 15:00 on Monday.
09:30 – 10:30 – Free Practice One
12:15 – 13:15 – Free Practice Two
16:20 – 16:30 – Qualifying GT3 AM
16:34 – 16:44 – Qualifying GT3 Pro
16:48 – 16:58 – Qualifying GT4 AM
17:03 – 17:13 – Qualifying GT4 Pro
09:30 – 09:40 – Warm Up
11:10 – 12:10 – Race One
15:30 – 16:30 – Race Two
Photo Credit : Jakob Ebrey Photography.
© Fay Tilley 13th April 2017.