The 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship gets underway 79 days later than originally planned this weekend. MSV‘s Oulton Park circuit in Cheshire plays host to a vastly reduced entry for the season opener. The consequences of racing during the Covid-19 pandemic making themselves instantly visible.
Even following the action from home is going to be much harder this weekend. Limitations of the venue mean that media will not be present.
Lets take a look back, on the last round and Oulton Park 2019. Then we’ll look ahead to the opening round of the championship, which is set to be a thriller.
Last Time on The British GT Championship:
The last race of the British GT Championship was the #DoningtonDecider which crowned champions in all but one class. The Silver Cup championship in GT3 had already fallen to the might of Optimum Motorsport, their Aston Martin taking the title at the penultimate round at Brands Hatch. It still left GT3 Pro/Am, GT4 Silver Cup and of course the two overall class championships to be decided.
The GT4 Pro/Am battle was claimed by a whopping 44 point margin by Kelvin Fletcher and his pro co-driver Martin Plowman. With only 37.5 points on the table at the final round, they couldn’t be caught either in the Beechdean AMR run GT4 version of the Aston Martin.
In GT4 the overall title went the way of the #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 of TF Sport‘s Tom Canning and Ash Hand. The duo raced a conservative race to third place on the road but their lead in the title fight headed into the 2 hour clash meant that third place was enough. The #97 was also a Silver Cup entry, and claimed that title at the same time.
Steller Performance took a second win with their Audi R8 LMS GT4 for Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams. Season long title hopefuls Multimatic Motorsports were left wanting. Seb Priaux and Scott Maxwell took second on the road, equalling their eventual second place title finish.
Claiming the GT4 overall title also cemented, by just a single point from Tolman Motorsport, the GT4 Teams championship.
GT3 – Battle Royale at Donington Park
Barwell Motorsport left Donington Park champions in GT3. But despite a strong season, where both cars performed brilliantly, it was only the team’s championship they managed to claim. The GT3 overall title was grasped in a thrilling final race by TF Sport, cementing a triple championship victory for the outfit.
The main rivals for the title were the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO of Adam Balon and Phil Keen. Their hopes were dashed however by a seemingly inconsequential contact whilst lapping GT4 traffic. Balon continued on after brushing the Track Focussed KTM at Schwanz Curve but when Keen climbed aboard, he literally drove the wheels off the Lambo, resulting in a long pitstop for repairs and a dashed championship hope.
The #69 Lamborghini, the team mate car, of Sam de Haan and Jonny Cocker then became serious title hopefuls but they could only win, and hope that the TF Sport machine of Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam didn’t take sixth place.
Contact in the dying laps robbed the TF machine of sixth, Dennis Lind in the WPI Lamborghini misjudged his braking into Old Hairpin and hit the Aston Martin on the rear. It pushed Jonny Adam wide and sealing the title for Barwell. That was until the stewards ruled against the move and gave the WPI car a penalty and TF Sport’s hopefuls the 2.5 point margin of victory they needed.
Barwell win on the road but lose in the Stewards room.
Despite the overall result, the GT3 Pro/Am title did go the way of Barwell Motorsport. The #69 crew took the honour by 2 points from the overall champions. Its a peculiarity of having each car entered in two different championships at the same time; where overall points and class points are awarded for each finishing position. A more consistent season from de Haan and Cocker was rewarded.
Sam de Haan also claimed the Blancpain Trophy for gentleman drivers. He scored 2 points more than Graham Davidson to take this championship.
It was the end of a remarkable year for the new Aston Martin Vantage. With brand new GT3 and GT4 machines in action, the brand took six of the nine available titles, TF Sport laying claim to five of those.
Oulton Park – 2019 Highlights.
Oulton Park in 2019 was a meeting of troubles and triumph. Troubles which mainly affected the #22 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 of Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell. Arriving at the circuit with a car so new it didn’t even have a livery yet is not the best way to start a championship challenge. When that car develops an electrical fault which parks it for the entire weekend, you can point to Oulton Park as the reason we didn’t crown McLaren champions at Donington.
Race 1 of the season was claimed by Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, reunited in a Bentley thanks to JRM Racing. They took the lead after a mistake from Ryan Ratcliffe in the Team Parker Racing Continental knocked the #7 machine and Ian Loggie‘s #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG out of contention.
Barwell Motorsport’s Balon and Keen took second place ahead of Bradley Ellis and Ollie Wilkinson in the Optimum Aston Martin.
In GT4 the first race was a McLaren domination session. HHC Motorsport took the victory with a stunning run on their first competitive outing with the 570S GT4. Tolman Motorsport took second and third after all three McLarens worked their way past lightening quick Ford Mustangs from Multimatic to take the podium spots.
Race 2: Lamborghini and Ford take spoils at Oulton Park.
Race 2 was claimed by Barwell, de Haan and Cocker working to reach the front of the field before GT3 debutant de Haan harrowed Richard Neary into a mistake at Hislops chicane to take the lead. Neary fought back in the dying ten minutes of the race but de Haan held on, whilst Andrew Howard from Beechdean AMR claimed third place.
GT4 was a story of Mustangs to the fore. Seb Priaulx held the lead from the lights to the pit stops before handing over to Scott Maxwell for the second stint. Even success seconds in the stops and 14 seconds of Silver Cup extra time in the lane couldn’t stop the Mustang which emerged from the pits third in class behind the safety car. Both Steve McCulley in the Invictus Games Racing Jaguar and defending class champion Nick Jones did a great job of defending but there was no hopes of holding off the Ford which left the circuit with the big trophy and cries of unfair BOP in its wake.
How to follow British GT at Oulton Park:
Live Streaming Video:
Both British GT races will be shown live on the championship’s Facebook page, Twitter account and website, plus SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, on Sunday 2 August.
Sunday’s support races will also be shown live on britishgt.com/live throughout the day.
There is no streaming service available for qualifying.
All major motorsport news websites will be covering the series; though with the restrictions in place for Oulton Park due to Covid-19, none will be at the circuit.
We will be publishing a post race photo-report in the days following the action and of course will analyse in depth on the next episode of the British GT Fans Show. Nick will be at the circuit on Sunday taking photos but will not have access to the paddock.
Watching at the Circuit:
Tickets are on sale for the opening round of the championship via the Oulton Park website. Online sales end on Friday ahead of the event. Tickets will not be sold on the gate. Camping is available at the circuit, with toilets and showers available throughout the weekend.
There is no pits or paddock access at Oulton Park this year.
Restaurants and food outlets will be available, with limited hospitality options and of course, access to toilets around the venue.
Please remember to bring:
Where can I view the Action?
Public viewing is available in the following areas:
Oulton Park 2020 – Entry List