British GT: Spa Preview

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Source: BritishGT.com

This Friday sees the British GT championship back in action at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium. The yearly away trip to Spa has a strong thirty-four car entry for the two days of circuit action.

In addition to the British GT runners there will also be some of the Blancpain GT Series front runners in the GT3 class. In the GT4 field there is some new and old faces joining the grid.

So far six of the ten races for the British GT championship have been competed at circuits around the UK. This is the biggest grid of the season so far for the championship with fourteen GT3s and twenty GT4 entries to race on the iconic circuit.

Traditionally Spa hosts one two-hour race for the British GT competitors but this year will host two one-hour races instead.

Last time out at Silverstone there were some surprising results, this having thrown both the GT3 and GT4 title fights wide open again – just the way we like it right? There is no doubt the races this weekend could throw a spanner in the works of the championship.

GT3

This weekend is the largest GT3 grid this year – with four one-off entries included in the field for this weekend. You’d expect the full season contenders to be the front running cars but the new entries could change it up.

After taking the victory at Silverstone last time out, Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris have closed in on Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the title race. Keen and Minshaw have lead the championship since the opening round at Oulton Park back in April. The gap is just four points so with just four races remaining – who will come out on top?

Last year it was Parfitt Jnr and Morris on pole position, they were also only 0.7 seconds away from winning the race. Their Bentley should suit the fast flowing circuit but they will have a ten second pitstop success penalty to serve during the pit stop window of race one.

So far this year the reigning Champions Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston have endured a tough season aboard their TF Sport Aston Martin. They have secured one win and two podium finishes. Their trip to Spa last year saw a practice crash which compromised any success that weekend.

Their TF Sport teammates have shown that there is potential in the Aston Martins. Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes have demonstrated the pace in the cars when they went on to take their maiden victory in GT3.

Team Parker Racing’s Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod’s points total does not justify the effort the duo have put in to this season. They have set two of the fastest laps in GT3 during the season courtesy of Macleod.

They should have secured their first British GT podium at Silverstone and will have two chances to push for that podium this weekend. They will have two opportunities to put the past behind the after a practice crash ended their chances at Spa twelve months ago before their weekend had begun.

Blancpain GT Series regulars Kornely Motorsport are making their British GT debut in their Mercedes AMG with Kenneth Heyer and Patrick Assenheimer at the wheel. Joining them on the grid will be three more race-by-race entries, all who compete in the Blaincpain GT Series.

Team WRT, a factory Audi team, will be running an R8 LMS with Alain Ferte and Stuart Leonard on driving duties. Ferrari backed Kessel Racing are running a 488 with Piti Bhirombhakdi and Carlo van adam on driving duties. Barwell Motorsport have entered a third Lamborghini for Adrian Amstutz and Patrick Kojala – completing the fourteen car GT3 entries.

GT4 

Twenty GT4 cars are heading to Spa-Francorchamps this weekend. Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and David Pittard have been the most consistent duo in the class. This sees them leading the standings for GT4 by 3.5 points.

Track-club’s Adam Balon and Adam Mackay claimed their second win of the season last month at Silverstone and no doubt will be looking to take another victory at Spa.  Reed and Pittard are one of three different pairings to have managed to score points during every race throughout the first six races. They have taken podiums in three of them too.

Reed claimed both his and Lanan Racing’s maiden British GT victory last year at Spa. The Track-club duo will have to serve a ten second success penalty during their pit stop in the opening race of the weekend. They will benefit from all of the Silver Cup pairings being held stationary for extra time too.

HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton are in the title race but have suffered two DNFs during the latest two races which has seen their 27.5 point lead become a -5.5 deficit. No doubt the two young stars will be looking to get their essential victories during this weekend’s races to get their title fight back on track.

At the top of the standings in the GT4 championship it’s a tight fight between Ginetta and McLaren. Reigning champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson managed to salvage sixth from a tough first race at Silverstone in their brand new McLaren 570S. They now sit just half a point ahead of the Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S in the hands of Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty.

Ebor GT are returning to the championship with their Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4 after sitting out since 2016’s final round. The team have signed Charlie Fagg to pilot the car with Matthew Graham moving from In2Racing to Ebor GT to partner Fagg on his debut.

There’s changes occurring at Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing as Adam Hatfield and Ben Wallace join forces, creating a Silver Cup pairing in the first of the Team Hard run Ginettas.

Hatfield is heading to Spa after taking a class win with Team Cooksport in the 12 Hours of Imola race last weekend and he’ll be looking to impress during his debut weekend. The second of the Team Hard run Ginettas will be driven by Jake Giddings, who joined the team at Snetterton but has been called in again to replace Sam Webster – partnering Matt Chapman.

The annual trip to Spa was not part of the championship’s original Live TV deal made with Front Runner. Channel 4, BT Sport and Motorsport TV will all show delayed highlights from both races. If you’d like to watch live, there is a live stream available from Spa’s CCTV system.

The lap record at Spa-Francorchamps for GT3 lies with Barwell Motorsport’s Alexander Sims driving a Lamborghini Huracan in 2016, setting a best of 2:21.830. The GT4 lap record is held by Sandy Mitchell. He set the record when he record as driving for Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S last year. His time was 2:34.552.

Pit stop success penalties for Race One:

GT3 

10s (Team Parker Racing – Parfitt Jnr/Morris #31)

7s (Macmillan AMR – Littlejohn/Mitchell #24)

5s (Spirit of Race – Cameron/Griffin #21)

GT4

10s (Track-club – Balon/Mackay #72)

7s (Academy Motorsport – Moore/Nicoll-Jones #62)

5 (In2Racing – Hoggarth/Anttila #29)

Timetable:

Friday 7th July 

9:00 – 10:00: Free Practice One

11:30 – 12:30: Free Practice Two

16:15 – 16:25: Qualifying – GT3 Am

16:30 – 16:40: Qualifying – GT3 Pro

16:45 – 16:55: Qualifying – GT4 Am

17:00 – 17:10: Qualifying – GT4 Pro

Saturday 8th July 

09:20 – 10:20: Race One

13:00 – 14:00: Race Two

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