The Avon Tyres British GT Championship returns to the spiritual home of sports car racing, the majestic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, this week for a double helping of track action, with a continuing battle for championship supremacy between the teams fielding the latest Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, Corvette, Aston Martin and Ginetta GT3 machinery.
After the two-hour endurance epics held at Snetterton and Brands Hatch, the championship format for Spa is for twin one-hour races, both of them on Saturday (9 July). A field in excess of 25 cars is anticipated.
Still leading the championship despite their Brands Hatch no-score are United Autosports Audi drivers Matt Bell and Mike Guasch. The Anglo-American duo won at Snetterton and finished on the podium in both of Oulton Park’s April races, but crashed out early on at Brands Hatch.
Californian Guasch knows they have a tough job on their hands to maintain their lead: “Matt and I have got our work cut out because of our lack of experience on the track, but we must get some points back after being bumped out of the Brands race. It’s imperative that we come away with a good points score – we cannot afford another non score.”
Their closest championship challengers are the Geddie father-and-son pairing, Jim and Glynn, who will be driving one of the two CRS Racing-prepared Ferrari 458 Italias; Andrew Tate and Alex Mortimer will be in the other.
The Porsche challenge will be redoubled in Belgium with Richard Westbrook rejoining reigning champion David Ashburn in the #1 Trackspeed 911. They won the opening round together at Oulton and Ashburn, who has failed to score since the Cheshire rounds, needs all the help he can get to put his title defence back on track. The second Trackspeed car will be in the hands of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman, who showed their form with a brilliant win at the Brands Hatch last month ahead of the MTech Ferrari 458 of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin.
Round two victor Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman will be looking for further glory with the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458, as will 2009 champions David and Godfrey Jones with their ever-improving AMG Mercedes. The other marques represented in the 18-strong GT3 field are Aston Martin, with Beechdean pairing Andrew Howard and Jonathan Adam; Corvette, with Speedworks duo Ron Johnson and Piers Johnson; and Ginetta, with up to four G55s, headed by Stark Racing’s Ian Stinton and Michael Simpson.
MTech Ferrari pairing John Dhillon and Aaron Scott will meanwhile be defending their lead in the GT3B class from another MTech duo, Paul Hogarth and James Pickford, while four-time GT Cup class winners Jordan Witt and Anthony Reid will be looking to maintain their 100 per cent record in their Chevron GR8.
As many as seven cars will continue the hotly contested GT4 battle at Spa, with ABG Motorsport KTM duo Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton defending an 18-point lead from Lotus Sport UK men Freddy Nordstrom and Leyton Clarke. Jake Rattenbury and Josh Wakefield, the Oulton Park class winners, will head the Ginetta chargers, and the Secure Racing Aston Martin of Peter Erceg and Chris Holmes will be looking to improve on its encouraging debut performance at Brands.
The British GT Championship is sponsored by UK tyre manufacturer Avon Tyres and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and OAMPS.
Spa-Francorchamps timetable (CET)
Friday 8 July: 0900-1000 & 1200-1300 practice; 1605-1640 qualifying
Saturday 9 July: 0940 Round 5 & 1320 Round 6 (each 60mins)
Channel 4: 0700 16 July; Motors TV UK 2029 16 July + repeats
Provisional championship standings
GT3 & overall
=1 Mike Guasch & Matt Bell / Audi 70.5 points
=3 Glynn & Jim Geddie / Ferrari 63.5
=5 Hector Lester & Allan Simonsen / Ferrari 58.5 etc
=1 John Dhillon & Aaron Scott / Ferrari 81.25
=3 Tom Alexander & Adrian Willmott / Aston Martin 27
=1 Peter Belshaw & Marcus Clutton / KTM 100
=3 Freddy Nordstrom & Leyton Clarke / Lotus 82
=5 Jake Rattenbury & Josh Wakefield / Ginetta 55 etc
=1 Jordan Witt & Anthony Reid / Chevron 62.5
=3 Bjorn & Anders Gustavson / Ginetta 13.5