London, England (29 April 2013) – The month of May features two rounds of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and it all kicks off this Bank Holiday weekend (Sun 5th/Mon 6th) at the super Rockingham Speedway where over 60 of the UK’s finest sports car drivers are preparing to do battle in the second round of the season in their incredible Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Ferrari, Ginetta, McLaren, Mercedes, and Porsche supercars.
A two-hour endurance race is scheduled for the Northamptonshire circuit on Monday 6th May, race three of the ten race series and a field of in excess of 30 cars is expected to line up on the famous banked grid.
With the opening round at Oulton Park complete, 2010 Champion David Ashburn and Porsche factory driver Nick Tandy head the standings by eighteen points from Trackspeed team-mates Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen; the Trackspeed cars taking a win apiece between them at the Cheshire circuit.
Behind them there is a frenzy of drivers who could all win at Rockingham and shake up the order; Marco Attard and Oliver Bryant (Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3), Mark Patterson and Matt Bell (United Autosports Audi R8 LMS ultra), Jason Minshaw and Benji Hetherington (Fortec Mercedes SLS AMG GT3), and reigning champion, Michael Caine and British GT new boy Ahmad Al Harthy (Motorbase Porsche 997 GT3 R).
Rockingham hosts the first two-hour race of the British GT calendar this year after the two 60-minute sprint races at Oulton Park and the longer races typically allow drivers with more of an endurance background to show their hand.
Other GT3 contenders looking to get their season going include the United Autosports McLarens of former F1 star, Mark Blundell and Jody Firth, and Zak Brown and Alvaro Parente.
Rockingham will be the first British GT race this year for Blundell, Firth, and Parente. Blundell sat out Oulton Park after his co-driver that weekend, Roger Wills had an off in qualifying that damaged the car significantly, and Firth was recently announced as the second driver for the year in the #24 McLaren MP4-12c. Parente will link-up with Brown after sitting out round one due to a clash with the FIA GT Series Paul Ricard round where he was driving with nine-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb.
Von Ryan Racing joins the 2013 British GT season at Rockingham and will contest all of the remaining rounds bar Zandvoort due to a calendar clash for its drivers Greg Demoustier (Silver) and Duncan Tappy (Gold). Both drivers are familiar with the McLaren MP4-12c, but the team hasn’t ever raced at the Corby circuit, nor has Demoustier.
Fortec Motorsports will continue with a two-car British GT team, but have shuffled drivers so that the #14 Mercedes SLS AMG will feature Jason Minshaw and Benji Hetherington, and the #15 car welcomes Fortec single-seater pro Oli Webb, with 52-year-old Paraguayan racer, Danny Candia alongside him.
Ferrari will be strongly represented this weekend by top UK squads Mtech and FF Corse, returning top team Balfe Motorsport and by International giants Vita4One Team Italy and AF Corse. Top Ferrari finishers at Oulton Park, Rosso Verde will not be present this weekend due to both drivers having commitments elsewhere.
Expect a fearsome battle in the GT4 class this weekend as the four Ginetta entries seek to keep the menacing threat of the Complete Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GT4 at bay.
The GT4 class, currently led by Century Motorsports duo Zoe Wenham and Declan Jones will look to extend their fourteen point lead over Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr, but the Optimum Motorsport pair are keen to get on the top step of the GT4 podium this weekend after taking a handsome pair of second place finishes a month ago at round one.
Looking to get their first points in 2013 will be Tom Wilson and Steve Chaplin. The Complete Racing pair had a tough time at Oulton Park and will look for a better result in the longer format race. Redgate Lifetime Racing are back after an accident at Oulton in qualifying put pay to their chances of taking any points. Drivers Matt Smith and Dan Eagling are ready to bounce back and showed enough pace to convince many that they can challenge for the win this weekend.
Action begins at Rockingham on Sunday (5th May) at 10am with free practice 1, quickly followed by free practice 2 at 12:25pm. Qualifying takes place on Sunday afternoon between 4:20pm and 4:50pm. After a brief morning warm-up on Monday (6th May) at 10:30am, the two-hour race will get underway at 1:05pm.
Nick Tandy, Driver, Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R:
“I’m pretty confident about this weekend at Rockingham. Trackspeed have tested there before and have an idea of base setup, which is a plus; David has always gone well at Rockingham too and has managed to pick up points at most visits there. I also think the new Porsche will be a lot better suited to the infield section this year rather than the fast banked section; the new aero on the Porsche will be a real boost. Rockingham is a local circuit for me and one that suits my driving style a lot and its one of the reasons why I was pushing David to race again, we had so much fun at Oulton it made sense to go for it again.”
Declan Jones, Driver, Century Motorsports Ginetta G50:
“I’m looking forward to the weekend. It’s a lot different to other circuits but I’ve driven there twice before, and it isn’t the longest race I’ve been involved in either so I’m feeling pretty happy about it all. I know I’ve got to look after the car, but drive as quick as possible and Zoe and I obviously want to come away with pole and a win; I think we’re good enough to do that.”
Dave Ryan, Team Manager, Von Ryan Racing:
“We’re on the back foot big time. We’ve never been to Rockingham as a team, but we’ve driven past it though; that’s all part of the fun. Duncan knows the circuit and has raced and tested here before, but Greg hasn’t been here before and needs to get familiar with it. From what we know it is a tough track, very hard on tyres. The team will only meet each other properly when they get to the track too, so we’ve got our eyes open to what kind of challenge it will be. I’ve heard great things about British GT, it sounds like a neat championship, and we’re going to go out to do as well as we can this weekend.”