A field of over 30 top GT cars will do battle in the final race of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship this weekend (05-06/10) at the Donington Park GP circuit in Leicestershire. All eyes will be on the title-contenders in both GT3 and GT4 as drivers fight for the overall honour of 2013 Champion, as well as a prized win at the former F1 circuit.
New to the series this weekend are Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox in the Predator CCTV-AMR Aston Martin, making it four GT3 V12 Vantages on the grid on Sunday, a first for the top British sportscar marque. Due to Burton and Wilcox having already raced in British GT in 2013 (at the Silverstone round in the Mtech Ferrari 458 Italia), the pair are eligible to contest for points.
Joining the GT3 battle this weekend are Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings in a Ferrari 458 GT3. The pair have campaigned a FF Corse GTC 458 at select events this year, but have switched to GT3 machinery and the AF Corse team for the final race of the year. The Ferrari pairing will score points this weekend should they finish in the top ten.
The GT4 class ranks swell to eight for the final round as interest in the class grows ahead of the 2014 season. A pair of Aston Martin GT4 Vantages will take to the track at Donington as Complete Racing return to the series after missing the Dutch round, and 21 year-old single-seater star, Kiwi, Richie Stanaway and British up-and-comer Harry Whale pair up for a one-off race in an Aston entered under the Aston Martin Racing banner.
The Twisted Team Parker Racing Ginetta G50 is a serious contender for an outright class win this weekend too. The team pack the might of 2006 British GT Champion Bradley Ellis into a car engineered by one of the most experienced teams in Porsche Carrera Cup GB, along with a handy new driver, Adrian Barwick.
Neither the Stanaway/Whale Aston or the Ellis/Barwick Ginetta will be eligible to score points at Donington.
Making a welcome return to British GT this weekend are the Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Mark Poole and Richard Abra, and the Von Ryan Racing McLaren MP4-12c of Duncan Tappy and Gregoire Demoustier.
Elsewhere, David and Godfrey Jones, the 2009 British GT Champions are back with Preci-Spark, but not with their McLaren. The Jones brothers have opted for the heavyweight might of their Blancpain Endurance Series challenger, the Mercedes AMG SLS GT3.
Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz, British GT debutants in Holland are back for more with their Horse Power Racing prepared Ferrari 458 GTC. The pair continue to evaluate their options for 2014 after an impressive weekend at Zandvoort.
For those fans unable to make it to the 2.498 miles GP circuit on Sunday, British GT will feature on top Motorsport TV network, Motors TV with LIVE TV coverage of the two-hour final race, the third time this year that series promoter SRO Motorsports Group has secured such a deal.
The title contenders.
The past two seasons of racing have seen the top national GT series go down to the last race of the year, but the 2013 season has more been unpredictable than ever and with far more emphasis on consistency than in any year before it. Just 21 points separate ten drivers at the top of the standings, and with 37.5 points on offer at Donington, the weekend is set up for a thrilling, impossible to predict finale.
Ten and a half points cover the top five drivers in the championship, highlighting the competitiveness of British GT further. Andrew Howard is the man leading the way, the Beechdean-AMR driver has been the model of consistency this year scoring in every race bar the first two at Oulton Park where the #007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage was a victim of fellow competitors over exuberance.
Howard’s co-driver Jonny Adam is unable to win the title with Howard, following a points deduction for an incident at Snetterton. This means that the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 of Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard is Howard’s nearest competitor, just half a point adrift of the Aston man. Bryant and Barwell have enabled Attard to develop at a rapid rate and he is now arguably one of the quickest and most reliable racers amongst the gentleman racers.
Reigning Champion Michael Caine could be the first ever repeat winner of the British GT title. The Oman Air Motorbase Porsche he shares with Ahmad Al Harthy has been the only car to finish every race in the points and following two wins this season, a feat Caine was unable to achieve last year on the way to the title with Daniele Perfetti, the pair remain very much in the hunt for the title.
The 2010 British GT Champion David Ashburn took himself out of contention for the series when he was deducted points for his Brands Hatch pit stop error, but team-mate Nick Tandy is still able to challenge for the title. Interestingly the pair have only finished and won when Porsche factory driver Tandy has started the race; Tandy is four points adrift of Caine and Al Harthy with 93 points.
Despite a mixed weekend last time out in Zandvoort, a third podium in race one and a collision with a GT4 car in the second race, Dan Brown and Steve Tandy are very much in title contention at Donington. The 888Optimum drivers will need other results to go their way though and they currently sit 21 points adrift of Howard, tied on points with Matt Bell and Mark Patterson.
The United Autosports pair of Bell and Patterson had a weekend to forget in Holland through no fault of their own. This means their Audi R8 LMS ultra arrives at Donington requiring some misfortune to land at their rivals garage doors instead of their own, but mathematically Bell and Patterson still have a chance of winning the title.
In the GT4 class that runs alongside the overall GT3 battle things are equally wide open as we approach this the final race, 28 points separate eight drivers.
The Zandvoort round just under a month ago saw what had been a friendly fight between the two Ginetta G50 crews of Optimum Motorsport and Century Motorsport intensify. However, Rick Parfitt Jnr and Ryan Ratcliffe still lead the class by 13.5 points from Century’s rapid teenager, Declan Jones.
Also in the title mix, due in part to events at the Dutch circuit, are Dan Eagling and Matt Smith. The Redgate Lifetime Racing team pair are 22 points off the lead of the class.
Victors in the second race in Holland were the recently formed Blendini/Triple R team. Young Scot, Rory Bryant, no relation to Ecurie Ecosse’s Olly, excelled at Zandvoort and Bryant has his regular driving cohort Anthony Rodgers alongside him for the Donington finale, after friend of the team David Barker, stepped in when Rodgers was unable to compete last time out.
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship arrives at Leicestershire’s Donington Park GP circuit for the final round of the 2013 season next weekend. Two 60-minute free practice sessions start the weekend (09:35 and 11:40 BST) before qualifying begins at 15:45 BST later on Saturday afternoon. A ten-minute warm-up first thing on Sunday will give drivers an opportunity to shake down their cars before the main race, a two-hour winner-takes-all thriller starting at 13:15. Race coverage will be broadcast LIVE in its entirety via leading digital sports TV network, Motors TV.
Avon Tyres British GT Championship: Round #7 of 7 – Donington
Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th October, 2013
Donington Park GP Circuit, Castle Donington, Derby, Leicestershire
2.498 mile / 12-turn race circuit
Race Duration: 1 x 120 minutes
British GT TV Broadcast (All times local to broadcaster):
LIVE TV: Motors TV: 13:05 BST / 14:05 CET
Highlights Channel 4: Highlights, Saturday October 12th, 07:00
Motors TV: Highlights, Tuesday October 8th, 22:30
More listings here: http://www.britishgt.com/television.php
Championship points after round 6 of 7:
Full standings after round 6 of 7: http://ow.ly/m5iU1
Blancpain Gentleman Driver Championship after round 6 of 7:
Full BGDT standings after round 6 of 7: http://ow.ly/m5iU1