Brands Hatch will host the penultimate round of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship with thrilling battles in store in GT3, GT4 and the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy across two hours of race action on August 31.
Thirty-two cars are set to take to the world-famous race destination with a plethora of marques set to do battle on the Grand Prix configuration of the Kent track. The marquees include nine Aston Martins, fives Ginettas, five BMWs, four Ferraris, three Porsches, as well as solitary offerings from the likes of Audi, Bentley, McLaren, Lotus, Nissan, and Toyota will be in action for the final weekend in August.
As befits what is arguably the best national GT championship in the world, there will be familiar faces in new cars, new faces in familiar cars and changes to driver partnerships to add spice to the ultra-competitive series.
Where things currently remain familiar is in the Blancpain standings, with current British GT3 Championship leader Marco Attard leading the way with 141 points to Andrew Howard’s 135.5. The pair are close at the top, but Howard enjoys a strong lead over third placed Jon Minshaw and his 86 points.
There’s much change afoot in GT3 with the Triple Eight ranks swelling to a third BMW Z4 to accommodate Jody Firth and Warren Hughes in what will be the #8 car, whilst in the #88 Lee Mowle will be joined by Ryan Ratcliffe, who replaces former team-mate Luke Hines.
There’s also changes in the garage, with Keith Cheetham, Trackspeed’s Team Manager also joining the Triple Eight team. Cheetham will initially engineer the #8 car, before becoming the team’s GT Team Director, the move reunites this season’s former Trackspeed trio.
The vacated Firth/Hughes Trackspeed Porsche is filled by the exciting combination of Trackspeed founder David Ashburn and Porsche factory driver, Nick Tandy.
Fresh off a podium at Spa, Chris Hoy finds himself with another new team-mate, with 2011 GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough joining the former Olympian in the #80 Nissan Academy RJN Nissan GT-R GT3. He becomes Hoy’s third team-mate of the season, and has British GT experience, having raced in the series back in 2012.
The United Autosports Audi will see Matt Bell joined by John McCullagh, with regular team-mate Mark Patterson unavailable for the Brands Hatch event.
The #29 AF Corse Ferrari will see Matt Griffin make a welcome return to British GT as a stand in for Richard Lyons.
In GT4, Declan Jones will return in the #45 BMW M3 with a revised package including new team-mate Jeff Wyatt with the pairing being run by renowned BMW specialists, Geoff Steel Racing.
With two races remaining, it is the #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 of Marco Attard that leads the GT3 class with 130.5 points, followed closely by team-mate Alexander Sims and his 111.5 points.
The pair have been top for most of this season, having taken high scoring points haul in all rounds except for the first Oulton sprint and the second sprint at Snetterton.
Sims finds himself in second due to being unable to take part at the Snetterton sprints due to other commitments, with Jonny Cocker filling the void and helping Attard to a further 19 points.
Chasing the BMW leaders is last year’s British GT Champion Andrew Howard and team-mate Jonny Adam in the #1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 with 107 points after issues at Spa.
Having started the season with consistency, after an Oulton Park setback, the pair took a minimum of 20 points in the following rounds, but setbacks at Snetterton and Spa prevented the run of points continuing, and leave them with it all to do to retain the title.
The third car in the title race is the fellow Aston Martin of the Oman Racing Team, with Michael Caine and Ahmad Al Harthy taking 93 points in their #4 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, with victories at Silverstone and Snetterton propelling them into contention.
Aston Martins also make their presence known in the GT4 title race, with the Beechdean AMR sister car, the #407 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings residing top of the standings with 155 points.
In second, the TF Sport #49 Aston Martin GT4 Challenge makes it an Aston 1-2 with Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell taking 136 points so far this season.
The top two have been neck and neck for most of this campaign, with victory at Spa for Wylie and Giddings helping stretch their lead ahead of Jarman and Modell, who endured a tough weekend.
Rounding off the top three in the GT4 title race is the #46 G55 Ginetta GT4 of Adrian Barwick and Bradley Ellis with 108.5 points.
The pair have been able to mount a challenge due to their remarkable consistency. After not finishing in the season opener at Oulton Park, the pair have scored points in all seven races since.
Action begins at Brands Hatch on the 30th of August, with the first practice session at 10:00, before a second at 12:20 ahead of two qualifying sessions at 16:15 and 16:35.
The following day sees a short warm up at 10:00, before the race begins at 13:10.
Avon Tyres Motorsport General Manager, Paul Coates
“Most drivers would name Brands Hatch as being among their favourite tracks in the UK, with its fast configuration and long sweeping corners. However, overtaking at this circuit can be difficult and this is where the challenge comes in for the British GT grid, as competitor numbers are greater in this championship than in British F3, making it even harder. In terms of looking after their tyres, the drivers need to take into consideration heavy braking zones, the prime example of which is at Druids.”
Jonny Adam, #1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3
It’s one of my favourite circuits in the UK. On paper it’s the strongest circuit for the Aston as well. The GP section of the lap is great fun and rewarding when on the limit! In 2012 we had a grand stand finish against the RJN Nissan, the closest finish in BGT history and last year we took victory. We are aiming for a great result this year.
Michael Caine, #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Brands GP is one of the best circuits in the UK and it’s a pleasure to race in Motorbase’s back garden! Brands has always been interesting in GT’s. In 2012 we had an incident and then in 2013 we had a fire that caused the car to melt giving me carbon poisoning! The season has had its normal up and downs but Ahmad has shown great improvement in the car. The Aston’s a great car to race and Motorbase have done an amazing job in running the car for the first year.
Matt Bell, #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra
Brands Hatch is one of the iconic British circuits, it’s old school with the big elevation changes, blind corners and limited run off. All that makes it a big challenge to drive on, and a big mistake to go off! Our experience here is mixed. Two years ago we suffered a puncture which ruined a potentially good result, and 6th last year was a good comeback from starting 12th but we should’ve had more. Hopefully we can improve our record there!
John McCullagh, #23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra
I’ve only ever driven the Indy circuit at Brands Hatch and have had some good experiences. I enjoy the technical nature of it and from a spectator perspective it’s a great circuit to visit as you can see so much. I’ve not driven the GP circuit before but it certainly looks like an exciting prospect. There is a really good combination of technical turns, with high speed straights and corners, it’s certainly not a track for the faint hearted!
Nick Tandy, #31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R
This year my track time at Brands hasn’t been so good. I was scheduled to drive a one-off in the Blancpain Endurance Spring Series in May with Farnbacher Porsche. We didn’t get very far though because the car was damaged in free practice! I didn’t even get to race, which was a bit of a shame. It does however mean that I’ve already done some laps this year in a similar car around Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit.
Aleksander Schjerpen, #43 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4
I have only been at the track once before, testing in Formula Renault 2.0. We were only driving on the Indy circuit, so the GP spec should be new to me, but exciting. The GP circuit looks really cool. I have been watching a lot of YouTube clips from races in the past, and it looks really demanding and some of the corners seems harder than they appear. I can’t wait to go there and try it together with Morten (Dons) and Century Motorsport guys.
Morten Dons, #43 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4
Like the most circuits this season, Brands Hatch will be a new track for me. I’ve only done a little simulator training, but that never gives you the real feeling, especially on a circuit like Brands, because you can’t feel the big level changes and G-force in a simulator. From the look of it, I think it is real challenge. You have so much ups and downs round the track and some very fast blind corners. I thinks that you can gain a lot and be really fast if you get comfortable with the circuit and your car.
Dan Cammish, #44 Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT4
I really like Brands Hatch in general. Both the Indy and the GP circuits bring unique challenges. The GP circuit for me has to be one of the best driver’s tracks in the Country. It’s a track where a driver can really make a difference. I love the undulation and the fast corners out the back of the circuit. That’s where you will see the difference between the drivers.
Paul McNeilly, #48 Fox Motorsport / Paul McNeilly G55 Ginetta GT4
Brands is my home track and it’s always a privilege to race on the GP circuit. It’s an awesome circuit, definitely one of my favourites. The GP circuit remains un-changed for a number of years now, which is rare when you see what’s happening to a lot of other circuits where massive run-off areas have been introduced. It’s a rewarding circuit to drive.
Devon Modell, #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge
I’ve driven around the Grand Prix circuit in a GT4 car earlier this year, but as it was a track day it was hard to get a clean run and the session wasn’t a clear representative of our pace. Driving the Aston Martin will be totally different, but I’m excited by the challenge. As Brands Hatch is a notoriously fast circuit, I believe the Aston Martin will perform really well, especially round the back part of the circuit, as you it plays into the hands of our cars speed strengths. Your home race is always special, as you can’t beat getting up in your own bed and making your way into the circuit can you. I have some friends coming down to support me, and depending on the weather, it should be a really good weekend. There is always a great spectator presence, which gives you that boost come race day.
Gavan Kershaw, #77 ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4
Brands Hatch is a great Circuit, it has a nice arena feel for spectators, and the GP loop is very fast and enjoyable. Oz (Yusuf) has limited experience around the GP circuit and this will be his first race on it. With the very limited availability to test on the GP he has to learn fast and get on that simulator!
Alexander Sims, #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3
I’ve only really done a handful of laps around Brands Hatch in a Radical. From what I can remember it is a pretty awesome track that is rather old school in that it has fast, ballsy corners with no run off.
# Team / Entrant Car Driver Driver Class
1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Andrew Howard Jonny Adam GT3
3 Rosso Verde / Hector Lester Ferrari 458 Italia Hector Lester Benny Simonsen GT3
4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Ahmad Al Harthy Michael Caine (+75) GT3
5 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Jeff Smith Rory Butcher GT3
6 PGF – Kinfaun AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Phil Dryburgh John Gaw GT3
8 Triple 8 BMW Z4 GT3 Jody Firth Warren Hughes (+75) GT3
13 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia John Dhillon Aaron Scott GT3
17 M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 Humaid Al Masaoud Steven Kane GT3
18 FF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia Gary Eastwood Adam Carroll (+10) GT3
21 Strata 21 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Paul White Tom Onslow-Cole GT3
22 Preci -Spark McLaren MP4 12C David Jones Godfrey Jones GT3
23 United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra John McCullagh Matt Bell GT3
28 HorsePower Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Paul Bailey Andy Schulz GT3
29 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia Pasin Lathouras Matt Griffin (+75) GT3
31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R David Ashburn Nick Tandy (+10) GT3
40 MP Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Colin White Tom Sharp GT3
63 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R Jon Minshaw Phil Keen GT3
79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 Marco Attard Alexander Sims (+10) GT3
80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3 Chris Hoy Jann Mardenborough GT3
88 Triple 8 BMW Z4 GT3 Lee Mowle Ryan Ratcliffe GT3
888 Triple 8 BMW Z4 GT3 Derek Johnston Joe Osborne GT3
42 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 Rick Parfitt Tom Oliphant GT4
43 Century Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 Aleksander Schjerpen Morten Dons (+30) GT4
44 Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT4 Barrie Baxter Dan Cammish GT4
45 Geoff Steel / Declan Jones BMW M3 GT4 Jeff Wyatt Declan Jones GT4
46 Twisted Team Parker G55 Ginetta GT4 Adrian Barwick Bradley Ellis GT4
48 Fox Motorsport / Paul McNeilly G55 Ginetta GT4 Paul McNeilly Jamie Stanley GT4
49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 Challenge Andrew Jarman Devon Modell (+30) GT4
55 Academy Motorsport G55 Ginetta GT4 Oli Basey-Fisher Matt Nicoll-Jones (+30) GT4
77 ISSY Racing / Oz Yuzuf Lotus Evora GT4 Oz Yusuf Gavan Kershaw GT4
407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin GT4 Challenge Ross Wylie Jake Giddings (+30) GT4
86 GPRM Toyota G86 James Fletcher Stefan Hodgetts INV.