Two new faces will be on the Avon Tyres British GT Championship grid at Silverstone this weekend following Von Ryan Racing’s decision to draft Gilles Vannelet and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs into its #12 McLaren 650S GT3.
Former FIA GT3 European champion Vannelet is making his first British GT appearance since 2006. The Frenchman has a busy weekend in store thanks to Le Mans Test Day commitments that see him travel to Circuit de la Sarthe after Saturday’s qualifying session before hot-footing it back to Silverstone in time for Sunday’s race at 12:20.
Alongside him is 2012 AutoGP champion and GP2/3 race winner, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, who made the switch from single-seaters to GT cars at the start of this season as part of Von Ryan Racing’s Blancpain Endurance Series squad. The 24-year-old becomes the third Quaife to compete in British GT following the exploits of cousin Phil and uncle Mike.
And having seen his Blancpain Endurance Series team-mates give the new McLaren its first victory at last weekend’s round after his own podium hopes were dashed by another driver, Quaife-Hobbs is hoping for a strong showing.
“We were going really well at the Blancpain round and looked good for a podium before being taken out,” he said. “The fact we’d got into that position after making up 30-odd places suggests the McLaren will be a strong contender this weekend. I’ve never driven on the Avon tyres before but the team isn’t expecting much difference anyway. I guess the biggest change for me will be racing in a Pro-Am crew, but Gilles has a lot of experience. I guess it’s interesting that he’ll be flying back from Le Mans that same morning but he wouldn’t be doing so unless he was confident of it not impacting on Sunday’s race.”
Team principal Dave Ryan is also eager to turn a corner at Silverstone after a tough start to the squad’s British GT campaign.
“People forget we were quick at Oulton and running second in the opening race, but I guess you could say we’ve been the victim of circumstance since then.” he said. “What’s happened has happened and we’re approaching this weekend with renewed optimism off the back of winning last Sunday’s Blancpain round, even though we’ll be tackling a different set of circumstances. The car’s good and has been since the start of the year, but there are a lot of very good teams and drivers competing in British GT. As always we’ll do the best we can.
“Adrian was an obvious choice to slot in the McLaren this weekend. I’ve also worked with Gilles on a couple of previous occasions at Abu Dhabi and in French GT. He knows the team and is very capable.”
Vannelet and Quaife-Hobbs replace Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey, while the team’s #10 machine remains in the hands of McLaren Young Driver Programme members Ross Wylie and Andrew Watson.
Elsewhere on the grid, former Super GT champion Richard Lyons deputises for Le Mans Test Day-bound Adam Carroll at FF Corse, while two new entries from Trackspeed (Porsche) and Team Parker Racing (Audi) have contributed towards an 18-strong GT3 entry list.
Equally, the additional PMW Expo/Optimum Motorsport-run Ginetta G55 of Alistair Barclay and Charlie Hollings see a total of 17 GT4s making the trip to Silverstone.