The 2012 Michelin Ginetta GT Supercup kicks off this weekend with a strong field of up to eighteen Ginetta G55's and G50's set to take to the track for the first three rounds of the season at Brands Hatch.
The series enjoyed a sensational season in 2011, with Adam Morgan emerging from a four way title battle to take the championship and with it a fully funded drive in the BTCC. For 2012, the series has introduced a new specification G55 for the main class, whilst a change to the prize system sees the removal of the BTCC drive for the champion and the introduction of a new money for points system.
Heading into the season as the early championship favourites are two of the frontrunners from last season, Carl Breeze and Tom Sharp. Breeze just missed out on the championship in 2011 and returns this year looking to go position higher with new team Tollbar Racing with WIRED. Sharp meanwhile took nine victories in 2011, more than any other driver, and will be looking to add some consistency to his obvious pace and mount a title challenge with IDL UK.
Front-running team Century Motorsport are back and mounting an expanded three car assault. Returning to the series for his first full season is the quick Fergus Walkinshaw, with the 20 year old being joined by two Supercup newcomers, former British GT drivers Josh Wakefield and Hunter Abbott.
Looking to complete a sensational hat trick of championship titles in 2012 will be Tom Ingram. The 18 year old, who dominated the G50 class of the Supercup last year after winning the Ginetta Juniors the year before, will be running with JHR Developments, alongside former Caterham racer Marcus Hoggarth.
Ingram will be joined in the main class of the Supercup by another G50 frontrunners from 2011, Andrew Richardson. Richardson steps up with family team Richardson Racing after taking four wins on his way to fifth in class last season. Ginetta veteran Colin White returns for another season with CWS Racing in 2012, while Jamie Orton is set for his first full season with Fauldsport, after competing in the final rounds of 2011. Also set to join the grid is 2011 Porsche Carrera Cup GB driver Kieran Vernon, if the former single-seater driver can raise the budget required to do so.
As well as running Richardson in the G55's, Richardson Racing are entering two G50's and lead the entry for the class. The first car will be driven by the reigning Ginetta Challenge champion Mark Davies, with a driver for the second car not yet confirmed.
Challenging the Richardson Racing team will be Redbrick Racing, who are set to run a G50 for Yorkshireman Max Coates. Coates graduates to the Supercup after two years in the Ginetta Junior Championship and joins the series with backing from popular fan membership scheme YourRacingCar.com
Also running G50′s are two more Supercup newcomers, Reece Somerfield and James Owen. Somerfield, who will be running as a privateer, raced in the Caterham Graduates Championship in 2011, while former Ginetta Challenge racer Owen is running with Sherwood Racing. Completing the opening five car entry will be Rob Gaffney with Meridian Motorsport, Gaffney having competed in half of the meetings last year, taking three class podiums.
Joining the grid from Oulton Park onwards will be another Ginetta Junior graduate in the shape of Liverpudlian Declan Jones, who is set to be running a Century Motorsport-prepared G50 alongside a campaign in the French V de V Championship.
The championship is shaping up for another classic season, with strong grids in both the G55 and G50 classes and many more drivers still planning to join the series during the season. You can follow the championship unfolding through the year on TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk, where we'll be covering the series with qualifying and race reports from every round, as well as exclusive interviews and regular blogs from G50 star Max Coates.