A mouth-watering 31 car grid is set to take the start of the three hour headliner to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship this weekend.
The Silverstone race, the penultimate round of the 2012 season, could prove pivotal in deciding the destination of the title with a maximum of 37.5 points on offer for the race win due to the extra points for the year’s longer races.
The top three teams in the championship will arrive at Silverstone split by just two after all suffered a tricky weekend at the previous meeting at Snetterton. 2010 champion David Ashburn leads the way, the Trackspeed figurehead partnered in the Porsche by Phil Keen with Snetterton co-driver Richard Westbrook stateside once again of Rolex Series duty at Laguna Seca.
MTECH pairing Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron are his nearest challengers just a half point behind, with RJN Motorsport drivers Alex Buncombe and Jann Mardenborough now just two points behind after Mardenborough charged to third place in the second race at Snetterton last month.
However, with extra points on offer at both Silverstone and the Donington Park finale (September 29-30) a total of seven different teams could propel a driver to the 2012 title given the right results, but with Ecurie Ecosse’s Alasdair McCaig, the best placed man outside the top three, nearly 20 points in arrears to Ashburn only a DNF, or other disaster, for the top three will open the door sufficiently for a late break from the championship pelaton.
Running interference in the championship are a number of teams and drivers returning to the grid, or teams choosing the Silverstone Grand Prix track to host their seasonal debuts.
After driving with British GT regulars Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard at the Spa 24 Hours in July, Aston Martin Racing MD John Gaw and his long time GT racing teammate Phil Dryburgh, will drive a second GT3 Vantage under the Cyber Racing banner. The pair have raced extensively together, including as part of the winning team at the 2010 Britcar 24 Hours as well as occasional British GT rounds, the most recent at the 2010 openers at Oulton Park in the GTC class Porsche.
However, undeniably those in the latter group are headed by reigning champions Jim and Glynn Geddie adding their Apex Motorsport run McLaren MP4-12C to the grid at the track where the father and son team secured the title nearly twelve months ago. Their arrival coming just a round after the GT3 McLaren won on its full debut at Snetterton, the Scottish pairing could spring a surprise this weekend.
The McLaren’s predecessor in the United Autosports garage is also returning to the British GT grid, Nigel Mustill and experienced sportscar pilot Bob Berridge racing Mustill’s ex-UA Audi R8 LMS in British GT for the first time after prior running in both Britcar and GT Cup competition.
Also moving into British GT for the first time this year after racing success in other series is the Team LNT Ginetta G55. Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson and Mike Simpson – twice Britcar winners already this year – will share the orange machine, one of four of Ginetta’s GT3 challenger on the grid with Stark Racing by Hepworth, Optimum Motorsport and Team WFR also on the grid, Optimum and Team WFR after skipping the Snetterton weekend.
Jones twins Godfrey and David bring their Mercedes SLS back to the championship after they too opted not to travel to Snetterton.
Two teams that did race at Snetterton return for Silverstone with the Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini once more racing, Marco Attard reunited with Marcel Leipert. Doubling their effort after Snetterton are FF Corse. Ryan Hooker and Gary Eastwood will run their GTC class Ferrari 458 again with a GT3 class Ferrari 430 for Austrian drivers Gerard Grohmann and Thomas Kemenater added to their stable.
The Checkered Flag will have live coverage of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship with qualifying at 4:35pm on Saturday, the race starting at 11:40am on Sunday.