Ever since Oliver Basey-Fisher wrapped up the 2013 Ginetta GT5 Challenge title during a tense finale weekend at Donington Park in October, all attention in the Challenge paddock has turned to getting drivers in cars for the 2014 campaign, which kicks off at Oulton Park on Easter Weekend.
Academy Motorsport, the team that guided Basey-Fisher to the title, have so far announced two drivers for the upcoming campaign, Dr Barbara Kubicka and Chris Webster. Polish-born Kubicka, an aesthetic medicine physician by day, returns for a second season having finished fifteenth overall last year.
Webster meanwhile joins the series for the first time with plenty of Ginetta and sportscar experience under his belt, having previously raced a G50, a G55 and last season a G40 in the Britcar Production Cup.
“We are delighted that Barbara is returning to the Academy Motorsport race centre in 2014. With a full season of experience under her belt, she should be able to consistently challenge for good result,” said team principal Matt Nicoll-Jones.
“We are really excited to see Chris progress into the Ginetta GT5 Challenge, the championship will provide him with everything required to not only progress as a driver but also an enjoyable environment to spread his wings,” he added.
Experienced Ginetta Challenge competitor Gary Simms is back this season, the 27 year old having combined a team driver coach role for Reflex Racing with a part-campaign in the G20 class last year. Simms will race in the G40 category with newly formed outfit Buddy Racing this season.
Joining Simms at the BuddyLoans.com-backed team is Nick Zapolski, a driver Simms coached at Reflex last season. The 31 year old took eleven top five finishes, including six podiums, in the G20 class in 2013, and will now step up to the main G40 class for the first time.
“I struck up a great relationship with Nick last year; I really enjoy going racing with him and coaching him throughout the weekend,” said Simms. “He’s coming on really well as a driver, and I’m confident that after a good pre season testing programme we’ll have two cars at the sharp end of the pack!”
An exciting development for 2014 is an extended partnership between Ginetta and the Easykart UK and Formula KGP S1 karting championships, aimed at helping bring talented karters into car-racing. The first beneficiary of the enterprise is world champion karter Luca Hirst, who will make his car-racing debut this season.
“My goal is to finish all the races I start and gain as much experience as I possibly can, as it is my first year in sports cars I expect to be off the pace to start with but I hope to improve as the season progresses,” commented Hirst.
Joining Hirst on the grid as a Ginetta Challenge newcomer is Scotsman Vic Covey, who joins the series with his own Covey Agency Racing team. Covey finished in the top five of the Celtic Speed Scottish Mini Cooper Cup last season, a series he won back in 2008.
“I am focused on enjoying the racing whilst competing at the sharp end of the field,” Covey commented. “Whilst I am seeing this year as a ‘learning year’, I would hope to secure some podium finishes before the season is out.”
G20 class front-runners Tolman Motorsport are returning once again meanwhile, with David Pattison and Alex Preston their first confirmed G20 drivers. Pattison made his car-racing debut in the series last season, taking a podium finish in his second ever race en-route to a top five championship finish, while Preston joins the series from the Mazda MX5 MK1 Championship.