This weekend the new Snetterton 300 layout will play host to its first major race event, as the Avon Tyres British GT Championship forms part of a weekend that should introduce the largest crowds yet to the revamped Norfolk venue.
A new infield section – completed over the winter – had added a mile and five corners to the track, and while several club and test events have already christened the new layout this weekend will be the first time a national level series will run on the track.
After the pair of hour long races that kicked off the GT season at Oulton Park on Easter Monday, they will take to Snetterton for a single 120 minute encounter with refuelling stops putting adding a new dimension to the racing.
The stellar field from Oulton Park will reassemble at the former airfield track. Scuderia Vittoria – winners of the second Oulton race – will be hoping to repeat the obvious pace driver Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman displayed. After starting his title defence with a win at Oulton Park with co-driver Richard Westbrook reigning champion David Ashburn will team up with Phil Keen in the no.1 Trackspeed Porsche this weekend.
The race will be Keen's first British GT outing in two years (he was last seen in a KTM X-Bow). However, in the intervening seasons Keen has accrued starts with Trackspeed in the FIA GT3 European Championship and only last weekend started the Le Mans Series season at Spa-Francorchamps.
Briton Matt Bell and Michael Guasch were the only pairing to finish on the podium in both races at Oulton Park. Their United Autosports team – fresh from a pair of points finishes in this year's FIA GT3 opener – will return to British soil to make their Snetterton debut, the learning curve ahead of the team perhaps curbed slightly as every team will start the weekend having to learn the new track.
Also returning from European duties are Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin, their F458 Italia still one of only two on the grid as rivals CRS Racing are forced to delay the debut of their own new cars further – staying with the old F430 Scuderia for another event.
The only new addiction to the field comes in the form of a second Aston Martin, this one for Tom Black and Stuart Hall from Vantage Racing. It will join Beechdean Motorsport's example, Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam hoping for second podium of the year after their race one third place last month.
The GT4 will include some local interest thanks to the pair of red and gold Lotus Evora with a driving quartet including Lotus Cars engineer Ollie Jackson, who lives in nearby Attleborough.
“I can't wait to get out there on it,” he said. “I was always a huge fan of the old Snetterton and the feedback I have been getting from people who have raced the new layout is all positive, and of course it is always nice to be racing close to home.”
“We had a tough weekend at Oulton Park battling some problems which would have been sorted earlier had we had the luxury of more testing time, but I was amazed at how professional the team was in coping with those issues and I think we should have them sorted now. Not having tested the Lotus at Snetterton may be a small handicap for us, but we know where we are going with the set-up of the Evora and I am sure we will be on the pace.”
The small but competitive GT4 class is completed by Leyton Clarke and Freddy Nordstrom in the other Lotus Sport UK run car. There are Ginetta G50s – one apiece from Scuderia Vittoria and Century Motorsport and two KTM X-Bows which had an action packed Oulton weekend. Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw won race one before crashing at turn one in the second race. Teammates Michael Mallock and Athanasios Ladas began the weekend with technical maladies, but ended with two strong race performances.