Ginetta confirmed in the final months of last year that they would be entering a works supported team in the GT3 class of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship with their Ginetta G55 GT3 – currently the top of the range in terms of the racing machinery available from the company.
With Lawrence Tomlinson and Richard Sykes confirmed as the first driver pairing for the team the squad, Tomlinson, also the Ginetta chairmain explains to www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk, is a progression from the limited racing he and Mike Simpson did with the GT3 car last season to leading the marque – and the model – in GT racing.
“One of the reasons we’re running the works backed team is that it will be seen as the development of the car,” he says. “Mike and I did a lot of development work last year and we’re continuing over the winter and it’s now really more about honing and improving the reliability which we’ve already done and proven last year and I’m really excited about.”
2012 was the second season of running the G55 in GT3 configuration, and the first after a comprehensive overhaul that on the surface was headlined by a new aerodynamic package and under the bonnet featured a V8 engine built in house at Ginetta for the first time.
However, while the first teams to take on the revamped car frequently showed good pace over a single lap reliability issues struck too often during the races. It’s those reliability issues that seem to have played a key role in bringing the team out for the full season in what is becoming one of the hardest fought championships in the UK – if not GT racing.
“We sold cars to teams last year but they had a number of reliability issues, which we tried to work through with them during 2012,” Tomlinson admits. “We then decided to see what the issues with the car were ourselves to we took out own car out with myself driving with Mike Simpson and the factory really in the background and we had three wins, a fourth in British GT, and eighth in British GT and a third in class in the Britcar 24 Hours, finishing every race. We made some changes to that and towards the back end of 2012 our car ran absolutely perfectly well with 100% reliability.”
Naturally, with the development work continuing over the winter we ask whether the car that starts the Easter Weekend meeting at Oulton Park will be vastly different from the car in which Simpson and Tomlinson ended the 2012 season.
“No, this year’s car is very much like the one that finished last season,” Tomlinson says, before going on to list some seemingly major changes. “We’ve moved to an Xtrac diff which was one of the major problems with the car for the teams in 2012. We’ve looked at that, we’re moving to paddle shift. The car’s got ABS and traction control which we didn’t have last year. There’s also some small modifications to the engine, plus one major one that we’ve developed our own new crankshaft.”
“The new crankshaft has accidentally given us an extra 35 horsepower which we were very surprised about because we were only looking to reduce engine vibration and crankshaft failures.”
Ginetta’s customer teams from 2012 will go in separate directions for 2013, Optimum Motorsport have joined with Triple Eight Race Engineering to run a pair of BMW Z4 GT3. Team WFR have opted to pull out of racing despite Warren Hughes and Jody Fannin dominating the GT4 category in a Ginetta G50 – the car that has become the standard for the class winning in the UK in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012 (“we had a cock-up in 2011,” Tomlinson addresses the missing year.)
However, there is likely to be at least a trio of Ginetta G55 GT3 on the grid, IDL Racing with CWS – whom Tomlinson describes as a “satellite team” – announcing their entry staffed by GT Supercup drivers Tom Sharp and Colin White and Tomlinson insists there will be a second works car alongside his and Sykes’, though with drivers currently unnamed.
In a category – and a championship – that has exploded in recent seasons it will they who have to prove that the off-season work on reliability can turn the G55 into a race winning contender proudly flying the flag for British engineering, with Aston Martin, in the British championship against the, arguably, more established GT racing names of Ferrari, Porsche, BMW and Lamborghini.