Ryan Ratcliffe will make a one-off return to the GT4 class of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship this weekend, replacing Tania Mann in Optimum Motorsport’s Ginetta G55 GT4. He will partner Matt Draper for the weekend.
Ratcliffe won the class championship last season with the team driving alongside Rick Parfitt Jr., who will be one his rivals in Sunday’s three hour Silverstone 500 race on the Northamptonshire track’s Grand Prix track.
“It’s going to be exciting to get back into GT4 again,” said Ratcliffe. “The opportunity arose after Tania pulled out and Shaun [Goff] at Optimum called and asked if I’d come along and help Matt out for this race. It’s just a one-off appearance as I have my Triple Eight Race Engineering (TEDD) programme to focus on too. But, I know the Optimum boys really well after a great championship-winning season last year and I couldn’t really refuse a request from Shaun or a drive at Silverstone in a three-hour race.”
Goff adds; “Ryan’s a top lad and when we needed a driver for Silverstone, I knew who I wanted in the car with Matt. He’s been driving the GT3 BMW, which is obviously quite different to the Ginetta, but Ryan is every inch the professional so he’ll cope with the change fine. The boys in the team enjoy having him in the team and over the course of the past few years we’ve had some really good weekends together. Hopefully we can find a more long-term partner for Matt, but right now we’re just keen to make the most of the Silverstone event and welcome Ryan back to the team.”
Ratcliffe and Parfitt Jr. ended last year’s British GT race at Silverstone taking their first win of the season, the first of three consecutive victories that put them into a championship winning position to start the second half of the campaign. However, Ratcliffe is remaining realistic about his expectations for this coming weekend.
“I don’t have any illusions of grandeur about coming in and winning;” he admitted. “GT4 is super competitive and it’ll be great to help Matt get some more points in the bag.”
Draper lies seventh in the class points’ championship with a best finish of fourth coming in the season opener at Oulton Park.
The news comes after Ratcliffe made his GT3 race debut as part of his TEDD program. The Welshman won on his debut in Triple Eight’s BMW Z4 GT3 in the GT Cup at Brands Hatch before enduring a difficult weekend with the team’s entry in the Blancpain Endurance Series last weekend.
Ratcliffe and Triple Eight’s involvement in the race ended after the Llanelli driver was tagged into a spin by a competitor. Damage to the inner wheelguard led to the right-rear tyre coming apart at high speed, pitching the car into the wall.
“Obviously GT3 is my future,” the Welshman explained. “I’m planning to do a few more GT3 events this year with Triple Eight, but right now my immediate future is focused on the development work planned to help me further adjust to life in GT3. The BMW is a phenomenal car, and I’m really enjoying working with the team.”
www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have full coverage of this weekend’s event from Silverstone with reports from each of the sessions as well as live text commentary of the three hour race. The event will also be televised live by MotorsTV.