2014 will go down in the history books as the biggest and best season yet for the Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup, with the most competitive grid in the championship’s short history producing twelve podium finishers, eight race-winners and an intriguing championship battle.
The fourth year running the Ginetta G55 saw the series move to GT4 specification for the first time. While grid numbers fluctuated over the course of the year, the standard of racing certainly didn’t, particularly at the front of the field where series newbie Charlie Robertson and Ginetta stalwart Carl Breeze battled it out for the title.
Youth v Experience
Both Robertson and Breeze headed into the campaign with new teams to the championship, HHC Motorsport and United Autosports respectively, and the first weekend of the season at Brands Hatch proved to be a key point in their eventual title duel.
While Robertson was quick out the blocks with a maiden win in race two, a mechanical issue and contact led to a double retirement for Breeze, bringing with it a fifty point deficit to former Ginetta Junior champion Robertson that left him playing catch-up for the whole season.
It wasn’t until Croft in June that Breeze truly felt at home with his G55 GT4. Two wins in Yorkshire and then two at Knockhill after the summer break helped him make huge strides forward in the standings, but Robertson remained 29 points clear having had a double success of his own at Oulton Park.
Breeze wasn’t able to carry momentum from those wins into the closing stages though, and a supreme run of podium finishes for Robertson, sixteen in the final eighteen races, meant the HHC racer emerged as the deserving champion come the Brands Hatch finale.
A look at the numbers show Robertson was the stand-out driver in the field, his eight wins and twenty podium finishes being comfortably more than any other driver. He also took six pole positions from qualifying, including five in a row from Donington Park to Snetterton, both new Supercup records.
It was also a record-breaking year for Breeze though, his four wins seeing him eclipse Tom Sharp’s outright win record as he and the championship reached the 100 race milestone, however a disastrous finale weekend meant he was eventually overhauled in the points by another young charger.
That man was David Pittard, with a superb run of five top two finishes in the final seven races seeing him snatch the vice-champion honours. That capped off a sensational maiden campaign for the Supercup rookie, who ran with fellow category newcomers SV Racing.
Pittard burst into the title picture at Thruxton, two wins and a second place in Hampshire putting him right into the spotlight. His outright title ambitions were dented by a couple of costly mid-season retirements, but a total of five wins, eight fastest laps and two pole positions made it a year to remember.
For the first half of the season, it looked like Andrew Watson was going to be a firm title contender as well, the Douglas Motorsport ace hitting the ground running with a stunning podium hat-trick at the Brands opener and a second win at Thruxton.
A tough mid-season run meant his title challenge tailed off though, but he bounced back to post three wins in the final six races. Those victories meant that were it not for dropped scores, Watson would have finished second in the standings having been the only driver to finish in the top ten in every race this year.
Finding himself on the peripheral of the battle for a top three championship finish throughout the season was Tom Oliphant. In his first full season with Century Motorsport, the former single-racer hinted at his potential with a maiden win early on at Donington.
It was at Snetterton after summer break that Oliphant closed right on to the top three with a superb podium treble, and while he couldn’t sustain the challenge in the final few weekends, he took a comfortable top five points finish with ten podium finishes.
Best Of The Rest
Completing the top six in the standings was Luke Davenport, who had an up and down first Supercup season with United Autosports that started in sensational fashion with a surprise victory on the opening weekend at Brands Hatch.
While Davenport was able to add a second win at Knockhill and two other podium finishes, he was left frustrated with a lack of top six consistency, which wasn’t helped by a poor qualifying record that saw him card just one top six start all season.
Davenport and Breeze’s successes earnt their United Autosports team a comfortable victory in the Teams Championship meanwhile. Douglas Motorsport led the way early on, but UA soon seized the initiative and won the title by over a hundred points.
HHC Motorsport ended up in the runners-up spot, thanks in part to a mid-season move to the team from Jamie Orton. It was a season of unfulfilled potential for Orton, with his strong raw pace giving him the fourth best qualifying record on the grid, but just one podium finish left him down in eighth in the points.
Finishing above him was Will Burns. It proved to be a mixed campaign for the Academy Motorsport racer, the highlight of the season being a stunning run of eleven consecutive top five finishes from Oulton Park to Rockingham, a feat unmatched by any of his adversaries.
Unfortunately for Burns though, that momentum came to a halt with five retirements in a row to end the campaign. That made it nine of the season, more than any other driver, but the Ginetta Challenge graduate ends the year pleased to have carded four podium finishes.
One of the big stories at the start of the season was Pepe Massot. The Spaniard was expected to be a title contender in his second season in the category but despite a win at Donington Park, an all-round tough start to the year led to him moving to the Porsche Carrera Cup GB from Croft onwards.
Massot wasn’t the only other front-runner to only partake in a part-campaign this year. Budget restraints meant Sean Huyton was forced to sit out the second half of the season after taking a podium finish at Croft, while early top three finisher Harry Woodhead was missing from action from Oulton onwards after suffering a knee injury.
Carl Boardley took part in the opening rounds at Brands Hatch before being forced into a spell on the sidelines, but the JHR Developments racer returned for the final three weekends and took a top six finish on his return to Brands for the season finale.
Category stalwarts Dan Norris-Jones, Reece Somerfield and Fergus Walkinshaw were all in action once again, each taking regular top ten finishes. The latter two were also part of one of the main talking points of the season, having dramatically come to blows after the chequered flag at Knockhill.
As has become part of the course in the Supercup over the last few years, the championship played host to a number of drivers enjoying short stays in the series. Tom Howard joined for the final three weekends with new-to-the-series Tollbar Racing, settling in the top ten from the off, while Academy’s Dennis Strandberg took a best of fifth in a late five-race run.
Amongst those making one-off appearances were Max Coates, the popular Yorkshireman securing a top six finish on his home circuit Croft, Renault UK Clio Cup vice-champion Josh Cook who battled in the top eight at Silverstone, and Declan Jones, who’s return to the Supercup after two years away produced a stunning podium finish at the Brands finale.
The climax of the 2014 season also provided a glimpse into the future, with Ginetta trialling a Pro-Am format they plan to implement fully next season. British GT regular Paul McNeilly took four class wins in five, with Steve Fresle picking up the other.
Final Championship Standings:
|1||Charlie Robertson||HHC Motorsport||710|
|2||David Pittard||SV Racing||627||-83|
|3||Carl Breeze||United Autosports||615||-95|
|4||Andrew Watson||Douglas Motorsport||608||-102|
|5||Tom Oliphant||Century Motorsport||546||-164|
|6||Luke Davenport||United Autosports||451||-259|
|7=||Will Burns||Academy Motorsport||354||-356|
|7=||Jamie Orton||HHC Motorsport||354||-356|
|9||Dan Norris-Jones||Priocept Racing||247||-463|
|11||Pepe Massot||JHR Developments||176||-534|
|12||Sean Huyton||Academy Motorsport||149||-561|
|13||Fergus Walkinshaw||FW Motorsport||124||-586|
|14||Harry Woodhead||Douglas Motorsport||113||-597|
|15||Carl Boardley||JHR Developments||90||-620|
|16||Declan Jones||SV Racing||68||-642|
|17||Tom Howard||Tollbar Racing||63||-647|
|18||Dennis Strandberg||Academy Motorsport||62||-648|
|19||Michael Munemann||Algarve Pro Racing Team||56||-654|
|22||Josh Cook||SV Racing||30||-680|
|23||Paul McNeilly||Fox Motorsport||29||-681|
|24||James Owen||FW Motorsport||28||-682|
|26||Rory Bryant||SV Racing||22||-688|
|27||Giles Dawson||Richardson Racing||20||-690|
|28||Josh Wakefield||JHR Developments||19||-691|
|29||Steve Fresle||Century Motorsport||18||-692|
|30||Aleksander Schjerpen||Century Motorsport||17||-693|
|31||David Pattison||Tolman Motorsport||14||-696|
|32||Will Moore||Academy Motorsport||10||-700|
|33||John Hindhough||Team LNT||9||-701|