Martin Short’s Rollcentre Racing will be making a return to the British GT grid in 2016 with an ex-Barwell BMW Z4 GT3 following five years away from the series.
Campaigning the season as Team Abba, Short himself will be racing with regular team mate Richard Neary in a BMW which has a good pedigree – it was raced by the Demon Tweeks team of Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw.
It’s also a welcome return to a team that has made its mark on the British GT field since the turn of the century with the team entering their first season in the year 2000 with a TVR Cerbera. Two years later they almost won the title on-board a Tuscan R before Tom Herridge swept to the title in a Mosler MT900R.
The last time the Rollcentre named adorned an entry list was in 2011 when they entered a Ginetta G55 GT3 for Andrew Jordan and Tom Sharp.
Now, this new entry will make the most of the team’s links with BMW – they raced a BMW M3 V8 around Europe this year including the Britcar 24 Hours – and will now be using the Z4 to step up into Britain’s premier GT series.
While Neary will be new to the championship he has more than twenty years of racing experience – including racing that above mentioned M3.
“After many years of just dabbling in motorsport I took the plunge at more serious racing with Rollcentre this year in the M3,” Neary said. “It’s been a great season with many highs. The aim was to discover my driving level and improve it. Martin has helped bring me up to a good standard and I have really enjoyed it.
“The M3 is very high-spec and has really taught me a lot more about driving front-engined cars, with some aero, ABS, Traction Control and paddle shift gearbox. I jumped into the Z4 and felt immediately comfortable; it’s a fabulous car. I’m really looking forward to competing in British GT, and frankly never imagined it possible, but I have learned and achieved so much this year. It’s become a reality.”
The car, which will be an Am-class entry for 2016 could be causing a few surprises if Martin Short is to believed with his years of experience making up for his low-rating.
He said: “It’ll be interesting to see how we fare, especially as a 57-year-old Bronze driver for next year. I am going to be up against some seriously fast Pro drivers! I don’t expect to be able to match them but I will be drawing on all my years of experience to try! Richard at 48 is no spring chicken either, but I am expecting him to be at the top level of the Am drivers. SRO are looking at helping Bronze/Bronze pairings to be more competitive against the Silver-Gold/Bronze partnerships so maybe there will be something else in the armory to assist us.
“The Z4 test was very interesting. The braking distances and corner speeds really surprised me. It’s a very accomplished car, but with only 4.4 litres it’s not the quickest out of the blocks. However, for British GT and the tight nature of the circuits, the Z4 has proven to be very competitive, and with BOP levels being maintained for next year we might well be able to pull out a shock result.”