2016 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup Season Review

Three Points.

After 27 races full of twists and turns, that is all that separated Tom Wrigley and Will Burns at the top of the 2016 Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup standings following a rollercoaster title fight during the sixth season of the BTCC support championship.

Wrigley came away with the title glory, but only just, with the title duel literally going down to the 373rd and final racing lap of the season at Brands Hatch, with a storming dive into Paddock Hill Bend seeing Wrigley crucially stick to Burns’ rear bumper.

It shouldn’t have gotten that far though. Seven weeks earlier Wrigley had headed into the final race at Knockhill with a mammoth 109 point championship lead, and all the talk was about how quickly he’d seal the honours … but this is motorsport and it’s never, ever that easy.

Bad luck and decision making for Wrigley, combined with sheer determination and consistency from his chief challenger Burns, meant that the gap continued to close between the two through the closing weekends – a double DNF at Rockingham in particular losing Wrigley a big chunk of points.

Ultimately though the 24 year old held on to deliver a first title to the Rob Boston Racing team – with a partnership that had blossomed with a pair of wins in the second half of 2015 having gone on to be an unexpectedly unstoppable force over the first few meetings of this season.

Wrigley finished on the podium in each of the opening thirteen races of the season, a new series record, and within that spell stepped onto the top step of the podium on nine occasions – with sensational hat-tricks going his way at both Donington Park and Knockhill.

Burns And Wrigley Fought To The Very End At Brands Hatch - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Burns And Wrigley Fought To The Very End At Brands Hatch – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Burns meanwhile had kicked off his third Supercup season with a third different team in Douglas Motorsport, with their new partnership reaping immediate rewards with a maiden victory going the Weston-Super-Mare racer’s way during the season opener at Brands Hatch.

From that point on Burns was a pretty permanent fixture in the top three, finishing on the podium during each of the eight race weekends during this shortened Supercup campaign, with Burns’ final tally of seventeen rostrum finishes being one more than the eventual champion.

Burns ended the year with three race wins to his name as he remarkably finished outside the top five on only two occasions all season, and even though Wrigley did so five times in the last ten races, his superior win tally gave him the honours at the end of a fascinating title battle.

While it was ultimately a two-horse race for championship glory, it could easily have been a three-way battle for the top spot, with Jamie Orton having produced a standout campaign in the season during which he reached the milestone of 100 Supercup starts.

The 36 year old kicked off the season in style with the opening pole position and race win of the campaign, before going on to produce the most successful run of his time in the series so far with six wins in seven races across the Snetterton, Rockingham and Silverstone meetings.

Orton’s title hopes were effectively over in the middle of that run though when he missed the visit to Knockhill for the birth of his first child – a non-score in Scotland having been made worse by the fact a postponed race carried across from Snetterton made it the first quadruple-header in series history.

Orton Was The Driver To Beat Following The Summer Break - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Orton Was The Driver To Beat Following The Summer Break – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Orton would eventually finish the campaign fourth in the championship standings, with a troublesome season finale allowing Carl Boardley to pip him to the final position in the top three following a brilliant run of four podium finishes in six races at the end of the campaign.

Boardley’s raw pace has never been in doubt throughout his time in the series, but this year he was able to turn it into his most consistent and successful Supercup campaign so far, with eight podium finishes including breakthrough wins on each of the final two weekends.

Only two other drivers would end the campaign with race wins to their name, with one of those being Total Control Racing’s Mark Davies. While the former triple Ginetta champion wouldn’t feature at the front of the grid as much as hoped, he did grab a fourth series win at Rockingham.

The other was privateer Tom Hibbert, who was a regular top six finisher across the first half of the campaign before taking a deserved podium breakthrough at Knockhill. That would be the first of three rostrum finishes, with the last being a maiden victory during the Brands Hatch finale.

Two drivers who impressed this season as they made progressions up the Ginetta ladder were Callum Pointon and Ben Green, with the graduates from the GT5 Challenge and Juniors respectively both fighting their way towards the front of the field during the campaign.

Green Was A Revelation This Season With His Family Team - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Green Was A Revelation This Season With His Family Team – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Pointon had to wait a while for a deserved podium breakthrough to come his way at Silverstone, while Green notched one early on at Donington Park before taking two more at Knockhill, an impressive feat considering it was only his second ever season of car-racing.

Reece Somerfield was another podium finisher this year, with his love affair with Brands Hatch continuing as he added to his maiden series win there in 2015 with a second place finish during each visit this season – his two rostrum results giving him a fourth consecutive top ten points finish.

A number of other drivers enjoyed top six results through the campaign, with Rob Wheldon kicking off his season in style with third place in the opener before departing the series after Donington Park, while a one-off for Declan Jones at Oulton Park produced a pair of fifths.

Experienced Ginetta racer Rob Gaffney was an almost ever-present contender during his comeback season and broke into the top six on three occasions, while former Junior champion Jack Mitchell did so in four of the six races he contested, whilst also playing his part in the dramatic season finale.

Alongside Mitchell, three other talented drivers made appearances in the final two weekends of the season, with newly-crowned GT5 Challenge champion Ollie Chadwick at Silverstone and then current and former British GT4 champions in Jack Bartholomew and Jamie Stanley at Brands Hatch.

In the AM class meanwhile, it was all about Colin White for the second season in succession, with the Ginetta stalwart using all his experience to dominate proceedings in the class, securing a sensational eighteen class victories in 23 races to successfully defend his title.

White Has Taken 32 AM Class Wins In Two Seasons - Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography
White Has Taken 32 AM Class Wins In Two Seasons – Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Four of the five times White didn’t win the class he also didn’t finish the race though, which meant the class wasn’t officially decided until the season finale due to the consistency of Chris Ingram, who took sixteen class podium finishes on his way to second in the points.

Only three drivers would compete in all 23 races this season, the last one being Fraser Robertson who secured nine rostrum finishes including a popular maiden win at Silverstone, while Grahame Tilley only missed the Rockingham weekend as he grabbed the final spot in the top three.

David Brooks was a class-winner at the Brands Hatch finale during a strong six weekend spell, while James Guess superbly finished on the podium in all six races he contested. Chris Car, Mike Newbold, John Wall and Gary Lancashire also made appearances through the season.

While it wasn’t the strongest season ever for the championship, with steady entry numbers peaking only at nineteen late in the year and less top-level talents than in previous years, the Supercup once again succeeded in providing some brilliant on-track action and an intriguing title battle.

With Wrigley having added his name to a roll call of Supercup champions that includes the likes of Ginetta factory driver Charlie Robertson and BTCC race-winners Tom Ingram and Adam Morgan, all eyes now turn to 2017, with early indications pointing at a promising entry for season seven.

Full championship standings at the end of the season can be found here.