The British GT Championship is off to Spa-Francorchamps this weekend (21-22 July), for the first of three two-hour races in as many months that will ultimately decide this season’s GT4 crowns.
In the second of our Spa previews, we take a look at the GT4 class, arguably the most competitive class in the championship.
Unpredictability remains the watchword in this season’s GT4 title battle, which has seen six different crews representing five teams and four manufacturers win the first half-dozen races.
Century Motorsport became the first outfit to win two races this season thanks to Jack Mitchell and Aleksander Schjerpen’s victory at Silverstone last time out. However, the full 20s pitstop success penalty and a new co-driver in the form of Dean Macdonald mean Mitchell faces an uphill battle this weekend.
It’s a similar story for Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones who find themselves second thanks to an incredible run of four-straight podiums. The Academy Motorsport pair must once again overturn a pitstop handicap if they’re to catch HHC Motorsport’s Callum Pointon and Patrick Matthiesen whose sheer consistency has helped them establish an 8.5-point lead.
Indeed, just one podium (a victory at Rockingham) combined with a 100% points-scoring record has been enough to keep them out front since round two. And with both their nearest rivals hobbled by pitstop success penalties this weekend, that advantage could extend further at a circuit where HHC’s Ginetta claimed two podiums 12 months ago.
Following Ginetta, Aston Martin and BMW in the standings are the McLaren of Tolman Motorsport’s #4 570S shared by Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg. They, like Ben Green and Ben Tuck in fifth, are roughly 20 points behind Pointon and Matthiesen, while a run of two podiums in as many races has also brought Tolman’s second entry of Lewis Proctor and Jordan Albert into play.
However, it’s the Pro Am crews who could be best placed to mount an overall victory challenge this weekend. Only a late puncture denied David Pattison and Joe Osborne last season while UltraTek Racing’s current class leaders Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman picked up their first Pro Am win together at Silverstone; could they finally claim an overall GT4 win for Nissan this weekend?
To do so, they will need to beat several other leading contenders whose seasons have yet to spark. Adam Balon and Ben Barnicoat’s Track-Club McLaren can never be discounted, while Academy’s second Aston Martin driven by Tom Wood and Jan Jonck appears on the verge of regularly running up front.
But perhaps the biggest dark horse this weekend will be Equipe Verschuur’s McLaren, which in the hands of Finlay Hutchison and Daniel McKay left Silverstone pointless despite dominating qualifying and much of the race. Based just two hours away in Holland, the team will be eager to make amends during a weekend that also sees Hutchison and Verschuur contesting the GT4 European Series races together.
Academy Motorsport is in a similar position and will actually take four Aston Martins to Spa, with two contesting each series. Nicoll-Jones will also be pulling double duty by splitting his time between British GT and the GT4 European Series.
Elsewhere, ProTechnika Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 joins British GT’s grid for the remainder of the season at Spa-Francorchamps following the team’s recent establishment by Anna Walewska, who also drives alongside Tom Canning.
The latter’s switch, as well as that of Macdonald, follows Steller Motorsport’s decision to skip Spa in favour of making changes to its Toyota GT86s. The team is expected to make its British GT return at Brands Hatch on 4-5 August. Likewise, Team HARD. Racing, neither of whose Ginettas travel to Belgium.
Sunday’s British GT race will not be streamed on its Facebook page, but fans can still follow the action from each session via the website’s live timing link. Alternatively, why not hop over to Belgium for SRO Speedweek, which is entirely free to attend!