Preview: British GT Championship – Donington Park R6

by Nick Smith

The 2019 British GT Championship field head to Donington Park this weekend for the first of two visits on the calendar. After a record entry at the fifth round of the season, 41 cars head to the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire boarder for a two hour endurance race on Sunday.

Rockingham’s Retirement Affects Calendar.

Usually at this point in a preview, we would take a look at Round 6 from 2018. We recapped the action ahead of the last round though as the Silverstone 500 took this slot in previous years.

That action was recapped in our Round 5 preview, so we wont rehash it here. Instead lets just acknowledge the passing of Rockingham Motor Speedway and remind readers that as a result, the British GT Championship will visit the Donington Park Grand Prix layout twice this year.

What Happened Last Time Out?

As we’ve said, the last round of the championship was the blue riband event on the calendar, the Silverstone 500. 3 hours of intense racing on the nation’s grand prix circuit which left drama till the dying minutes.

GT3: RAC Trophy Goes to RAM Racing.

The final fifteen minutes of the 3 hour race at Silverstone was a nail biting tale of twists and despair. Jonny Adam was leading in the TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 he shared with Graham Davidson. The lead change, a result of success seconds added to the pit stop for Ian Loggie‘s RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, then at the hands of Callum MacLeod, had gifted the AMR pro driver a strong lead of over 10 seconds.

MacLeod instantly set to work demolishing the strong lead held by the Aston Martin. His run made easier by not having to defend the second place against attack from behind. Seb Morris was trying to pass a hard charging Nicki Thiim in the #2 TF Sport machine. Neither had attention to spare for closing the gap to the leading pair.

The Mercedes finally caught up to the Aston Martin and started probing for a weakness. ‘Jonny [Adam] isn’t likely to make a mistake so I put him under a lot of pressure. Showing him my nose, all the usual things, but he is a world class driver so the only real chance was the GT4s,” MacLeod told us after the race.

That chance came with minutes left in the race. The battle came upon the #19 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 in the Maggots and Becketts complex and feeling the pressure, Adam dived to the inside at the right hander of Becketts. Contact was made and Adam was at one point, sideways on the grass but the Scotsman collected it up and continued to charge.

MacLeod dived to the inside at Chapel, forcing the Mustang wide. Wheels locked, as the Ford and the Aston Martin collided, throwing Adam out to the grass again, this time with a broken left rear which ended his run for victory.

Callum MacLeod completed the run to the flag, crossing the line with just three seconds to spare and forcing an extra lap. It didn’t matter though as Thiim continued to fight off the advances of the Bentley from JRM Racing and the podium was set as RAM Racing Mercedes, TF Sport Aston Martin and JRM Bentley.

The very good news, especially for championship leaders Barwell Motorsport, was that the Bentley was later disqualified for failing post race scrutineering. The third place trophies were re-presented to WPI Motorsport, who claimed their first podium in the British GT Championship in only their third weekend in the series and only their second in the class.

For Barwell though, the team still managed to leave Silverstone with the championship lead. That’s despite and early race collision where the #72 of Adam Balon and Phil Keen hit and turned around the #69 of Sam de Haan and Jonny Cocker.

GT4: Victory at Last for TPR’s Malvern and Jones.

After two weekends of constant disappointment, Team Parker Racing‘s Nick Jones and Scott Malvern were finally rewarded with an outright GT4 class victory at Silverstone. The #66 Mercedes-AMG GT4 put on a masterclass, without a single tyre put wrong, to come home over 15 seconds clear at the top of the junior class.

The win was even more remarkable as former GT3 competitors ERC Sport, complete with the services of Mercedes factory driver Maximillian Buhk, took second place and at one point were within seconds of taking the lead.

As with the GT3 story, the Stewards played their part in the GT4 podium too. Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx originally took the final podium spot but a pit stop infringement resulted in a post race time penalty. 30 seconds added to their time promoted Beechdean AMR to the final step of the podium overall. Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman were informed of the change in time to actually take the podium too.

Again, in a shocking similarity to the battle up front, a deserving winner was robbed. Tolman Motorsport were sitting 2-3 in the championship standings at the start of the race and a strong 2 hours for the #5 machine of Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor had them leading the race for much of the allotted time.

That was until a water pump leak shortly after the final pit stop returned the McLaren 570S GT4 to the garage. It joined its team mate, who had been sidelined since the first hour with a mystery mechanical problem.

Whats New for Round 6?

Sir Chris Hoy and Billy Johnson's names on the side of the #19 Multimatic Mustang.
Credit: BritishGT.com/Jakob Ebrey Photography

For the first time this year there are no new cars to announce but that doesn’t mean that there are no changes.

The big news in GT3 is that the #9 BMW M6 GT3 of Century Motorsport still retains the services of JM Littman continues to sub for the injured Adrian Willmott. Also on the sick list after a crash at the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend is great Dane, Marco Sorensen.

Replacing him at Beechedean AMR is Ross Gunn, the 2015 British GT4 Champion and full season driver Andrew Howard‘s podium sitting co-driver from the Road to Le Mans race last weekend.

In GT4 there are other changes with a big name joining the championship for one off appearance. Former British GT competitor and successful cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, joins Billy Johnson in the #19 Mustang GT4. A completely fresh line up in the #19 is still paired with the consistent duo of Maxwell and Priaulx.

What is the Schedule for the Weekend?

Saturday 22nd June

09:40 BST– Practice 1
11:50 BST – Practice 2
15:35 BST – GT3 AM Qualifying
15:49 BST – GT3 Pro Qualifying
16:03 BST – GT4 AM Qualifying
16:18 BST – GT4 Pro Qualifying

Sunday 23rd June

09:40 BST – Warm Up
13:10 BST – Race

Where Can I Watch the British GT Championship at Donington Park?

All necessary ticket information is available on the MSV website, with tickets also available on the gate.

Each race, in addition to a selection of the supporting races, will be streamed live on the British GT’s Facebook page.

How Can I Keep Up With All the British GT Action This Weekend?

If you’re unable to attend the opening races live or watch through the various streaming services available, you can keep updated with all the action here at The Checkered Flag. We’ll be offering you in-depth reports of all the action from practice, qualifying and the races in addition to a number of exclusive interviews from drivers and teams as the drama unfolds.

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