Finally, 79 days later than scheduled, the opening round of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship will kick off at Oulton Park this weekend (August 1/2).
In the intervening 79 days much has changed, since the original lineup and calendar was announced back in March.
Lineups in both categories are down and the annual Spa round is missing altogether, but despite all of the uncertainly and withdrawals, the series organiser SRO has still managed to put together a nine round season and an impressive 25 car lineup in both classes.
GT3 – No Adam and Aston Martin Means Open Season
Both of last season’s defending champions are absent from the grid as TF Sport withdrew both of their highly promising GT3 Aston Martins entries due financial reasons and scheduling clashes of its drivers.
This means that pre-season title favourites, Jonny Adam & Aston Martin will be missing from the series this year and that has left the door open for new title challengers and potentially another British manufacturer to step.
No fewer than four McLaren 720s GT3s will line up on the starting line and three of the entries are British GT debutantes.
2 Seas Motorsports will enter two McLarens for Dean MacDonald and Angus Fender and as yet unconfirmed line up while former F1 Champ and McLaren F1 driver Jenson Button has teamed up with Team RJN to enter one 720S GT3.
Michael O’Brien steps up from GT4 and he’ll partner the winner of the World’s Fastest Gamer esport TV series James Baldwin who will make his real world GT racing debut.
The final McLaren GT3 entry is Optimum Motorsport who switch from Aston Martin to McLaren and gives reigning Silver cup champion Ollie Wilkinson the chance to defend his crown alongside McLaren Academy Driver Lewis Proctor.
While the McLaren lineup is impressive, the favourites going into the season are the reigning Teams’ Champions Barwell Motorsport whose Lamborghinis have won at least once at Oulton since the Huracan GT3’s debut in 2016.
Last year’s championship contenders Adam Balon and Phil Keen (who has bagged a pole at Oulton for the last two years) are retained in the #72 car while BTCC star Rob Collard joins the GT ranks to partner Sandy Mitchell in the all silver #78 entry.
Another team with form at Oulton is RAM Racing and Ian Loggie (bagged a GT3 pole at here last year) returns with an upgraded Mercedes-AMG featuring the talents of factory ace Yelmer Buurman.
The second gen Bentley Continental GT3 also returns to the scene of its only triumph last year but with an all new line-up.
Nick Jones and Scott Malvern graduate from GT4 with Team Parker who oversaw the pair’s GT4 Pro/Am title success in 2018. Plenty of pre-season testing ensures that like last year they should hit the ground running.
The season also sees the much welcome return of a familiar combination that has previously graced the series, the AF Corse Ferrari of Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin.
The Anglo-Irish pairing will enter an all-new Ferrari 488 GT3 for their first British GT assault since 2017 and while they will not complete the full season, they will prove to be a formidable adversary as always.
GT4 – TF Returns to Defend its Title as Toyota Joins the Field.
Entries in the GT4 class has been halved compared to last year with many teams such as Optimum Motorsport withdrawing their GT4 programmes.
Despite this there is still a healthy and competitive lineup.
While TF Sport are absent from the GT3 class, the Reigning GT4 Teams’ and Drivers’ Champions are present and will be redoubling their effects to defend their titles.
Patrick Kibble returns with new co-driver Connor O’Brien, who raced Optimum’s Vantage throughout 2019, while former British F4 champion Jamie Caroline and Carrera Cup GB frontrunner Daniel Vaughan look like a very capable new pairing.
McLaren is also well represented in the GT4 ranks as HHC Motorsports will enter two 570Ss for debutantes Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers and – perhaps – this year’s most proven GT4 pairing Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen.
The Ford Mustang GT4 was the quickest car at Oulton Park last year, (claiming two poles and one race win) so Academy Motorsport’s lineup of Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert are expecting to be a factor this weekend.
Century Motorsport are also back with their two BMW M4 GT3s and the team welcomes back Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke who showed flashes of pace during his debut GT4 campaign, as well as ex-Academy Motorsport driver Ben Hurst. They’re joined in the BMW garage by Tegiwa duo Luke Sedzikowski and David Whitmore who make one of their two planned outings at Oulton.
But the car that will receive the most attention will be the new for 2020 Speedworks run Toyota Supra GT4.
The BTCC squad will give the car one of its first competitive GT4 outings anywhere in the world and have signed up Sam Smelt, who returns for a second season in the class, alongside debutante James Kell.
The Oulton Park round will see two 1 hour sprint races take place on 2 August.
Follow the Checkered Flag for all of the latest British GT news and updates.