Snett set to decide British GT titles?
18th August 2015
Both Avon Tyres British GT Championship class titles could be decided at Snetterton this weekend (August 22/23) as the 2015 campaign reaches its penultimate two rounds.
The 13-turn, 2.969-mile Norfolk venue has never witnessed a driver crowned British GT champion but that could all change when Barwell Motorsport/Ecurie Ecosse’s Marco Attard and Alexander Sims (GT3), and Beechdean AMR’s Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn (GT4) line up for the second of Sunday’s one-hour races.
Standing in their way is a cast of hopefuls eager to take the title chase down to the wire at Donington Park’s final round next month. Here’s how both classes stand ahead of British GT’s second double-header of the year.
GT3: FOUR CREWS, ONE TITLE
34 points. That’s the advantage reigning champion Attard and co-driver Sims enjoy over their nearest rivals, Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam, following Ecurie Ecosse’s second victory of the season at Brands Hatch last time out. With a maximum of 50 points available across both races the pressure’s on the latter pairing to reduce their deficit ahead of Donington’s two-hour season finale where an additional 37.5 points will be up for grabs.
The BMW Z4 GT3’s 15-second pit-stop success penalty ensures it’s unlikely to be a victory candidate in Snetterton’s opening encounter, giving Howard and Adam a chance to make up ground before potentially incurring their own handicap in race two. That they won last year’s second one-hour sprint certainly stands them in good stead.
Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin V12 Vantage isn’t the only contender, though. Indeed, two other pairings – Oman Racing Team’s Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher, and Triple Eight Racing’s Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne – still harbour genuine hopes of claiming this year’s Drivers’ title.
Of the two it’s fourth-placed Mowle and Osborne, currently 47.5 points adrift of the lead, who have the most momentum following their edge-of-the-seat second place at Brands Hatch. A non-score at Spa aside, the #888 BMW has carried a consistent podium threat this year but will need a little help from those ahead in the points to realistically feature in the title fight should it come down to Donington.
The same can be said of Griffin and Butcher who saw a likely rostrum turn into only sixth place – their joint-worst result of a remarkably consistent campaign – at Brands Hatch. They therefore head to Snetterton 40 points adrift of Attard and Sims knowing that a first victory since the season opener at Oulton Park is imperative if they’re to remain championship contenders.
Only on Sunday evening will the fluctuating fortunes of all four crews determine whether the British GT3 Drivers’ title is won ahead of the final round for the first time since 2010.
Elsewhere, both TF Sport Aston Martins showed improved pace at Brands, culminating in Derek Johnston and Matt Bell scoring their maiden podium of the year. And with Andrew Jarman and Jody Fannin also running well in the sister V12 Vantage before an accident ended their hopes, you’d expect both to feature once again at Snetterton.
Team LNT regular Tom Oliphant’s Ginetta GT4 SuperCup title ambitions see him skip Snetterton in favour of Knockhill. Rick Parfitt Jnr is therefore joined in the #44 Ginetta G55 GT3 by Ryan Ratcliffe, the pair teaming up for the first time since winning the GT4 title together in 2013.
The 16-strong GT3 field is bolstered by the returning #12 Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S in the hands of Salih Yoluc and Euan Hankey.
Meanwhile, the Teams’ Championship battle continues to rage between Barwell Motorsport and Oman Racing. The two-car operations are separated by just 21 points, with Beechdean AMR – which only runs a single Aston Martin – 52 further back.
GT4: CAN ANYONE HALT BEECHDEAN AMR?
That Chadwick and Gunn have been the class of an extremely competitive GT4 field owes everything to their mix of speed and consistency. Only once all year have the teenagers failed to finish on the podium, which has helped them establish a 42.5-point lead at the top of the standings. And with just 37.5 to play for at September’s Donington finale it’s imperative that their main rivals reduce that gap at Snetterton.
Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson’s runner-up finish at Brands Hatch – their best result since winning the Oulton Park season opener – has helped them re-claim second in the standings as the campaign enters its home straight. And the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport-run G55 GT4 will need a similar result at a circuit that produced a Ginetta 1-2-3 last season if it’s to remain in title contention.
Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw have perhaps been the sharpest thorn in Beechdean AMR’s side this year before their title chances were dealt a major blow after retiring at Brands Hatch last time out. The ISSY Racing pair would certainly be popular winners at Snetterton aboard their Norfolk-built Lotus Evora, and victory in the opening race last season certainly suggests they’ll be contenders once again.
Local boy Luke Davenport and co-driver David Pattison picked up their maiden British GT victory at Brands Hatch to sit fourth in the table, albeit too far off the lead to be considered championship hopefuls. Expect their Tolman Motorsport-run Ginetta to be somewhere near the front along with Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Dennis Strandberg who will continue searching for their elusive first GT4 victory.
Such is the depth of quality in GT4’s 15-strong field that any number of driver and car combinations could come to the fore at Snetterton. One of the most interesting might be Jamie Stanley and Fulvio Mussi who team-up aboard the Brands pole-winning Fox Motorsport Ginetta for the first time thanks to regular co-driver Paul McNeilly’s business commitments. It will be Mussi’s first British GT appearance since 2008 when he shared a Ginetta G50 with Bradley Ellis.
The AmDTuning.com Porsche 911 of Graham Coomes and Jake Hill has been there or thereabouts all season, while Aleksander Schjerpen and James Birch’s Century Motorsport Ginetta still awaits a long-overdue first podium of the year.
Elsewhere, Jade Edwards’ Stratton Motorsport/UltraTek Aston Martin returns to the British GT fold for the first time since Rockingham. She shares the #51 GT4 Challenge with David Tinn at Snetterton, where Richard Williams will also be back behind the wheel of GPRM’s Toyota GT86 alongside regular co-driver Stefan Hodgetts.
Both of Sunday’s races will be live on Motors TV (Freeview 71 & 240, Sky 447 and Virgin Media 545). Coverage begins at 12:35 and 16:20 BST.
Gavin Johnson, Avon Tyres Development Manager – Motorsport, runs the rule over Brands Hatch.
“2015 sees the Avon Tyres British GT Championship visit Snetterton in August following several years of the race being held in June. Weather conditions have traditionally play a big part in the action, with flash flooding quickly reverting to hot and dry conditions that provide a real challenge for engineers and drivers alike. Long-range forecasts show that the weather could play a big part in the race weekend, once again.
“As an old airfield, and now the second longest circuit in the UK, the modern day Snetterton 300 layout has been transformed into a circuit that offers a great mix of long duration high speed corners, long fast straights and tight technical turns. All this results in an exciting challenge for teams and drivers to extract the optimum performance from their tyres, which will be subjected to extreme loads as the cars are pushed to deliver the highest levels of traction, braking and lateral grip.
“The race format for the weekend will see two one-hour races, which places greater importance on qualifying in the best position possible. The track can be tight and narrow for cars at this high level of performance in such a competitive field, and past years have shown that off-track excursions can be punishing.”
Dry = Medium: New for 2015 in British GT and designed for widest possible ambient temperature range (so operational from track temps of about 10°C to 40°C). Will reach temperatures during the races of around 110ºC.
Wet = Soft: Ensures maximum security and confidence for all drivers (especially the less experienced of the GT3 drivers). Typical temperatures of 50-60ºC.
Pressures start at around 1.4bar and reach 1.9 to 2.1bar in 3-5 laps.
The new-for-2015 tyre has optimised compound and construction to provide high levels of confidence for the gentleman drivers enabling them to develop their race craft, while allowing the pros to fully explore the limits of the car’s performance potential.
SNETTERTON WEEKEND SCHEDULE
Saturday 22 August
09:30 – 10:10: Free Practice 1
10:10 – 10:30: Bronze-only session
11:45 – 12:35: Free Practice 2
15:25 – 15:35: Qualifying GT3 Am
15:38 – 15:48: Qualifying GT3 Pro
15:51 – 16:01: Qualifying GT4 Am
16:06 – 16:16: Qualifying GT4 Pro
Sunday 23 August
09:25 – 09:35: Warm-up
12:55 – 13:55: Race 1 (1 hour)
16:30 – 17:30: Race 2 (1 hour)
Click here to download the Snetterton entry list.
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com