Cheshire’s Oulton Park stages for the opening rounds of the 2019 British GT Championship over the Easter weekend of April 20 – 22.
35 cars will take to the iconic 2.692 mile (4.307 km) circuit, regarded as an ‘old school’ track of blind crests, changing gradients and challenging corners.
14 cars representing seven manufacturers are entered in the GT3 category. British marque Aston Martin is the most represented on the 2019 GT3 grid with four examples of Gaydon’s new-for-2019 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, replacing the venerable V12 Vantage that retired from domestic competition at the end of last season.
Redhill-based TF Sport has entered two Vantage GT3s. Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim will again join forces in the team’s #2 entry. Farmer and Thiim finished third in the GT3 drivers standings in 2018, a season which saw the British amateur driver and the Danish Aston-Martin factory ace take six podium finishes including victories at Snetterton and Spa.
Completing the TF Sport GT3 line-up for 2019 is the #47 pairing of three-time British GT Champion Jonny Adam and Aberdeen-based businessman Graham Davidson. Davidson contested the 2018 season in the Jetstream V12 Vantage alongside Maxime Martin, finishing seventh in the drivers standings in a season that included a win at Spa-Francorchamps. Davidson has clearly laid down a marker that he intends to win the 2019 championship and partnering with a fellow Scot who is arguably one of the best driver-coaches in the world and undergoing a significant pre-season programme of on-track and simulator testing means that he is well prepared.
Optimum Motorsport, the team within which Jonny Adam and Flick Haigh won the 2o18 drivers championship, returns for 2019 with the #96 Silver pairing of Oliver Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis. Wilkinson and Ellis contested the International GT Open championship in 2018 and, backed by the ‘My Possible Self’ mental health app, Ollie Wilkinson is looking forward to the new season.
“It’s going to be a big year adapting to the new series and learning the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 but testing has gone well, I’ve got a good feel for the car and I’m building confidence with every outing,” said Wilkinson. “Aside from mastering the car, my biggest challenge will be battling against a vastly more experienced field of drivers who have been racing in the series for years.”
Andrew Howard’s Beechdean AMR will be campaigning the new-generation Vantage, with Marco Sørensen joining the team owner behind the wheel. Speaking in November 2018, Andrew Howard was looking forward to the 2019 season, which includes a GT4 entry on the British GT Championship grid.
“The new Aston Martin Vantage is looking very strong for 2019 and I am excited to be pairing up with Marco,” said Howard. “He showed exceptional pace in 2018 on many tracks that were completely new to him. It is also great to see Beechdean AMR back to running two cars in British GT. As ever it’s going to be a fiercely competitive series but we are planning to be at the sharp end in both categories. Bring on Oulton Park!”
Lamborghini is represented by two examples of the Huracán GT3 Evo, both Pro/Am entries from 2018 Teams Championship runner-up Barwell Motorsport. Jonny Cocker will once again join Sam De Haan in the #69 entry while Adam Balon joins Phil Keen in the sister #72 car. Keen has driven with Barwell Motorsport for the past four seasons, partnering with Jon Minshaw and finishing runners-up in the Drivers Championship for the past three seasons.
“It’s great to be back for another year with Lamborghini and Barwell in British GT,” said Phil keen when the 2019 pairing was announced last year. “I’m really looking forward to working with Adam and seeing what we can achieve in our first year together.”
There will be a pair of new-generation Bentley Continental GT3s on the British GT grid in 2019, courtesy of an entry each from Team Parker Racing and JRM Racing. Glynn Geddie and Ryan Ratcliffe form a Silver driving partnership in the #7 Team Parker Racing entry while 2017 Drivers Champions Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris return with the British marque in the #31 JRM Racing entry. After having announced his retirement at the end of the 2017 season, it took a lot to persuade Rick Parfitt Jnr to return.
“JRM did everything they could to make sure that we had exactly the right team, coupled with their expertise,” said Parfitt Jnr, speaking at the season-launch Media Day at Donington Park in March. “From that perspective, and the investment they’re putting into it, it was just a deal that I absolutely could not say ‘no’ to.”
Century Motorsport has entered a pair of BMW M6 GT3s, the #3 car being driven by Dominic Paul and Ben Green while Adrian Willmott and Jack Mitchell will drive the #9 entry.
Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod have made a move from Team Parker Racing and its Bentley Continental GT3 to RAM Racing and the #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Team ABBA Racing returns to the British GT Championship with its Mercedes, Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou forming the driver line-up.
With G-Cat Racing missing the opening weekend, only one Porsche will be on the grid, the #18 911 GT3 Cup entry from WPI Motorsport.
Balfe Motorsport has changed from its McLaren 650S GT3 which it campaigned in the 2018 season to the new-generation 720S GT3. Shaun Balfe, one half of the Lincolnshire team’s ownership and driver will be joined by Rob Bell for the 2019 season.
The GT4 grid offers mouth-watering competition for the new season with 21 cars from seven manufacturers competing for class honours.
Aston Martin is the most popular of GT4 weapon for 2019 with no less than seven examples on the grid. As mentioned earlier, Beechdean AMR Returns to GT4 competition with the #11 V8 Vantage GT4, to be campaigned by the Pro-Am line-up of Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman.
Optimum Motorsport has entered two V8 Vantage GT4s, the #35 to be piloted by Connor O’Brien and Jack Butel whilst its #75 car will have the Silver line-up of Mike Robinson and Patrik Matthiesen while Academy Motorsport will be campaigning two Silver pairings with its #61 Vantage GT4 to be driven by Micah Stanley and ben Hurst while its #62 entry will be piloted by Alex Toth-Jones and Will Moore.
Finally TF Sport completes its four-car line-up for the 2019 British GT Championship with two Silver pairings. Patrick Kibble and Josh Price will drive its #95 Vantage GT4 and Tom Canning, who drove the ProTechnika Motorsport Mercedes in 2018, and Ashley Hand join forces in the #97 car.
McLaren sees five of the Woking manufacturer’s 570S GT4s on the 2019 grid. Tolman Motorsport has entered the #4 and #5 McLaren 570S GT4, the former with the driver line-up of James Dorlin and Josh Smith and the latter to be piloted by Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor. Balfe Motorsport has also partnered its GT3 campaign with as 570S GT4 entry, experienced amateur driver Graham Johnson being joined by McLaren Young Professional Michael O’Brien in the #20 car.
Completing the McLaren entries is the #57 and #58 entries from HHC Motorsport. Callum Pointon and Dean Macdonald will partner in the #57 car while Tom Jackson and Luke Williams share the driving duties in the sister #58 entry.
A new manufacturer to the contemporary British GT grid is Ford with its Mustang GT4. Three examples are to be campaigned in 2019 with two being entered by Multimatic, the motorsports arm of Multimatic Engineering. Scott Maxwell will join Seb Priaulx in the #15 entry while Chad McCumbee joins Jade Buford in the #19. Lincoln-based RACE Performance will also campaign a Ford Mustang GT4, its #23 entry being driven by Sam Smelt and Árón Taylor-Smith.
2018 GT4 Teams Champion Century Motorsport returns with its pair of BMW M4 GT4s., the #42 being piloted by Mark Kimber and Jacob Mathiassen while its #43 will see Angus Fender and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke behind the wheel.
Invictus Games racing will campaign a single Jaguar F-TYPE SVR GT4, driven at Oulton Park by Steve McCulley and Matthew George.
Two Mercedes-AMG GT4s will be present on the GT4 grid. Team Parker Racing will campaign its #66 Pro/Am entry, driven by Nick Jones and Scott Malvern while Fox Motorsports also has a Pro-Am entry with Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst driving the #77 car.
Completing the GT4 grid is a single KTM X-Bow GT4, the #32 Track Focused entry, driven by the Pro/Am line-up of Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper.
Track action for the British GT Championship begins with FP1 at 09:30 on Saturday April 20. Qualifying starts at 15:15 in the afternoon with the lights going out for the first of two one-hour races at 11:15 on Monday April 22.
The 2019 season promises to be a classic with highly competitive grids across both classes. Don’t miss it!