Photo: British GT Championship / Jakob Ebrey Photography.
The 2019 British GT Championship makes it first visit of the season to Donington Park (or second if you count the season-opening Media Day in March) for Round Six, a two-hour race on the internationally renowned 2.498 mile (4.02 kms) circuit.
16 cars take to the grid in the GT3 class with 25 entries in the GT4 category making a total of 41 cars competing on the undulating Leicestershire circuit.
There are two changes in the GT3 entry list. Tom Onslow-Cole replaces Adam Christodoulou to join Richard Neary in the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, the AMG factory driver on duty at the Nürburgring this weekend.
There is a change for less positive reasons in the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 where 2015 British GT GT4 champion Ross Gunn steps in to partner team owner Andrew Howard after regular season driver Marco Sorensen was injured in a significant crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In the GT4 class, the guest drivers for the #19 Multimatic Motorsports Europe Ford Mustang GT4 will be Sir Chris Hoy and Billy Johnson. Six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris won the European Le Mans Series LMP3 title in 2015, driving the Team LMT Ginetta-Juno LMP3 and has previously competed in GTs, piloting the AMR Performance Centre Vantage V8 in a round of the 2018 24H Series.
Partnering Sir Chris will be Multimatic and Ford Performance pilot Billy Johnson. Alongside teammates Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla, Johnson finished sixth in the LMGTE Pro class at the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the wheel of the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi team UK Ford GT.
Sir Chris Hoy is looking forward to the first of his two drives in the British Gt Championship.
“Multimatic is one of the automotive industry’s best kept secrets as they work on so many extremely cool but secret programmes,” said Hoy. “I’ve seen the success they made of the Ford GT programme so I’m excited to get behind the wheel of one of their cars.
An additional car on the grid at Donington will be the #74 Track Focused KTM X-Bow GT4, with the driver line-up of Alexander McEwen and Ross McEwen.
The Lamborghini Huracán has proved highly competitive across Europe this season and the proof is that the two Barwell Motorsports entries sit at the top of the GT3 standings. The #72 Barwell Motorsports driver line-up of Adam Balon and Lamborghini factory driver Phil Keen head the table on 89 points, 13 ahead of teammates Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker. Balon and Keen have enjoyed a dominant start to the season with a double win at Snetterton and a second and fourth place finish in the opening weekend at Oulton Park.
De Haan and Cocker, currently second in the driver standings, have also had a solid start to 2019. De Haan has been revelation and his confident and assertive driving belies his relative inexperience in the senior GT category. A win, a second and two fourth-place finishes mean that the crew of the #69 car cannot be discounted in making a bid for the lead in the standings.
Optimum Motorsport’s Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis, teammates in the #96 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, sit in third place in the GT3 drivers standings on 51 points, courtesy of a podium and fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth-place finishes in the opening five races. Although 38 points off the lead, the Wakefield-based team have certainly been more consistent with the new Vantage than their rivals and the team know how to win championships, as evidenced by last year.
The GT4 Drivers standings are headed by the #57 HHC Motorsport pairing of Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon. A win in the opening round at Oulton park has not, so far this season, been followed by the same level of success but the pace of the McLaren 570S GT4 is not in dispute so expect to see Macdonald and Pointon at the sharp end at Donington.
The battle is the GT4 standings is close with Multimatic Motorsports Europe’s Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx, teammates in the #15 Ford Mustang GT4 two behind the leaders in second and Beechdean AMR’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman a further point behind in third. The GT4 contest at Donington will be closely fought and surprises can be expected.
The British GT Championship’s last outing at Silverstone produced a hugely exciting three-hour race, with the leading #47 TF Sport Aston Martin making contact with a GT4 entry in the closing minutes, sustaining damage and finishing ninth while the #31 JRM Racing Bentley Continental GT3, which finished third on the track, was disqualified. The on-track action was proof that the British GT Championship remains the premier national GT competition globally.
British GT activity gets underway at 09:40 on Saturday June 22 with the first Free Practice session. The four 15-minute qualifying sessions start at 15:35 later in the afternoon.
The lights go out for the two-hour Round Six of the British GT Championship at 13:10 on Sunday June 23.