The 2019 British GT Championship reaches its penultimate round on the Brands Hatch GP circuit over the weekend of August 3 – 4 after what seems like five minutes since the season was launched at Donington in early March.
37 cars are listed on the provisional entry to be on the grid at the iconic Kent circuit – 14 in the GT3 class and 23 in the GT4 category.
In the GT3 class Tom Onslow-Cole will drive alongside Richard Neary in the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 while the teammate for Jack Mitchell in the #9 Century Motorsport BMW M6 GT has yet to be declared, JM Littman not on the entry list for Brands Hatch.
Neither the #33 G-Cat Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Shamus Jennings and Greg Caton, and the #37 M2 Competition Aston Martin AMR Vantage GT3, piloted at Spa-Francorchamps by Tony Quinn and Darren Turner, will be present at Brands Hatch. The #37 car was entered for Spa only and business commitments have forced G-Cat Racing’s Shamus Jennings to skip the Brands Hatch round.
A very welcome return to the GT3 grid, however, is the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage, to be driven by team owner Andrew Howard and Valentin Hasse-Clot. 23-year-old French driver Hasse-Clot has experience in Porsche Carrera Cup as well as the Gaydon-based marque in ADAC GT Masters with Propeak Performance.
The GT4 category sees a number of changes for the penultimate round. The guest drivers for the #19 Multimatic Motorsports Europe Ford Mustang GT4, which, for Spa, were Sir Chris Hoy and Andy Priaulx, will be Richard Meaden and Jack Roush Jr.
Four cars from the Spa-Francorchamps entry will be missing for Brands Hatch. The #21 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4, piloted by Maria Flewitt and Stewart Proctor, and the #30 ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG GT4, driven by Peter Belshaw and Maxi Buhk, will not be on the grid as will the #52 Alfab Racing McLaren and the #74 Track Focused KTM X-Bow, previously driven by Alexander McEwen and Ross McEwen.
In the #88 GT Marques Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, Chris Car returns to replace Brent Millage.
The British GT Championship has seen some titanic battles and close racing this season and this is reflected in the standings for the overall GT3 drivers championship. Just half a point separates the #69 Barwell Motorsport crew of Sam de Haan and Jonny Cocker and the sister #72 pairing of Adam Balon and Phil keen. Balon and keen’s double win at Snetterton with a second and fourth place at the opening rounds at Oulton Park compares with a trio of podium places and two fourth-place finishes for De Haan and Keen. It is difficult to see where the momentum lies between the two crews but the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 should, again, be highly competitive.
The #96 Optimum Motorsport crew of Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis currently sit third in the standings, 15.5 points behind Balon and Keen. Victory in the Ardennes will mean that the Wakefield-based team will travel to the South-East brimming with confidence and feedback from a driver who has recent experience in both the Aston Martin and the Lamborghini at GT3 suggests that the front-engined car is a less tiring car to drive. Ellis and Wilkinson will be a pairing to watch over the course of the weekend.
The #47 TF Sport Aston Martin pairing of Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam will arrive at Brands Hatch confident that, given the right BoP breaks, their car will be highly competitive, as proved by a lights-to-flag victory at Donington in June.
After a disappointing weekend at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, driving the Daiko Lazarus Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Graham Davidson will need to recalibrate back to the Aston Martin Vantage for what will, arguably, be one of the most crucial races of his career to date.
“After last weekend at the 24 Hours of Spa, I’m travelling home for a few days and next up is Brands Hatch with TF Sport,” said the Aberdeen-based driver. “I’ll have to screw on my Aston Martin head again, but I’m looking forward to the event. It’s obviously crunch time in the championship but we head there with confidence that we can take it to the final round at Donington in September.”
Expect three-time British GT Champion Adam and the consistent, disciplined Davidson to be in the title-hunt when the grid moves to Donington for the final round in September.
In the GT4 standings, Multimatic Motorsports Europe’s duo of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx, teammates in the #15 Ford Mustang GT4 and currently on 102.5 points, enjoy a slim five-point advantage over the #5 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 pairing of Jordan Collard and Lewis Proctor. Just 2.5 points behind is the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin driver line-up of Ash Hand and Tom Canning.
In a very competitive GT4 season to date, all three pairings have taken victories, Priaulx and Maxwell having stood on the top step of the podium twice while Collard and Proctor won at Snetterton and Hand and Canning took the chequered flag in first place last time out at Spa-Francorchamps. All three pairings will be full of confidence at Brands Hatch and the GT4 battle will be one to watch closely.
TF Sport’s Ash Hand has his sights set on the top step once again.
“Our expectations can’t be anything less than winning now,” said Hand. “I think once you’ve won, you’re in a position where you’re obviously fast enough and you’re doing the right things to be there. So, I think anything other than winning – unless something happens beyond your control in the race – that will always be the aim. We just need to do a mega job, keep focused and get the job done!”
In the Pro-Am GT4 class, Beechdean AMR’s #11 pairing of Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman enjoy the slimmest of margins, just half a point, over the #20 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 duo Graham Johnson and Michael O’Brien. Johnson’s experience and O’Brien’s obvious talent as part of the McLaren factory programme in competition with the never-give-up consistency of Fletcher and Plowman means that this battle is surely going down to the wire at Donington in September.
Track action for the British GT Championship grid gets underway at Brands Hatch at 09:30 on Saturday August 3 with Free Practice. The four qualifying sessions start at 15:05 later that afternoon with the lights going out for the two-hour race at 13:00 on Sunday August 4. This is a weekend of GT action not to be missed!