The British GT Championship makes it annual overseas visit to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps for Round Seven of the 2019 season over the weekend of July 20 – 21.
40 cars will be on the grid in Belgium for Sunday’s two-hour race, 15 in the GT3 category and 25 in a packed GT4 entry.
Changes in the GT3 entry include the return of Adam Christodoulou to the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to drive alongside Richard Neary. Christodoulou had to miss the previous round at Donington Park due to commitments at the Nürburgring with Tom Onslow-Cole occupying the driving seat for Round Six at Donington.
An addition to the GT3 grid will be the #37 M2 Competition Aston Martin AMR GT3 to be driven by Tony Quinn and Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner. The team, established in 2010 to contest the Toyota Racing Series in New Zealand, has recently opened a European base Brussels from which it is running its Formula Renault Eurocup campaign.
British-born expat Tony Quinn is looking forward to racing at the iconic Belgian circuit.
“I’m incredibly excited to race at Spa-Francorchamps,” said Quinn. It’s one of those ‘bucket list circuits’ that a driver like me, who’s based on the other side of the world, doesn’t get many opportunities to compete at.”
Missing from the GT3 entry list at Spa is the #99 Beechdean Aston Martin with the driver line-up of team owner Andrew Howard and Marco Sorensen. Howard and co-driver Ross Gunn will be competing at the Barcelona round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup over the same weekend.
The GT4 entry list sees some interesting changes, not least of which is the addition of Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT driver Andy Priaulx to join fellow guest driver Sir Chris Hoy in the #19 Multimatic Motorsports Europe Ford Mustang GT4. The addition of the three-time World Touring Car Champion will see Priaulx Senior pitted against Priaulx Junior with Seb Priaulx driving the sister #15 Ford Mustang GT4 alongside teammate Scott Maxwell.
Maxwell and Priaulx Junior have enjoyed a highly successful season to date in the British GT Championship and currently lead the GT4 Drivers Championship and GT4 Silver Cup Drivers Championship from HHC Motorsport’s #57 McLaren 570S GT4 pairing of Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon. The #15 crew have an 8.5 point advantage over the HHC Motorsport drivers.
There will be a change of car for the #61 Academy Motorsport entry. The team’s Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 chassis was badly damaged in a start-line incident at the recent GT4 European Series meeting and the team has opted to campaign a McLaren 570S GT4 for Ben Hurst and Micah Stanley.
Balfe Motorsport’s #21 crew of Mia Flewitt and Stewart Proctor return for their third outing in the British GT Championship in their McLaren 570S GT4. The pair have enjoyed a solid start to their British GT careers with finishes at Silverstone and Donington.
Missing from the Belgian grid will be the #32 Track Focused KTM X-Bow GT4, driven by Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper. However, joining the GT4 grid at Spa will be the #52 Alfab Racing McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Erik Behrens and Daniel Ros.
The driver line-up for the #44 Invictus games Racing Jaguar F-TYPE SVR GT4 will see Steve McCulley step in for Paul Vice.
In the #58 HHC Motorsport McLaren Ruben Del Sarte replaces Tom Jackson to drive alongside Luke Williams.
In the GT Marques #88 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, Brent Millage will replace Chris Car.
The battle of the top of the GT3 drivers standings is close with the two Barwell Motorsport entries fighting for the top spot. Heading the table after Donington Park are Adam Balon and Phil Keen, teammates in the #72 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, who are currently on 104 points, 8.5 points ahead of the sister #69 entry, piloted by Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker.
The Leatherhead-based team has enjoyed a successful and consistent first half of the season. With the exception of Silverstone, neither of the Barwell Lamborghinis has finished outside the top five with the #72 crew enjoying two wins (both at Snetterton) along with second, fourth and fifth place finishes. The #69 pairing have taken one win, one second place, one third and tow fourth-place finishes on their way to a points tally of 95.5. With 37.5 points on offer to the winner at Spa, Round Seven could be crucial in deciding the 2019 GT3 drivers champion.
TF Sport’s Graham Davidson and Jonny Adam, however, are very much back in the GT3 championship after a win for the team’s #47 Aston Martin AMR GT3 last time out at Donington Park. With a feeling that a jinx has been lifted from the shoulders of Davidson and Adam, the Redhill-based team will travel to Spa confident that the momentum gained in Round Six can be maintained in the Ardennes.
Aberdeen-based Graham Davidson, who enjoyed his first British GT win in Belgium in the Jetstream Aston Martin, is looking forward to taking the fight to the Lamborghinis at Spa.
“We’re still in it, which is a great feeling’” said Davidson. “The win at Donington keeps us right in the title hunt and the aim is to be the leading Aston Martin heading into the final stages of the season. We know it will be tough but I’m looking forward to returning to Spa where I won last year. We have the success penalty to deal with of course but we’ll still be aiming high with the aim of being on the top step of the podium once again.”
In the GT4 Silver Drivers Championship, Optimum Motorsport’s Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis, drivers in the #96 Aston Martin, have a 5.5 point lead over Team Parker Racing’s Ryan Ratcliffe and Glynn Geddie, drivers of the #7 Bentley Continental GT3. The duo from the Wakefield-based team have taken four class wins and a second place against the Team Parker Racing’s crew’s two wins, two seconds and a third.
Both Wilkinson and Ellis are looking forward to the challenge of the iconic Belgian circuit.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Wilkinson. “Spa is my favourite racetrack and to be getting to drive there is certainly very exciting. The car and team have shown good pace there in the past so we will be looking to claim our first British GT victory!”
Bradley Ellis said:
“I’m excited to be racing at such an iconic racetrack. Spa always holds big challenges for the drivers and cars and I’m looking forward to tackling them. Ollie and I had a strong result at Spa last year in the GT Open championship so I hope we are able to replicate that success this year in British GT.”
In the GT4 class the #15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang has been competitive and, with the exception of Round One at Oulton Park, consistent throughout the season. Priaulx Junior and Maxwell have enjoyed two wins, at Oulton Park and Donington, alongside a second and fifth-place finish. As with the GT3 battle, Spa could well be the race that gives the Anglo-American pairing the edge for the remainder of the season.
Track action for Round Seven of the 2019 British GT Championship gets underway at 09:00 local time on Saturday July 20 with Free Practice and qualifying starts at 15:10 local time.
The lights go out for the two-hour race at 12:30 local time on Sunday July 21. Live streaming, for the first time for the Championship from Spa-Francorchamps can be found at GT World on YouTube..