Category Archives: SRO Series

TF Sport Win Interrupted British GT Opener

Reigning British GT Drivers Champion Jonny Adam brought home the #17 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage to win an incident-packed opening round of the 2016 British GT season at Brands Hatch.

Ginetta-stalwarts PMW Expo/Optimum took the GT4 class win with the #50 G55 GT4 driven by Mike Robinson, who brought the car home, and Graham Johnson.

On a day that enjoyed warmer and drier weather than that experienced for qualifying, Rick Parfitt Jnr. led the field from pole position in the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3. Parfitt drove a controlled first stint which saw him come under pressure from the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan driven by Jon Minshaw. Minshaw’s challenge faded 14 minutes into the race, however, when the car was retired due to suspension failure due to an earlier contact, much to the driver’s disgust.

Parfitt then appeared to have the race under control with his closest challenger, the remaining #6 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Liam Griffin, 13 seconds behind.

However a Full Course Yellow with one hour 26 minutes remaining in the race changed everything. The caution was brought out because of an incident which caused considerable damage to safety barriers in Sector 2 involving the #66 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Nick Jones, the #42 Generation AMR MacMillan Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 driven by Matthew Graham and the #8 Motorbase Performance Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Phil Dryburgh.

Thankfully no drivers were injured but damage to circuit furniture meant that the race remained under caution for over 40 minutes. This took the race through the pit stop window where the issues occurred.

By the time Parfitt brought the #31 Bentley Continental GT3 in for the obligatory driver change, his lead had reduced to just over one second. Further delay in the pit lane meant that Seb Morris rejoined the race in fourth position. Parfitt let his feelings be known in his post-race interviews.

After the driver changes had cycled through, the #33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Jonny Adam had the lead, a position he was not to relinquish when then race was finally halted due to a red flag with 20 minutes to go.

“Yes, I feel robbed, to be fair,” said Rick Parfitt Jnr in the post-race press conference. “The stint went well. The start went exactly as we wanted it to and I got my head down and kept the laps nice and tidy and I was able to build up a gap. Then it was all about maintaining it. I had target lap times. Then, of course, the Code 80 came into effect.”

“When the Code 80 started I had an over 10 second lead but by the time I pitted I had a one second sec lead. I think that needs to be looked into because it doesn’t work as far as I’m concerned because blatantly people were going faster. We absolutely weren’t. We have data to prove it so I think our lead was robbed and to add insult to injury the Maserati was parked at 45 degrees which didn’t enable us to get on to our fuel rig and they sat there with their door open.”

“So it was a catalogue of disasters,” continued Parfitt. “None of which were our fault. But I’ve got to draw positives. We came here looking for a top six so the fact that we got on the podium was absolutely amazing and the fact we brought a British marque back to a British championship and got pole position and dominated the first few minutes is a wonderful thing and it’s great to see Bentley back in British GT.”

Derek Johnston, who took them opening stint in the winning #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage, was clear where his team had found an advantage.

“We had a good start,” said Johnston. “The car was good. On the opening few laps it felt good on a heavy tank, the tyres were good (and) the brakes were good. We struggled with the brakes all weekend with the cold weather but I worked them hard on the out lap and they were really good and then half a dozen laps in I lost the rear end and it was really snatchy and on the ABS a lot. I thought I just need to hang on here.

“Five or six laps later the car came back to me and it felt really, really good,” continued Johnston. “By that time we were really pushing. I was the quickest on track at that time. The car was going great and then the accident happened and it’s all over, isn’t it. We were just chugging until the pit stops but we decided to stay out and run a bit longer and just see what happened. We just spun the dice and it worked in our favour.”

Jonny Adam was delighted with the win.

“When we came out of the pit lane it was a surprise because we decided to wait a little bit, make sure the pit lane was clear before we decided to pit and I think that worked really well, “ said Adam. “We got a nice clean pit stop. It’s nice to start the season with a good result for TF. We’ll just see how the season pans out.”

In GT4 the #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Anna Walewska was quickly overhauled at the start. Graham Johnson then established a lead in the #50 PMW Expo / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta which the maintained through to the end of the race.

Final Podium Positions:

GT3

1) #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by Jonny Adam and Derek Johnston.
2) #7 AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 GT3 driven by Joe Osbourne and Lee Mowle.
3) #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental by Rick Parfitt Jnr. and Seb Morris.

GT4:

1) #50 PMW Expo / Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Graham Johnson and Nick Robinson.
2) #73 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska
3) #45 RCIB INSURANCE RACING Ginetta G55 GT4 driven by Jordan Stilp and William Phillips.

British GT – Season Opener At Brands Hatch Preview

The 2016 Avon Tyres British GT Championship opens on April 17 with a two hour race to be held on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit.

For the 2016 11 teams have entered 15 cars in GT3 with seven manufacturers represented.

Aston Martin V12 Vantages are represented by two examples from TF Sport and one each from Beechdean AMR, Motorbase Performance and PFL Motorsport.

Reigning GT3 Drivers Champions Beechdean AMR return to the championship with a new driver pairing of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn, Gunn moving up the premier class for 2016. Motorbase Performance have reduced one entry in 2016, the #8 car, driven by Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie. PFL Motorsport, who are new to the championship, have entered the #5 car, with a driver pairing of team owner Peter Littler and recent signing Jody Fannin. The #11 TF Sport entry will be driven by Jon Barnes alongside his driving partner from last year, Mark Farmer. The #17 TF Sport car will be driven by 2015 GT3 Drivers Champion, Jonny Adam, along with experienced GT3 amateur driver, Derek Johnston.

Lamborghini are new to the championship and two Huracan GT3s are entered by Barwell Motorsport, GT3 Team Champions in 2015. Drivers for the #6 car will be Liam Griffin, Fabio Babini and Alexander Sims. The #33 car will be driven by Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw.

Team Parker Racing move up to the GT3 category on 2016 with the #31 Bentley Continental GT3. Rick Parfitt Jr, who drove for Team LNT Ginetta last year, and Seb Morris, fresh from the GP3 series with Status Grand Prix, will drive.

Essex-based AmDtuning.com move up from GT4 in 2015 to enter two BMW Z4 GT3s. Currently confirmed is the #7 car to be driven by the established partnership of Lee Mowle and driver Joe Osborne. Drivers for the #4 car are yet to be announced. Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing, fresh from its recent victory at the Silverstone 24 Hours, has also entered a BMW Z4 GT3, the #88 car being driven by Martin Short and Richard Neary.

McLaren is represented in GT3 by Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse with its factory-backed #79 McLaren 650S GT3, to be driven by Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell.

Tolman Motorsport is stepping up to the GT3 category this season, campaigning two Ginetta G55 GT3s. The #32 is piloted by Ian Stinton and Mike Simpson while the #56 is driven by David Pattison and Luke Davenport.

A single Audi R8 LMS Ultra is entered by Wakefield-based Optimum Motorsport. The professional pairing of Will Moore, who moves up to GT3 for 2016 and Ryan Ratcliffe will pilot the #14 car.

GT4 has enjoyed significant growth for 2016 and for the first time in the championship GT4 entries outnumber GT3s. 13 teams have entered 18 cars, not all for a full season however, and seven different manufacturers are represented.

Six examples of the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 are on the 2016 entry list. Beechdean AMR is entering two, the #407 car being driven by Jordan Albert and Jack Batholomew while the #408 is piloted by Jamie Chadwick and Paul Hollywood, the latter being entered for the final rounds of the championship.

Generation AMR Macmillan Racing has entered the #42 car to be driven by Jack Mitchell and Matthew Graham. Jamie Chadwick and Matthew George will partner in the #44 Generation AMR SuperRacing entry for the opening round, James Holder having business commitments elsewhere. The #47 JW Bird Motorsport AM V8 Vantage GT4 is driven by Jake Giddings and Kieran Griffin while Stratton Motorsport’s #71 car is piloted by David Tinn and Robin Marriott.

The popular Ginetta G55 GT4 has attracted five entries. Century Motorsport will campaign two G55 GT4s with Sean Byrne and Aleksander Schjerpen sharing the driving duties in the #40 while Nathan Freke and Anna Walewska pilot the #73. Optimum Motorsport with PMW Expo racing, Ginetta GT4 stalwarts, return with Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson sharing the #50 car. RCIB Insurance Racing, managed by Team HARD, will campaign two Ginetta G55 GT4s. Jordan Stilp and William Phillips share the #45 while Robert Barrable and Wilson Thompson drive the #75.

Bringing some further Italian glamour to the British GT paddock is Ebor GT who is campaigning a recently acquired Maserati Gran Turismo MC GT4. Presented in a striking white and fluorescent yellow livery, the #60 car will be driven by Abbie Eaton and Marcus Hoggarth.

Strengthening the GT4 field will be the McLaren 570S GT4. The #59 car will be campaigned by a factory-backed Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse and driven by Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell. Two teams were intending to present Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports at the first round of the championship but challenges with delivery by the manufacture have meant that Lanan Racing and Simpson Motorsport must look elsewhere for machinery for Brands Hatch.

Rounding out the GT4 entries are the #68 and #86 Toyota GT86 GT4s entered by GPRM. Only Stefan Hodgetts has been confirmed for the #68 car so far. Stratton Motorsport will also be campaigning a Lotus Evora GT4, the #70 car to be driven by Robin Shute and Willl Hunholz.

Qualifying sessions begin on Saturday April 16 at 17:05 and the lights go out for the start of the two hour race at 13:30 on Sunday April 17.

Turner Replaces Adam For First Round Of ELMS

Due to the first round of the European Le Mans Series coinciding with qualifying for the season opener of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, Beechdean Motorsport has substituted Jonny Adam with Darren Turner for the first round of the ELMS.

The race takes place on April 16 between 2.30pm and 6.30pm with qualifying for the British GT Championship taking place between 5.05pm and 5.56pm on the same afternoon. Adam will be driving the #17 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 alongside Derek Johnston in the British GT Championship.

“I am going to miss my fellow divorcee (in reference to Adam) but it is great to be racing back with Darren,” said team owner and driver Andrew Howard. “I raced with him in 2010 and look forward to learning from his vast experience in the GTE car.”

Darren Turner is also excited by the opportunity. “I am really looking forward to joining the Beechdean AMR team and driving with Andrew and Alex in the first round of the ELMS,” said Turner. “It is great to be back driving with Andrew after many years. The championship looks strong and it will be a hard fought race at Silverstone.

Adam has not commented on Beechdean’s decision. The team stated that Adam “will return to Beechdean AMR and ELMS later in the season”. The weekend of April 16 and 17 presents further interesting decisions as Adam is also entered in the #95 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage with Nicki Thim and Marco Sorenson in the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, also at Silverstone. The scheduled race times of the opening rounds of the British GT Championship and the World Endurance Championship on April 17 overlap and would not allow him to drive in both.

Stephane Ratel Announces Increased Manufacturer Interest in British GT

The 2016 British GT Championship was launched today at Media Day at Snetterton. Both Benjamin Franassovice, Championship Manager, and Stephane Ratel, SRO Motorsport Group Founder and CEO spoke about their satisfaction at the way the series has developed.
“Entry wise we’ve progressed quantities there,” said Franassovice. “The diversity is also there. We have some new machinery joining us in both classes. We‘re very excited. We have the Lamborghini returning to us with Barwell. We also have the Bentley GT3 car joining us with Team Parker. We have the return of Audi with Optimum Racing [and we’re] very happy about that and McLaren with Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse. We will have 15 to 16 cars in GT3.”

Franassovice continued: “In GT4 more new models are arriving. We have Ebor with the Maserati which sounds great out there. We have Porsche coming in with the Cayman. We have, just announced today, the McLaren GT4 which is extremely nice so we’re very excited to have this car in British GT and be the first [series] to race it. Overall we are looking good and we can’t wait for the first event at Brands Hatch.”

Stephane Ratel also expressed how pleased he was at the healthy 2016 grid: “Things are going quite well in British GT at the moment really thanks to Benjamin and the SRO team who are really doing a fantastic job. I think the British GT Championship is an amazing example of stability and success.

“We’ve been promoting it for many years and apart from a little dive for two or three years when the economy was in trouble it’s recovered and as is a very good series which has strong principles. The first one is that it’s a Pro-Am series where really a non-professional driver really has a chance to win and usually wins and I think that is the number one characteristic of this series.”

Ratel explained why GT4 grids are also increasing. “The British GT series has helped develop the GT4 category more than any other series in Europe and I think the presence of the McLaren’s new GT4 cars, which we believe will be followed by other manufacturers which are now looking at the GT4 categories, shows that we were on the right way and we were very happy. We see in Europe that a number of GT3 championships do suffer because it is maybe becoming more and more of an international category. So GT4 is the perfect second division and we are very happy with the success it has in the UK.”

The first round of the British GT Championship will be held at Brands Hatch on the 17th of April.