Category Archives: SRO Series

2016 British GT Champion Derek Johnston To Retire From Racing After Donington (13.09.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com

Derek Johnston who, with TF Sport and teammate Jonny Adam, won the 2016 British GT Championship GT3 Drivers Championship title, is to retire after the final round of the season at Donington Park.

Johnston has admitted that a little of the driving motivation that saw him take the premier GT championship title two years ago has left him and that, after selling his business, MSW (UK) Ltd, and retiring, he is content to step away from racing.

“There is more than one reason why I’m retiring,” said Johnston. “I’ve sold the business, retiring from MSW and I’m very happy with my life away from racing. I no longer have the fire in my belly and racing is now a chore rather than a pleasure. I think that’s worth half a second a lap.”

“I like John Gaw (Managing Director Motorsport at Prodrive), I like Aston Martin Racing, they’re a great organisation and TF Sport are just like family, ” continued Johnston. “I’ll miss them and it will be sad for sure at the end in Donington. TF are such good friends but I know I’ll stay friends with them all.”

“Derek Johnston was our first headline signing at TF Sport,” said Team Director Tom Ferrier. “As a driver he has evolved with us as a team and we are very happy to have helped him win the championship in 2016. Derek is a racer at heart and we will miss him!”

The final round of the 2018 British GT Championship takes place at Donington Park on Sunday September 23.

Johnson And Robinson Move Up To GT3 For British GT Season Finale (12.09.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com

2016 GT4 champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson have announced that they will race in the GT3 class for the season finale of the 2018 British GT Championship at Donington Park on September 23.

Johnson and Robinson will take over the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 650S GT3, previously campaigned in 2018 by Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell.

Johnson and Robinson are excited at the prospect of racing in the premier category, possibly preceding a move into the GT3  class for 2019.

“When you’ve spent almost four years watching, being overtaken by and drooling over GT3 exotica from the cabin of your GT4, it’s perhaps inevitable that one day the temptation to race in the top league will prove too much!” said Johnson.

“Everything fell into place for the guest appearance,” continued the 2016 GT4 champion. “Balfe had a McLaren GT3 going spare, and Mike and I can’t feature in the top-two of the GT4 championship for the first time since we started competing in British GT, so we’ve nothing to lose by jumping ship and everything to gain because, yes, we are evaluating GT3 with a view to potentially making the jump for the 2019 season.”

“We’re not expecting to be on pole at Donington but, at the same time, we’ve never turned up just to make up the numbers. As the race draws closer, Mike and I are like kids looking forward to Christmas Day, but when the lights go out, we’ll be looking for a decent result.”

Track action for the final round of the 2018 British GT Championship gets underway for FP1 at 09:40 at Donington Park on Saturday September 22 with the lights going out for the two-hour race at 13:35 on Sunday September 23.

Optimum Motorsport Wins British GT Appeal – Increases GT3 Drivers Lead By 10 Points (05.09.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Wakefield-based Optimum Motorsport has announced that it has won its appeal against a decision taken during the opening round of the 2018 British GT Championship at Oulton Park.

A 30-second post-race had penalty had been applied, dropping the driving duo of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adan from fourth at the chequered flag to ninth.

Team Principal Shaun Goff was delighted at the news.

“I’m very happy at the decision,” said Shaun Goff. “We never accepted this incident was anything other than a racing accident. We’re delighted with the outcome and now  we can look forward to a strong showing at Donington where we stand a good chance of taking the championship honours.”

The decision means that the Haigh and Adam enter the final round of the 2018 British GT Championship with a 27.5-point advantage over Jon Minshaw and Phil keen. Nothing less than a victory for the crew of the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 will now be sufficient for a shot at the drivers title.

Round 9 of British GT Championship takes place at Donington Park on September 23.

 

 

Ben Wallace To Promote Diabetes UK At Ormskirk Motorfest 2018. (22.08.18)

Ben Wallace, driver of the #88 Team HARD Ginetta G55 GT4 in the 2018 British GT Championship, will be appearing at Ormskirk Motorfest on Sunday August 26. Ben will be displaying his Ginetta race car at the Moor Street P2 area.

Ben, who has Type 1 diabetes, will be fundraising  for Diabetes UK at the event to promote the work of the UK’s leading charity for people affected by diabetes.

“The August Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect time to relax with family and friends and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than displaying my Ginetta G55 GT4 race car at the North-West’s biggest festival of motoring, Ormskirk Motorfest,” said Ben. “As an athlete competing at the highest level of national GT racing, I have been very grateful for the support of Diabetes UK and I am delighted to be able to join their fundraising at this prestigious event.”

“This year has been a busy one for me, combining my British GT Championship campaign with my driver-coaching work and studies,” continued Ben. “Planning my 2019 racing activities is now a priority for me and Ormskirk Motorfest is a fun and effective way to demonstrate how I work with my supporters.”

#88 a.a. 18.04.24

Photo: Ian Cutting

Diabetes UK is the leading UK charity for people affected by diabetes. From care and support to prevention, campaigning, fundraising and research, Diabetes UK is tackling the fastest-growing health threat in the UK.

Ormskirk Motorfest is organised and run by the Aintree Circuit Club and expects to welcome 30,000 visitors and have over 300 motor vehicles on display. Ben’s Ginetta will be on display next to, amongst others, a 7.6ltr Ultima GTR, an Aston martin DB11 V12 Coupe, a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus and a 1934 Austin.

The event opens at 11:00 on Sunday August 26 and is completely free to attend. The organisers advise that, if you are planning to attend, you use public transport (Merseyrail Electric direct to Ormskirk Town Centre) or, if coming by car, use the Classic Bus Park and Ride from Edge Hill University.

“I Think We’ve Hit The Sweet Spot” – President Of Aston Martin Racing David King Discusses GT3 And GT4 Development. (19.08.18)

Photo: astonmartin.com

President of Aston Martin Racing David King, speaking ahead of Round Four of the FIA World Endurance Championship, has indicated that the Gaydon-based manufacturer is pleased with the reception of the new Vantage GT3 and is looking to develop the brand in the key North American market.

“We’re deep into the customer testing now and have lots of orders,” said David King. “GT3 is a very competitive market place. There are lots of good offerings from all the manufacturers but I think there’s something special about racing an Aston. It’s a competitive car and good value for money. The outgoing car, the V12, is a fan favourite but I think the new car will be very exciting. The art of developing a GT3 car is to make it useable for the gentleman driver and still suit the professional driver as well. I think we’ve hit that sweet spot.”

The recent announcements by the SRO Motorsports Group concerning the development of the World Challenge in North America has offered Aston Martin an additional platform to present its products and David King is looking to take full advantage of the opportunity, as well as explore other US-based series .

“We aren’t fully exploiting the opportunities in North America yet and it’s no secret to say we are actively seeking a partner in North America to work alongside the Prodrive AMR team to help with the distribution and support of customer cars,” said David King. “Ideally as well (to offer support) to get an IMSA programme running for us. I’m talking about an aspiration rather than a plan at the moment but, yes, we’d like to race in GTLM in IMSA. It’s a massive market and a fantastic series and we’re not there yet.”

In addition to its presence in the British GT Championship and the Blancpain GT Series, Aston Martin would like to increase its presence in other European championships but not before the new GT3 car has been proven with customer teams in its existing markets.

“It’s more important in the first year that we don’t flood the market with cars when we’re not quite ready,” said King. “We want to place GT3 cars with a few key customer teams so they can go out and demonstrate how good the car is for us and then we can sell more in the second and third year. It’s about quality rather than quantity in GT3 in the first year. We need to see some strong teams running in Blancpain Endurance and British GT. ADAC GT Masters in Germany is important – we haven’t been represented there at all for a few years so we’d like to get a strong partner team in Germany as well.”

The new Aston Martin GT4 was presented at Le Mans this year but is not quite as far advanced in development as its sister GT3 car.

“The new GT4 is in development at the moment based on the new V8 Vantage and we’re not quite doing customer drives yet but we’ll be doing so fairly soon,” said David King. “GT4 is a massive market for us and it’s a very good way to link our road-car customers to racing and as an intro to racing and track days as well. We were first in to GT4 back in 2007 when SRO launched it so we’ve seen it grow and flourish. We’ll continue to play a big part in that.”

“Blancpain GT Is The Ultimate Goal!” Jetstream Motorsport’s Graham Davidson Talks British GT, Spa And Aston Martin With EnduranceandGT. (07.08.18)

Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

Graham Davidson, who, alongside teammate Maxime Martin, pilots the #47 Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage in the 2018 British GT Championship, took his first victory of the season at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 33-year old Aberdeen businessman first started racing in 2015 with no former experience in karts or single-seaters. As winner of the 2017 GT Cup Championship, Graham has set himself tough targets in his quest to become a leading amateur European GT driver. In an in-depth conversation with Endurance andGT.co.uk editor Andy Lloyd ahead of qualifying for Round Eight of the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch, Graham outlined his motorsport journey to date and discussed his thoughts for the future.

This conversation took place ahead of a horrifying incident during the two-hour race when an object pierced the windscreen of the #47 Aston Martin while Maxime Martin was at the wheel. Following comprehensive checks, both at the circuit and at hospital, the Aston Martin factory driver was declared uninjured, much to the relief of the series organisers, paddock and fans.

Firstly, many congratulations on your win at Spa. Did you anticipate, at that stage of the season, standing on the top step of the podium?

“It depends. If you asked the question at different points in the season, you’d have got a different answer. I think we went in to it optimistic because people have been very complimentary of my progress. I set a realistic target for the season of one win and a couple of times on the podium. Come May, at Rockingham, we were right at the front and should have won that race by a significant margin.”

“And then Snetterton again we went in confident and we put it on the front row at a circuit that I’m not strong at and made some great passes and overtakes but during the pit-stop the radio battery went flat and we couldn’t hear the controller. When he gave the order for Max to go, he couldn’t hear it so by the time everybody realised and started pointing and waving, we’d lost maybe three or four seconds. We finished second, though, which was fantastic. In race two we marched on through until I misjudged a braking point while watching the back of Jon’s car and just caught him enough to turn him so we didn’t come away with enough points from that. By Silverstone I was putting massive pressure on myself to really get this first win and show everyone I can do it. After a cautious start I had a coming-together with Mark and I came away with a penalty and a bent steering-arm. That ruined that race for us – again. I think by that point I was so deflated I started to question my own ability.”

“So we went to Le Mans for the Aston Martin Festival with no pressure – to just relax and enjoy it. Straight away we were doing sub-four-minute laps and doing really well. It was fun to drive that circuit and it was so enjoyable. The lap times were fantastic and just being there and being part of it was amazing.”

“I led a bit of the race then, sure as anything, the Vulcan of Chris Harris and Ross Gunn in the new GT3 car came out of nowhere and I didn’t even bother trying to defend. I tried to tag on to the back of them for a nice photo finish but I clipped a bollard at Tetre Rouge and had to do a lap on three tyres. I still managed to take the class win but, coming away from Le Mans, I felt a bit down. It was such a high that, with five weeks to Spa, I’d kind of buried my head in the sand and thought it’s not going to get better than that. So what do I do now? Do I do another season of British GT or where do I set my goals because it’s so unrealistic to think that I could end up at Le Mans.”

“I didn’t expect to be on the front row at Spa and I didn’t expect to win but it was a combination of a reasonably good lap from me and a great lap from Max that got us on the front row. My head was firmly screwed on at the start but, during the lap after the restart, I was blinded by cement dust and then I was all over the place. There was dirt in my eyes and I thought, “This is ridiculous.” I had a right word with myself as I crossed the start line on the next lap and then it all started to come together and my lap times dropped. I reeled in the Nissan and Ian Loggie really quickly and, just as I got to the back of them, Jordan Witt saved me the trouble and they came together and one spun, one went wide and I went up the middle. I thought that’s two done, two to go. I really got into it and started to push.”

“The next time round Flick was pointing in the wrong direction at Les Combes. All the while I have no radio contact – our radio’s failed so we’re going by pit boards. So I think I’m still in second place and there was a red Mercedes out in front somewhere and the guys are putting out the pit boards – 30, – 31 – 27 and I’m thinking: “Yes, I’m reeling him in!” When we get to the pit stop I jumped out the car and said; “Where are we? How far off is the Merc?” And everyone started laughing as Max fired off out of the pit lane. They said: “No, you’re leading! The Mercedes had a stop-and-go and you’ve been leading the race for 30 minutes!” I’m hunting a ghost that wasn’t there!”

“And then Max just did the job. He dealt with the safety cars and kept the gap to Ryan. It felt too easy. Standing on that podium, it didn’t feel deserved. I didn’t feel that I had a fight or challenged people. It was what people had been saying all year -just keep it clean and you’ll be all right. Do what Jon Minshaw does and keep it clean and you’ll collect points. So we did that and it paid off. Now we all know we can do it. The guys can do the pit stops, the fuel, tyres and I can do the driving. Max can do the driving. As probably the lowest budget team on the grid, we can these win these races. We’ve shown that, the pressure’s off and we’re going through these sessions relaxed.”

How has the driving partnership with Maxime Martin developed?

“It’s been quite interesting for both of us. Max has operated in teams for factories for a number of years now and is used to a system that is seamless and perfect. We’re the opposite of end of the scale and our team is growing and learning. Although I knew I had the pace, I think Max had to adjust to a low-budget team and the fact that he doesn’t know me from anyone. I had to prove to him that I could do it and earn his respect and it took a couple of weekends but at Rockingham I think he started to realise that we can win these races and we can be on the podium.”

“Between Max and Prodrive engineer Luigi, they have a huge amount of knowledge and feed me enough that we can put it on the front row and I can learn from that. And from my side as well, it’s the first year I’ve had an engineer and the first year of having a team mate, having driven on my own in the GT Cup and previous club racing. There has been a huge number of changes and it’s just been adjusting and learning as we go.”

“I think we’ve been very lucky to perform the way we have but it shows you can do it on a budget and that, to me, is very satisfying.”

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Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey Photography

What guided you to the choice of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage?

“Two things: firstly, the budget point of view. Aston Martin supports British GT so you have the trucks at the circuit with the spares packages. You have your own parts but you don’t have to carry the big bucks stuff. We’ve also got a lot of historical data and that was a big thing. If we were to do this next year with the V12, from a budget point of view we’d be in a great place because we’ve got lots of experience, lots of parts already and the tools. The mechanics know the car. It gives you a head start. It would be great to have a new car but you need all the spares and the learning process. It would be nice to have a year when we start on the front foot.”

“The other important factor was that my brother, who loves his Aston Martins, decided to buy this V12 GT3 race car. He didn’t know what he was getting himself in to so, when he realised, he said why didn’t I use it instead of swapping to a McLaren 650? I spoke to Aston Martin Racing and put together a plan. The car was great but it needed a fair bit of work to get it back up to spec. So it was a great way for us to do a season without huge investment.”

Will you be back competing in the British GT Championship in 2019?

“It’s probably the most likely outcome. I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see us back to do that again. I wouldn’t be either but almost every year I’ve taken a step on championship-wise whether I’ve done well or not so I keep learning. Now we’re at a place where we’ve achieved a huge amount – more than most would in that time. Max is delighted and he thinks that I seriously need to think about a European championship. There’s a few people who’ve said I wouldn’t be out of place in a Blancpain car, whether Am or Pro-Am, and that’s a great place to go and the ultimate goal, I guess..”

“I’m not done yet and I want to see how far I can get before I reach my talent limit and I’d like to think it’s in Europe. It’s just finding the best path there in a financially viable and sustainable way.”

The final round of the 2018 British GT Championship takes place at Donington on September 22 – 23.