Photo: Paren Raval
Welcome to the EGT Friday Sportscar Round-Up, this week coming from Autosport International at the NEC Birmingham where a significant announcement was confirmed on Thursday January 10 concerning a long-established name in the motorsport world.
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British GT Championship
Looking first at the British GT Championship, 2018 champions Optimum Motorsport this week announced that 22-year-old Jack Butel will be joining previously announced Connor O’Brien in one of the Wakefield-based team’s two new Aston Martin Vantage GT4s.
Butel, who drove LMP3s for Speedworks Motorsports in the Henderson Insurance BrokersLMP3 Cup Championship in 2017 and the 24H Proto Series – Championship of the Continents in 2018, is looking forward to testing the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 next month.
Photo: Optimum Motorsport / BritishGT.com
“It looks like it will be a really competitive and strong field,” said Butel. “I have already been talking a lot with Connor abut the season ahead and the approach we’ll be taking so it’s great we’re working closely together at this stage”
Butel will be driving the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 in the 24H DUBAI this weekend to gain more experience of the class.
“I’ll be getting plenty of GT4 seat time in the 24 Hours of Dubai and I can’t wait to begin testing the new Aston Martin, hopefully in February ahead of the media day,” explained Butel. “Every lap you gain in the off-season will help us in the season ahead so we’re hoping not too many Astons attend the media day!”
Photo: Team Parker Racing / BritishGT.com
Team Parker Racing, who took Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr to the 2017 GT3 is drivers title, has announced that it will campaign one, and possibly two, new Bentley Continental GT3s in the forthcoming British GT Championship.
With drivers yet to be announced, team manager Stuart Parker is looking forward to taking the new-for-2019 Bentley to the track.
“We are delighted to continue our close working relationship with Bentley,” said Stuart Parker. “The previous generation Continental GT3 was a proven race winner and we have fantastic memories of taking the British GT title with Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr in 2017. We’re all over the moon to be a part of Bentley’s 100th anniversary year and are looking forward podiums and race wins with the car.”
Graham Davidson, who finished seventh in the 2018 GT3 drivers standings, announced in December that he will be joining TF Sport for the 2019 season and partnering triple British GT champion Jonny Adam to drive the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
Graham Davidson is leaving nothing to chance this year and he spoke to EnduranceandGT editor Andy Lloyd about he and Jonny intend to prepare for a tltle-shot in 2019.
Photo: Graham Davidson
“Last year there was a lot of ‘I know I’m fast – I hope everything works out’ and sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t so we’ll try a more thorough, prepared approach this year,” explained Davidson.
“I think we can do it. I know we can. All the data suggests I can do it. It’s just practicing and listening to the guys that know best. It’ll be exciting and there will be a lot of new things for me to learn. I’ll just have to learn to sit back and enjoy it rather than trying to get involved and organise things. I can’t wait to get started working with Jonny in the simulator and have another drive of the car in the dry and see what it’s like at high speed at Silverstone or Donington or somewhere like that.”
You can read the full interview here.
And finally, in a week, that saw a lot of news for the premier national GT championship, Redhill-based TF Sport, who had previously announced that Alex Toth-Jones would be driving its new Aston Martin Vantage GT4, revealed that its driver line-up for the 2019 British GT Championship season will be Tom Canning, Patrick Kibble, Rory Collingbourne and Josh Price.
“We need to hit the ground running on our return to GT4 competition.” said TF Sport Director Tom Ferrier. “We have a clear objective and that is to win races and be in the position to challenge for the title with both cars. We’re delighted to have these four young drivers on board with TF Sport for the 2019 season.”
More news on TF Sport’s announcement can be found here.
FIA World Endurance Championship
Exciting news broke on the evening of January 9, which was subsequently confirmed by David Brabham, when the triple Le Mans winner and son of three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jack Brabham announced that he intended to take the Brabham name back to the international motorsport stage with an entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2021/22 season.
Brabham has set his company the goal of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Speaking at Autosport International on January 10, David Brabham explained that Brabham Automotive intends to produce 70 cars and is looking to develop a customer racing programme.
“Brabham’s DNA is in racing – we’ve had such incredible success,” said Brabham. “We’ve won championships as a brand so where is the next step for us? We want to take the Brabham BT62 to the road, and we want to go racing – we’ve just announced where we’re headed. There’s a lot of work to do and a big challenge in front of us but it’s an exciting journey at the same time.”
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship
The 2019 IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship got underway over the weekend of January 4 – 6 with a packed schedule, which included qualifying for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the opening round of the season and the first IMSA race of 2019, the Scouts of America IMSA Prototype Challenge.
Mazda Team Joest locked out the front row for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona with the Jarvis/Nunez/Bernhard/Rast-piloted #77 Mazda Dpi on pole with a 1:33.398 set by Oliver Jarvis. The sister #55 Mazda DP1 was .025 seconds behind with a 1:33.423 set by Harry Tincknell in the car he shares with Jonathan Bomarito and Olivier Pla. Qualifying third was the #7 Acura Team Penske Acura Dpi driven by Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi.
Pole position in the LMP2 class was set by the PR1 Mathiesen Motorsport ORECA LMP2 in which Gabriel Aubry set a 1:35.930. The #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R took pole in the GTLM class.
“The car was an absolute joy to drive,” said Mazda Team Joest’s Oliver Jarvis. “We ran it full qualy spec. I don’t think many of our competitors can say the same, but in that low-fuel configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to the limits and it’s what us drivers live for, that feeling of getting everything out of the car.”
This weekend sees racing from Thailand with the 4 Hours of Buriram, the third round of the 2018/19 Asian Le Mans Series and the 24H Dubai at Dubai Autodrome.
Whatever you’re doing and wherever you’re watching it from, have a great weekend.
The EnduranceandGT Team.