Hello and welcome to the April 26 edition of the EGT Friday Sportscar Round-Up, this week brought to you in association with Student Motorsport. Founded in 2011 by JP Latham, Student Motorsport is a network, website, resource and organiser of collaborative projects designed to help young people take the right path to success and help them stay focused on their motorsport aims and future careers. Read more about Student Motorsport and how you, as an industry professional, educational institution or student, can become involved here.
In this week’s packed edition, we review the opening weekend of the 2019 British GT Championship season and the opening rounds of the FFSA Championnat De France GT4. We also look forward to this weekend’s action at VIRginia International Raceway and Rounds Three and Four of the Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
British GT Championship.
The 2019 British GT Championship got under way at Oulton Park, Cheshire over the Easter Bank Holiday Weekend of April 20 -22.
A packed grid of 35 cars were entered for the opening weekend at the iconic ‘old school’ 4.307 km Cheshire circuit with 14 cars representing seven manufacturers in the GT3 class and 21 cars on the GT4 grid, again representing seven manufacturers.
In 2018 the Easter weekend was wet and cold with the second race of the day being red-flagged after very few laps due to the treacherous track conditions. In contrast, 2019 saw what must have been one of the hottest UK Easter weekends on record and the British GT grid enjoyed perfect on-track conditions throughout the meeting.
Ian Loggie, at the wheel of the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with Callum Macleod, took pole position for race One, lapping .597 seconds quicker than Ryan Ratcliffe in the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3.
The GT3 Pro qualifying session saw Phil Keen in the #72 Barwell Motorsport Huracan GT3 Evo take pole position, nearly half a second quicker than Callum Macleod in the #6 Mercedes.
Multimatic Motorsports dominated the first of the GT4 qualifying sessions with Scott Maxwell topping the class time-sheets in the #15 Ford Mustang GT4, .103 seconds quicker than teammate Jade Buford in the sister #19 car.
It was the second GT4 qualifying session, however, that showed the true pace of the Ford Mustang when Seb Priaulx put the #15 car on pole for Race Two with a 1:42.384, beating the previous GT4 lap record of 1:42.394. Priaulx was 1.146 seconds quicker than Scott Malvern, at the wheel of the #66 Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, who would start alongside the young Channel-Islands-based driver on the GT4 grid for Race Two.
The pace of the Ford Mustang GT4s did not go unnoticed by the series organisers and a performance adjustment was made ahead of race day.
The racing over both rounds was fast and furious with 2017 GT3 champions Rick Parfitt Jnr and, crossing the line, Seb Morris, taking the win in Race One, finishing 3.266 seconds ahead of the #72 Barwell Motorsport Huracán driven by Adam Balon and Phil Keen. Oliver Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis, teammates in the #96 Optimum Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT3 completed the overall top three.
In the GT4 class, the performance adjustment for the Ford Mustang GT4s ahead of race day appeared to be effective and the dominance displayed in qualifying by the Multimatic Motorsports entries did not translate into the race. As it was, McLaren filled the podium positions with the HHC Motorsport entries taking first and third, the win going to the #57 McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Callum Pointon and Dean Macdonald and third place being taken by the sister #58 entry piloted by Tom Jackson and Luke Williams. The #4 Tolman Motorsport 570S GT4, crewed by James Dorlin and Josh Smith, was second.
The full EGT race report can be found here.
Race Two saw a maiden championship win going to the #69 Barwell Motorsport Huracan GT3 Evo, driven by Sa De Haan and Jonny Cocker with De Haan, in only his second season of British GT Championship competition, crossing the line 4.505 seconds ahead of Richard Neary, at the wheel of the #8 team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shared with Adam Christodoulou.
The final overall podium position was taken by the #99 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 driven by team owner Andrew Howard and Aston Martin factory driver Marco Sørensen.
The GT4 category also saw a maiden win, this time for Seb Priaulx, driving the #15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 he shared with Scott Maxwell. Michael O’Brien and Graham Johnson in the #20 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S Gt4 were second with the #44 Invictus Games Racing Jaguar F-TYPE SVR GT4 taking the final podium position, Steve McCulley and Matthew George the drivers.
The full EGT race report for Race Two can be found here.
After the first two rounds, Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker lead the GT3 drivers standings on 37 points, sevcen ahead of Adam Balon and Phil Keen. Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris sit third in the standings on 27 points.
Barwell Motorsport lead the GT3 teams standings on 67 points, 35 points ahead of Century Motorsport.
The drivers standings in the GT4 category see a four-way tie for the lead currently with Dean Macdonald, Callum Pointon, Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx all on 25 points, two ahead of Steve McCulley and Matthew George.
If the racing at Oulton Park is a taste of things to come for the 2019 British GT Championship, we are in for a highly competitive season and the next round at Snetterton on May 18 – 19 should not be missed.
FFSA Championnat De France GT4
Rounds One and two of Two of the 2019 FFSA Championnat De France / GT4 France took place at Circuit Paul Armagnac, Nogaro on April 12 -22. 44 cars were entered with 27 entries in the Pro-Am category, 16 in the Am class and one GTC entry.
The #36 CMR Alpine A110 piloted by Stéphane Lémeret and Pierre-Alexandre Jean took a double-victory, finishing 2.075 seconds ahead of the Fabien Michael / Gregory Guilvert-crewed #42 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi R8 LMS GT4 in Race One. The #8 Speed Car Alpine A110 GT4 completed the overall podium positions for the first round, driven by Robert Consani and Benjamin Lariche.
Victory in the Am class went to the #10 AGS Events Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR crewed by Nicolas Gomar and Julien Lambert.
#36 pilot Stéphane Lémeret was delighted at the win.
“This is a perfect weekend for a successful return to the French FFSA Gt Championship,” said Lémeret. One again, I want to salute the quality of Pierre-Alexandre’s work. He made a beautiful start before managing the car perfectly during his stint. His level of maturity and involvement is simply amazing and I cannot wait to meet him again in Pau!”
Race two saw the same first two finishers with the Lémeret / Jean Alpine beating the Michal / Guilvert Audi to the line by 4.993 seconds. The sister #111 CMR entry completed the top three with Ruy Servol and Stéphane Tribaudini taking the chequered flag nearly 17 seconds back.
Lémeret and Alexandre took maximum points from Nogaro and lead the drivers standings by 14 points from Fabien and Gregory.
The #22 K-Worx Ginetta G55 GT4 pairing Pascal Huteau and Valentin Simonet lead the Am drivers standings on 43 points, three ahead of the #10 AGS Events crew of Nicolas Gomar and Julien Lambert.
The FFSA Championnat De France now moves to Circuit de Pau-Ville on May 17 – 19.
Blancpain GT World Challenge America.
The Blancpain GT World Challenge America grid moves to VIRginia International raceway for Rounds Three and Four of the 2019 championship.
17 cars are entered for the two 90-minute races. Missing from the VIR entry from the entry list for Circuit of The Americas is the #6 US RaceTronics Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Steve Aghakhani and Richard Antinucci, the #31 TR3 Racing Ferrari F488 GT3 piloted by Wei Lu and Jeff Segal, the #71 P1 Motorsports Mercedes crewed by JC Perez and Maxi Buhk, the 8 Vital Speed Motorsports Ferrari of Rich Baek and Trevor Baek , the #14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 and the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari of Pierre Mulacek and Anthony Lazzaro.
Matt Campbell replaces Dennis Olsen behind the wheel of the #91 Wright Motorsports Porsche.
Four drivers lead the overall drivers standings with the #3 K-Pax Racing crew of Rodrigo Baptista and Maxime Soulet sharing the lead with R.Ferri Motorsports #61 crew of Miguel Molina and Toni Vilander all on 37 points. K-Pax Racing’s Andy Soucek and Alvaro Parente are one point behind.
Martin Barkey and Kyle Marcelli lead the Pro-Am standings on 40 points while Martin Fuentes and Ceasar Bacarella head the table in the Am Cup drivers championship.
Qualifying begins at 10:35 local time (15:35 UK time) on Saturday April 27 with the lights going out for Race One at 14:10 local time (19:10 UK time) later in the afternoon.
With season now in full swing, we have sportscar racing this weekend from the following:
VLN 3 at the Nurburgring:
Saturday April 27: Qualifying: 08:30 local
Race: 12:00 local (4 hours)
ADAC GT Masters at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben:
April 27: Qualifying: 08:55 local
Race One: 13:05 local
April 28: Qualifying: 09:10
Race Two: 13:05 local
Wherever you are and whatever your plans, the EnduranceandGT team wish you a very happy weekend.