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Can Barwell’s Collard And Mitchell Consolidate Lead As British GT Championship Returns To Donington? (17.09.20)

The Intelligent Money British GT Championship makes it second visit of the season to Donington Park on September 19 – 20 for the Round Six and the first of two three-hour enduros that form part of the revised 2020 calendar.

24 entries will take to the grid at the iconic 2.498-mile, 12-turn, Leicestershire circuit, the highest car count that the premier UK domestic series has enjoyed so far in a highly challenging season.

14 cars will compete in the GT3 category, one more than the class grid in the previous round at Brands Hatch. Missing from the grid will be the #7 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 that team owner Andrew Howard and 2017 LM GTE Pro champion Jonny Adam drove to a ninth place overall finish and seventh in the GT3 Pro-Am class. The #Beechdean Aston Martin has been entered for three rounds in 2020 and will be seen next at Snetterton where Andrew Howard will be joined by Valentin Hasse-Clot.

Joining the GT3 grid at Donington will be the #26 Ultimate Speed Aston Martin in which Michael Brown will share the driving duties with Matt Manderson. Brown and Manderson will be competing in a 2019 AMR Vantage GT3 in which they recently entered into the Donington round of the GT Cup.

Balfe Motorsport returns with its #36 McLaren 720S GT3 piloted by Stewart Proctor and Joe Osborn. Stewart and Osborne are racing in selected rounds of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship in 2020 and finished in a solid fifth place overall in Race Two at Donington in August. The Pro-Am duo must be full of confidence as they return to the circuit and, hopefully, better weather conditions.

Michael Igoe must be getting comfortable with driver changes, having shared the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 with Andrea Caldarelli, Franck Perera and Dennis Lind in previous rounds. The Cheshire businessman will be joined by factory driver Marco Mapelli for Donington and must be confident, given that the last time the championship visited the circuit, the #18 Lamborghini won Race One.

In the GT4 class, a further Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 joins the grid with the #22 entry to be driven by Jan Klingelnberg and Warren Hughes in a Pro/Am partnership. With the sister #21 entry being the sole Pro/Am entry thus far in the championship, it will be interesting to see how the two Balfe McLaren GT4s compare in terms of pace over the course of Sunday’s three-hour contest.

Five races into the season, the #78 Barwell Motorsport duo of Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell lead the overall drivers standings on 90.5 points with the #69 RAM Racing pairing of Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala second on the table 16.5 points behind. Just six points behind De Haan and Kujala is the #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN pairing of Michael O’Brien and ‘World’s Fastest Gamer’ James Baldwin.

Winning last time out at Brands Hatch must give the Barwell pairing of Collard and Mitchell the belief that a title challenge is more than possible as they return to Donington but the #2 duo of Baldwin and O’Brien have shown flashes of brilliance in the opening three meetings and cannot be ruled out as potential race winners on Sunday.

After some assertive driving by the two TF Sport crews at Brands Hatch, Jamie Caroline and Daniel Vaughan now lie second in the GT4 drivers standings, the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 pairing just half a point behind the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren crew of Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers. While not subduing the natural competitive spirit of their drivers, TF Sport needs a level-headed approach from the #95 and #97 pairings if they want to leave Donington Park leading the category’s drivers standings.

Track action for Intelligent Money British GT Championship grid gets underway at 9.40am on Saturday September 19 with the first of two free practice sessions. The four ten-minute qualifying sessions begin at 4.00pm later in the afternoon with the lights going out for the three-hour endurance event at 12.45 on Sunday September 20.