As the opening weekend of the 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship approaches, EnduranceandGT.co.uk looks at the GT3 grid with a view to spotting championship favourites from amongst the high quality entries for the premier domestic series.
With 14 cars representing six different manufacturers, the 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship GT3 grid will offer some exciting and competitive racing.
Lamborghini is the most popular marque in the senior class for the new season. Barwell Motorsport has entered two Huracan GT3s. 2020 GT3 champion Sandy Mitchell, who won the title alongside Rob Collard, is partnered with Adam Balon in the #1 entry. Balon first entered the British GT Championship in 2015 in the GT4 class and returned for a full season in the category in the 2017 season before graduating to the GT3 class in 2019. The co-founder of Innocent Drinks finished as runner-up in the 2020 GT3 Pro-Am standings with teammate Phil Keen and returns for 2021 with Barwell Motorsport and the reigning GT3 champion for his third season in the senior category.
Barwell’s second GT3 entry is a another Pro-Am entry, this time partnering Leo Machitski with Dennis Lind. Danish pilot Lind began his career in Formula Ford Denmark and won the 2016 Lamborghini Super Trofeo World Final in 2016 and the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia – GT3 class with Andrea Caldarelli’s FFF Racing Team by ACM in 2018. The Dane has made previous appearances in the British GT Championship, having partnered Michael Igoe in the WPI Motorsport entry in the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Lind joined the Lamborghini Factory Driver programme in 2019 and has stood on the British GT Championship podium once – finishing third at Silverstone in 2019.
Leo Machitski began his driving career in the British GT Championship in 2006 and has competed with Barwell Motorsport since 2014. The 38-year-old Russian pilot won the Am Cup class at the 2018 Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2018 and finished third in the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup in the Pro-Am category.
WPI Motorsport’s #18 Pro-Am Lamborghini entry sees Michael Igoe returning for his third season in the British GT Championship but, for 202,1 partnered by factory driver Phil Keen. In 2019 Igoe finished 7th in the overall GT3 drivers standings and 6th in the Pro Am rankings and last season finished 3rd in the Pro-Am standings after a season which saw him take his first victory alongside factory driver Andrea Caldarelli at a wet Donington Park.
For 2021, a partnership with Phil Keen, one of the most successful British GT drivers of all time and a man hungry for his first domestic title after finishing as a runner-up on three previous occasions, makes this a partnership to watch.
The fourth Lamborghini is entered courtesy of Simon Green Motorsport where Lucky Khera and Ross Wylie join forces to pilot the #24 entry in a Silver/Am partnership. Khera won the Ferrari Challenge UK – Trofeo Pirellii in 2020, driving the Greypaul Birmingham 488 Challenge Evo. Wylie first contested the British Gt Championship in 2014 when he took the GT4 class championship at the wheel of the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin GT4 challenge entry alongside Jake Giddings.
Khera and Wylie have had several outings in this year’s GT Cup Championship in preparation for their British GT season and will certainly be contenders for the GT3 Silver-Am crown at the season’s end.
The two McLaren 720s GT3s entered for 2021 will be racing in different categories. The Balfe Motorsport entry will see father-and-son duo Stewart and Lewis Proctor contest the Silver-Am category. Proctor Sr is a graduate of the Pure McLaren GT Series and had selected outings in the British GT Championship in 2020 whilst his son Lewis Proctor has been racing since 2018 when he joined the McLaren Driver Development Programme, driving the #6 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 to 7th place in the Silver standings with teammate Jordan Albert.
The second McLaren 720S GT3 comes from a team making its first appearance in the British GT Championship – Enduro Motorsport. The #77 Pro-Am entry will be piloted by Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton.
The three Mercedes-AMG GT3s on the grid have a fascinating combination of drivers. In the #6 RAM Racing entry, the sole Pro-Am entry of the trio, Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman will return for their second season as a driving partnership and will be looking to build on their overall fifth place in last season’s GT3 drivers standings. Scots driver Loggie has already got 2021 off to a good start with victory in the Hankook 6H Abu Dhabi driving alongside Anteres Au and Chris Froggatt.
Yelmer Buurman needs little introduction as a Mercedes-AMG factory driver with championship wins in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and the 24H Dubai amongst the many highlights on his lengthy CV.
The second father-and-son duo on the GT3 grid, that of Richard and Sam Neary, will join forces again in the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes. The duo have already got off to a flying start in 2021 with three wins in the 2021 GT Cup Championship. Sam Neary is growing in confidence as a GT pilot and with the benefit of his father’s many years’ experience, the distinctive green entry will surely be competing for podium finishes throughout the season.
RAM Racing has a second Mercedes on the entry list, this time in the Silver-Am category, for Sam De Haan and James Cottingham. De Haan, in only his fourth year of GT3 competition, has finished runner–up twice in the overall GT3 drivers standings – in 2019 with Johnny Cocker and in 2020 with Patrick Kujala.
Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman had intended to launch their GT3 adventure in 2020 but circumstances delayed their plans until 2021 when they will contest a full season in the #11 JRM Bentley Continental GT3. Nick Jones and Scott Malvern won in the Bentley in 2020 but not without some challenges so it will be interesting to see how the co-owners of Paddock Motorsport come to grips with the Continental GT3.
2021 sees the return of the celebrated partnership of Beechdean AMR owner Andrew Howard and four-time British GT champion Jonny Adam. Howard and Adam have won the GT3 title before, in 2015, and after a one-off outing in 2020, will be keen to challenge for title honours. Double Le Mans class winner Adam is renowned as one of the best driver coaches in the business and already the duo have spent time in the simulator in preparation for the opening round. Expect to see some fireworks with Adam back behind the wheel for the full season.
Ultimate Speed’s Aston Martin will be on the grid for Brands Hatch after Mike Brown and Matt Manderson decided to make selected appearances in the championship. The teams switched to the new Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 last year and are looking forward to competing in the new Silver-Am category.
Two Porsches complete the senior grid – the #33 G-Cat Racing entry of Shamus Jennings and Greg Caton and the #66 Team Parker Racing entry from Nick Jones and Scott Malvern.
Jones and Malvern finished 12th in the GT3 drivers standings last season after taking victory at Donington. Struggling to get comfortable with the Bentley Continental GT3, the duo have switched to the Stuttgart marque this season and are looking forward to building on their successes from 2020.
G-Cat Racing’s driver pairing of Shamus jennings and Greg Caton will compete as the sole Am/Am partnership on the grid and have entered for the first half of the season.
Where will the 2021 champions come from? The pairing of Howard and Adam in the #7 Beechdean Aston Martin looks very strong but Loggie and Buurman will be looking to build on previous successes. Phil Keen will also be hungry to clinch that first domestic title with Michael Igoe. For me? Don’t bet against the double Le Mans winner!
It looks set to be another fantastic season as the Intelligent Money British GT Championship gets underway at Brands Hatch on Saturday May 22.