Preview: Another strategic battle in prospect as British GT descends on Donington

Preview: Another strategic battle in prospect as British GT descends on Donington

+ 38 cars confirmed for Round 4
+ Entry list: Donington Park

British GT makes the first of two visits to Donington Park this weekend when 38 cars tackle the championship’s second – and final – three-hour endurance race of the season.

Round 4 comes hot on the heels of the Silverstone 500 where victory propelled Shaun Balfe and Adam Smalley (Garage 59) to the top of GT3’s overall standings, while Jack Brown and Zac Meakin (Optimum Motorsport) are in hot pursuit of GT4 leaders Mikey Porter and Jamie Day (Forsetti Motorsport) after winning their class last time out.

The 38 cars – split 20/18 in GT3’s favour – represent all 36 full-season entries plus two more race-by-race contenders, both of which are also eligible to score points.

Just like Silverstone, the 180-minute, 3x pitstop format presents strategic opportunities unavailable in one and two-hour races. Swapping drivers after just one lap is not uncommon in the right conditions, which can lead to jumbled up races that keep fans guessing right up until the closing stages.

The Monaco Grand Prix prevents Sky Sports F1 from broadcasting Donington live. But SRO’s GT World YouTube channel will, as always, show qualifying, warm-up and the race as they happen, while advanced tickets are available until 4pm this Thursday at


Garage 59’s McLaren appeared to be heading for a top eight finish with a little under one-third distance to run at Silverstone. But fast forward 60 minutes and Shaun Balfe and Adam Smalley were the latest recipients of the RAC Trophy, which was first awarded for a 500-mile race at Brooklands in 1932.

Their win owed something to Safety Car timing, but also eschewing the popular decision to pit early in the rain-hit opening laps. Drive-time was therefore on their side at the business end of the race when Smalley battled Marcus Clutton, Jann Mardenborough and Sam Neary for victory once the established front runners pitted under racing conditions.

However, winning British GT’s big one was also suitable reward for a Silver-Am driver combination that enjoyed a very solid start to the season at Oulton. Consistency is always paramount in this championship, and Garage 59’s crew have been exactly that so far.

Just two other GT3 combinations have scored points across the first five hours of racing, and it’s no surprise to see both in the early top-four. One of them, Rob and Ricky Collard (Barwell Motorsport), have picked up double digit scores in all three races, something only Balfe and Smalley have also managed. The other, Ian Loggie and Phil Keen (2 Seas Motorsport), scored two podiums at Oulton.

Between them is the other Barwell Lamborghini shared by Alex Martin and Sandy Mitchell. They were on course for a probable podium at Silverstone – and a likely increase in their erstwhile championship lead – until a racing incident with Optimum’s McLaren triggered the Safety Car that turned the race on its head.

Nevertheless, they – unlike Balfe and Smalley – now race without Compensation Time on Sunday when Silverstone’s podium finishers must remain stationary for an additional 20, 15 and 10 seconds during their third and final mandatory driver changes. Century’s championship-winning charge somewhat overshadowed Mitchell’s own brilliant performance at Donington last year when he won alongside Balfe, so it’s fair to assume the same Lamborghini will be at the sharp end this time, too.

Those pitstop handicaps also affect Team Abba’s Richard and Sam Neary, who scored a fine second place at the 500, and Garage 59’s other McLaren of Morgan Tillbrook and Clutton who finished fourth on the road but scored points for third place.

Meanwhile, the ‘extra’ entry – J&S Racing’s Audi – is in fact one that has featured at the first two events. It is also due to appear at Spa and British GT’s second visit to Donington later this year.

Elsewhere, and after racing together at Oulton, the Buncombe brothers will do so again with RJN following Simon Watts’ accident at Silverstone. His injuries, although not serious, will take time to heal fully, preventing him from racing until Snetterton at the earliest.


This year’s GT4 battle is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent memory. And that’s no mean feat given what’s gone before in the not-too-distant past.

Brown and Optimum – with more than a little help from Meakin – won their second Silverstone 500 in succession to turn up the heat on fellow Silver class and overall title rivals Porter and Day. 2.5 points separates them at the top of the standings, and both also have Compensation Time to serve on Sunday afternoon.

That leaves the door ajar for this year’s top performing Pro-Am crews, Charles Dawson and Seb Morris (Team Parker Racing) and Marc Warren and Will Orton (Forsetti), who have no such success handicap nor the extra pitstop time or ballast that help to align Silver and Pro-Am performance. Both can be particularly telling in the longer races where three driver changes play into the Pro-Ams’ hands. Here, Compensation Time for the championship’s top two represents the cherry on top of the icing.

What’s more, Parker’s Mercedes-AMG is just six points off the summit after dropping two places to third after Silverstone. But that was always likely to happen given the swings and roundabouts nature of GT4’s pitstop regulations. Donington is very much Dawson and Morris’ opportunity to hit back.

Warren and Orton, meanwhile, have some ground to make up but can bounce right back into overall contention with a podium. They are the only crew in the top four not to have won a race yet but undoubtedly have the potential to do so. Indeed, Forsetti’s new Aston Martins – which occupy first and fourth – have been a permanent feature at the front since debuting at Oulton.

Another British brand, Lotus, scored its first British GT4 podium since 2016 last time out thanks to Ian Duggan and Gordie Mutch, who also recorded the fastest qualifying lap on Saturday. That result leaves them fifth overall but with the caveat of serving 10 seconds extra at their final pitstop on Sunday.

Erik Evans and Marco Signoretti have, like the five crews ahead, scored points in all three races to date. But while their haul is 39 fewer than Porter and Day, Evans in particular knows the significance of scoring consistently across this season. Doing so kept him and Matt Cowley in title contention last year before a scintillating performance at Donington helped Academy’s duo seal an unlikely championship success.

That was the previous generation Mustang’s third win in as many years at the venue, the second of which featured Signoretti. Can the new-for-2024 model extend Ford’s recent legacy there still further?
The aforementioned Pro-Am combinations will be tough to beat across the three hours, but so too will Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley who won on British GT’s first visit to Donington last year. They and Century team-mates Ravi Ramyead and Charlie Robertson are tied on points towards the bottom end of the top-10 and due a good result.

The class’ only change concerns the #56 Ginetta, which continues to feature Freddie Tomlinson and Stuart Middleton but is now entered and run by DTO Motorsport. The same team oversaw Josh Rowledge and Aston Millar’s title challenge last year, while Tomlinson and Middleton qualified second on their first appearance of the season at Silverstone.


Thursday 23 May
10:45 – 11:40: Test 1
13:30 – 14:15: Test 2
16:05 – 17:00: Test 3

Saturday 25 May
09:40 – 10:40: Free Practice 1
12:15 – 13:15: Pre-Qualifying
16:00 – 16:10: Qualifying 1 (GT3)
16:14 – 16:24: Qualifying 2 (GT3)
16:28 – 16:38: Qualifying 3 (GT4)
16:43 – 16:53: Qualifying 4 (GT4)

Sunday 26 May
09:40 – 09:55: Warm-up
13:00 – 16:00: Race


GT3 – 1m24.977s – Euan Hankey – RACE LAB McLaren 720S – 2023
GT4 – 1m32.863s – Charles Clark – Optimum Motorsport McLaren Artura – 2023


Three driver changes must occur during the three hours. There are no pitstop windows but each driver cannot exceed 100 minutes cumulative drive time. Any Compensation Time accrued at the previous event must be served during the final mandatory pitstop.

Mandatory Pitstop Times (pit-in to pit-out)
GT3: 115s | GT4: 145s

Pitstop Compensation Time
20s – #59 Garage 59 McLaren (GT3) + #90 Optimum Motorsport McLaren (GT4)
15s – #88 Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG (GT3) + #7 Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin (GT4)
10s – #77 Garage 59 McLaren (GT3) + #20 Mahiki Racing Lotus (GT4)

All GT4 Silver Cup entries must serve an additional 12s during their mandatory driver changes and carry 25kg of ballast.