This year’s British GT Championship enters its final third at Snetterton this weekend where two one-hour races could go some way to deciding the 2016 GT3 and GT4 drivers’ titles.
The Norfolk venue’s 13-turn, 2.969-mile ‘300’ layout certainly has recent form given that Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn clinched the junior crown there 12 months ago. However, that’s the only time in series history that a British GT title has been decided at Snetterton.
Indeed, it’s also where 2015’s long-time GT3 points leaders Barwell Motorsport/Ecurie Ecosse stuttered, leaving the door ajar for Beechdean AMR’s Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard to clinch the crown one round later.
The shoe is very much on the other foot this weekend, though, when Adam and TF Sport co-driver Derek Johnston attempt to reassert their authority in a GT3 title scrap now featuring three crews covered by just 10.5 points. Meanwhile, Beechdean AMR’s Jack Bartholomew arrives as the aggressor eager to bridge his GT4 points deficit to PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s class leading pair of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.
But with 50 of the remaining 87.5 points up for grabs at Snetterton, there’s still every chance fresh contenders could emerge…
GT4: Johnson & Robinson aiming to emulate Chadwick & Gunn
For the second consecutive season the British GT4 title could be settled at Snetterton. 12 months on from Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn’s record-breaking crown it’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson’s turn to visit Norfolk at the head of the standings.
In fairness their chances of wrapping up the class title with a round to spare look a lot slimmer than the teenage duo’s did last season. While the Beechdean AMR crew enjoyed a 42.5-point advantage, Johnson and Robinson lead by a comparatively slender 17.5, 20 short of the total required to claim the title before Donington. And the likelihood reduces still further when factoring in their opening race 7-second success penalty for finishing as runners-up at Spa.
Nevertheless, with a total of 50 points available across both one-hour races, it’s not impossible that the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport crew could become the first Ginetta drivers to win a GT4 crown since Rick Parfitt Jnr and Ryan Ratcliffe in 2013.
Since then it’s been a Beechdean AMR and Aston Martin lock-out, a trend that Jack Bartholomew and his new co-driver - none other than Gunn - would dearly like to prolong in 2016. While a victory isn’t strictly necessary, scoring the full 25 points from at least one of Sunday’s contests would at least give his Ginetta rivals something to think about. Doing so would also make them the first V8 Vantage crew to win a British GT4 race at Snetterton.
Although this year’s title looks set to be played out between those two cars, just 6.5 points cover positions three to seven in the standings, any number of which could force their way into title contention this weekend.
Century Motorsport’s Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke currently occupy third overall, 39.5 points shy of top-spot. They’ll need to lower that deficit by two over the course of the weekend if they’re to travel to Donington’s finale with any hope of contesting the title.
Half-a-point further back lie the first of RCIB Insurance Racing’s contenders, Jordan Stilp and William Phillips, whose consistent approach has kept their mathematical hopes alive. Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton’s Ebor GT Maserati is next up thanks to a similarly stealthy season, while the winners of British GT’s last two races - Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and Joey Foster, and RCIB Insurance Racing’s Rob Barrable and Aaron Mason - also find themselves in the mix.
A Lotus Evora started on pole and won on ‘home’ ground last season, and one of the models returns to the British GT4 fold this weekend thanks to Stratton Motorsport, Richard Taffinder and Martin Plowman. Meanwhile, Bradley Ellis and Ade Barwick re-unite in a Ginetta, run by Simpson Motorsport.
BRITISH GT LAP RECORDS: SNETTERTON 300
GT3 1m50.398s Jonny Adam Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage 2015
GT4 1m59.458s Marcus Clutton ABG Motorsport KTM X-Bow 2011
BRITISH GT SNETTERTON TIMETABLE
Saturday 6 August
09:25 - 10:25: Free Practice 1
12:15 - 13:05: Free Practice 2
16:10 - 16:20: Qualifying GT3 Am
16:24 - 16:34: Qualifying GT3 Pro
16:38 - 16:48: Qualifying GT4 Am
16:53 - 17:03: Qualifying GT4 Pro
Saturday 7 August
09:30 - 09:40: Warm-up
11:50 - 12:50: Race 1
16:05 - 17:05: Race 2
PIT-STOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
10s - Farmer and Barnes (#11)
7s - Parfitt Jnr and Morris (#31)
10s - Reed and Foster (#51)
7s - Johnson and Robinson (#50)
5s - Graham and Mitchell (#42)
Click here to download the Snetterton entry list
PIRELLI TYRE INFORMATION: SNETTERTON
Jonathan Wells, Pirelli British GT race engineer, said: “Snetterton is a very different challenge in comparison to the previous circuit Spa-Francorchamps. Throughout the lap there is a good mixture of corners, meaning the tyres have to work under a range of conditions. For example, at the start of the lap, the tyres experience high speed on the pit straight, large lateral forces through the fast Turn 1 and then significant longitudinal forces under braking for the Turn 2 hairpin. In the races, a smooth surface usually means that the wear rates and degradation rates are low, so we can expect the closely matched crews and cars to battle hard for the entire race.”