#DoningtonDecider Preview: GT4

#DoningtonDecider Preview: GT4

385 laps, 146 days, 21 winners and eight races after it began, the 2016 British GT Championship campaign comes to its conclusion this weekend at Donington Park (September 10/11), but not before its GT3 and GT4 champions have been crowned.


An entry list packing 29 cars will provide a fitting spectacle around Leicestershire’s 12-turn, 2.498-mile former GP venue where all eyes will be on who can finally snare this year’s titles. Plenty remains up for grabs: not only are the class championships on the line but also the GT3 Gentleman Driver, GT4 Pro-Am and GT4 Silver crowns, as well as both category’s teams’ accolades and, potentially, a little bit of British GT history, too.


All of which leaves just one question unanswered: who wants it most? 


GT4: Winner takes all in Johnson/Robinson vs Bartholomew battle


While GT3’s championship permutations are too numerous to list, the GT4 drivers’ title can be summarised as simply: winner takes all.


Well, just about…


With only 2.5 points separating leaders Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson from Jack Bartholomew, British GT’s scoring system covering positions first to ninth guarantees that whoever finishes ahead will be crowned 2016 champions.


And the battle couldn’t be more finely poised. Johnson and Robinson’s PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 has undoubtedly had the edge over the course of the season. However, the two DNFs that accompany the crew’s three wins have allowed the more consistent Bartholomew to remain a nuisance, a nuisance who has now become a serious threat following his victory and second place at Snetterton alongside outgoing GT4 champion Ross Gunn, who returns for a second weekend.


How this one plays out over the course of two hours is anyone’s guess, but - as in GT3 - pit-stop success penalties could be a defining factor. That victory in the second race at Snetterton will see Bartholomew’s Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage remain stationary five seconds longer during the mandatory driver changes this Sunday, raising the tantalising prospect of both crews fighting back through the field - and against each other on track - over the race’s final stint.


Beechdean AMR has been here before, of course. Indeed, a Bartholomew title would represent the team’s third consecutive British GT4 drivers’ crown. But Optimum are also no strangers to success and were the last team before Beechdean to win the class title, in 2013.


With the protagonists’ 20 and 15-second success penalties likely ruling both out of victory contention, the way should be left clear for another leading crew to step forward. And with just 20 points covering positions three to seven in the championship, the fight for third in the final reckoning will be fierce.


Lanan Racing’s Spa-Francorchamps winners Alex Reed and Joey Foster currently occupy the final step on the podium but will be held 10 seconds longer in the pits as a result of finishing third in Snetterton’s second race. That could open the door for RCIB Insurance Racing duo William Phillips and Jordan Stilp, and the Ebor GT pairing of Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton, both of whom are still searching for their first wins of the season.


Sandy Mitchell became British GT’s youngest ever winner in the opening race at Snetterton, and the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S he shares with Ciaran Haggerty should also carry a significant threat this weekend.


The season finale features a number of new and returning names, including the familiar pairing of Jamie Stanley and Fox Motorsport who are back for the second time this season along with karting protégé Sam Webster. Gavan Kershaw is also behind the wheel of a Lotus Evora - albeit a Stratton Motorsport/UltraTek example - as Tim Eakin’s co-driver. It will be the first time either has contested a British GT round since doing so at the same venue 12 months ago.


The GT4 teams’ title also remains undecided with RCIB Insurance Racing currently holding a 13-point lead over Beechdean AMR. Optimum’s single car operation is just 5.5 further back while Century Motorsport also retain an outside chance given the maximum 64.5 points still available for squads running two entries.


Elsewhere, Phillips and Stilp must win and hope Bartholomew finishes no higher than ninth if they’re to pinch the GT4 Silver Cup title, while Hoggarth and Eaton have to claim at least second to retain any chance of overturning their 26.5-point Pro-Am deficit to Johnson and Robinson.


Meanwhile, a record number of GT4 manufacturers are entered for this weekend’s British GT round, with no less than seven - Aston Martin, Ginetta, Lotus, Maserati, McLaren, Porsche and Toyota - due to compete. Six raced at Snetterton last time out.


Reserve your tickets of this weekend’s British GT #DoningtonDecider here, or watch the race live from 12:30 this Sunday on Motors TV.


GT4 championship permutations:

Current difference: Johnson/Robinson 142.5 > Bartholomew -2.5

  • Johnson/Robinson are champions if they finish ahead of Bartholomew.
  • Bartholomew must finish eighth or higher to win the title.
  • Bartholomew also wins the title by finishing ninth provided Johnson/Robinson don’t score.





GT3 / 1m29.273s / Benny Simonsen / Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 GT3 / 2015

GT4 / 1m37.298s / Gavan Kershaw / Stratton/UltraTek Lotus Evora GT4 / 2015





Saturday 10 September

09:40 - 10:40: Free Practice 1

12:20 - 13:10: Free Practice 2

16:15 - 16:25: Qualifying - GT3 Am

16:29 - 16:39: Qualifying - GT3 Pro

16:43 - 16:53: Qualifying - GT4 Am

16:58 - 17:08: Qualifying - GT4 Pro


Sunday 11 September

09:35 - 09:45: Warm-up

13:00 - 15:00: #DoningtonDecider






20s - Minshaw and Keen (#33)

15s - Johnston and Adam (#17)

10s - Mowle and Osborne (#7)



20s - Bartholomew and Gunn (#407)

15s - Johnson and Robinson (#50)

10s - Reed and Foster (#51)



Click here to download the Donington entry list




Jonathan Wells, Pirelli British GT race engineer, said: “Donington Park is a track with a similar fast and flowing nature to the season-opening track, Brands Hatch. The most famous section of the track is without doubt the Craner Curves which feature early in the lap. These high speed curves put a high level of lateral force through the tyres as the cars carve downhill to the Old Hairpin. Braking energy is highest at the end of the back straight, as the cars scrub off speed to enter the Esses. As is common with our tracks in the UK, the track is very technical, so needs to be driven very precisely to get the best from the car and tyres. We are expecting yet another strong performance from our DHC products and DH products over the course of the weekend, with our sights on yet another lap record for both classes.”