#DoningtonDecider: Anything less than GT4 title a disappointment - Bartholomew

#DoningtonDecider: Anything less than GT4 title a disappointment - Bartholomew

British GT4 championship challenger Jack Bartholomew believes anything less than winning the 2016 drivers’ title at this weekend’s Donington Park season finale would be a disappointment. 


The 17 year-old heads into Sunday’s two-hour decider 2.5 points behind Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson. Finishing inside the top-eight and one place ahead of the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta would therefore be enough for him to pinch the 2016 crown.


It would also see Bartholomew follow in the footsteps of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings, and Ross Gunn and Jamie Chadwick, who have collectively won the last two GT4 drivers’ titles aboard Beechdean AMR-run Aston Martins. 


But that weight of history will have no bearing on Bartholomew this Sunday. 


“Of course you start every season hoping to do well and certainly I couldn’t have been anywhere better than at Beechdean AMR given their breadth of experience and know-how when it comes to winning British GT titles,” he said. “However, the class has moved on and there’s a lot more talent than there used to be. So I would have been happy to finish top-three in the championship, and probably consider winning it an over-achievement, actually. 


“But now, looking at the position we’re in and season we’ve had, I’d be disappointed not to win it at Donington.”


An intriguing aspect of this weekend’s title battle could be the championship protagonists’ pit-stop success penalties. Victory at Snetterton ensures Bartholomew and co-driver Ross Gunn must serve the maximum 20 seconds, while Johnson and Robinson will be stationary for an additional 15 seconds after finishing as runners-up.


“We’re definitely at a disadvantage and it’s time we’ll have to make up on track at some point, but it’s actually a blessing in disguise,” reveals Bartholomew. “We would be leading the championship if they’d [Johnson and Robinson] finished further back at Snetterton but our success penalty difference would have also been much bigger. Imagine if they were racing without one while we tried to claw back 20 seconds on them and the rest of the field?


“So I actually see this as a positive. It’s the best scenario we could have hoped for before Snetterton. We know we have to finish ahead and that the difference is just five seconds. Yes, maybe we have to take more risks, but it’s also their championship to lose. You just never know how the race is going to pan out - there’s certainly more than just two cars out there! But I’ll certainly be trying my hardest to overcome some of that deficit before the pit-stops.” 


There is perhaps a perception that young single-seater drivers should have a competitive advantage when switching to the junior GT ranks. But Bartholomew disagrees, suggesting that it takes time to make the transition.


“Coming from single-seaters I think there was a lot of expectation on us at the start of the season, but there’s plenty to get your head around and it takes time to adjust,” he said. “For starters there’s nowhere near as much vision in a GT car compared with the single-seater, plus you have to work on a set-up that’s often a compromise between what you and your co-driver want. 


“Qualifying is also more demanding. The 10-minute sessions mean you only have two, maybe three laps to get the job done. You have to be on it from the start, which is a different philosophy to Formula 4 when you could go around for half-an-hour and keep finding time. That’s one thing I’d say to young drivers looking to make the switch: you can’t expect to just turn up and win.”


Motors TV will broadcast live coverage of British GT’s #DoningtonDecider from 12:30 this Sunday, while discounted tickets are also still available to buy in advance here. Adult prices start from just £12.60, while under-13s go free.