British GT4 Silver Cup champion and class runner-up Jack Bartholomew says his 2016 success has helped open doors within wider GT racing circles.
The Beechdean AMR driver went into last Sunday’s final round at Donington Park with a chance of also winning the overall GT4 drivers’ title but eventually lost out to Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson after a poor start and fading brakes limited his and co-driver Ross Gunn’s challenge.
Nevertheless, running at the sharp end, winning twice and claiming a title in his maiden season hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“100%, it’s opened up options for 2017,” revealed the 17-year-old. “Teams in Britain and Europe have definitely taken notice. They know British GT4 is a tough class to win, so if you can run consistently near the front I guess your name starts getting mentioned more. We’ve spoken to a few people but next year’s plans are still very much up in the air.”
One of those could be sticking with Beechdean AMR, albeit as part of the former championship-winning squad’s proven Aston Martin GT3 programme.
“I’ll be testing the car at Snetterton at the end of September, partly to round off our season together but also to see how I handle the step-up,” he said. “The team are great and I’ve had a lot of fun with them this year, but it’s just a taster for now.”
Bartholomew admitted to feeling disappointed about missing out on the overall title but that his Silver Cup triumph - achieved against the most Silver-graded crews and teenagers in British GT4 history - was something worth cherishing after a season of ups and downs.
“We started the year hoping to finish in the top-three, but when you arrive at the final round with a decent shot at the title you’re bound to feel disappointed if it doesn’t happen,” he said.
“But it’s also not been the easiest first season of GT racing. Losing Jordan [Albert] as my co-driver after Spa was a shock and, for a while, left me wondering whether we’d be able to complete the championship. Mentally, that was tough. It also takes time to make the transition from single-seaters to something with a roof because there’s a lot less vision.
“So it’s definitely nice to have something to show for my efforts at the end of it all. The Silver Cup is full of young, talented guys starting out in sportscar racing like me, so to beat them over a full season is very satisfying.”