GT4 Preview: Pittard and Reed hoping to stop Tregurtha and Middleton from making history at Donington
> Tregurtha/Middleton enjoy healthy GT4 advantage over Reed/Pittard
> Three-way scrap for GT4 Pro/Am and Silver Cup honours
> Teams’ title also going down to the wire
> Entry list: Donington Park
The 25th British GT campaign comes to a close at Donington Park this weekend when new GT3 and GT4 champions will be crowned.
The 10th and final race of the 2017 season - a two-hour enduro around the 12-turn, 2.498-mile former GP venue in Leicestershire - is bound to be tense given the various points permutations in each class. To the winners, a maiden British GT title. To the losers, another year of what might have been.
GT4: MIDDLETON AND TREGURTHA’S TITLE TO LOSE?
While GT3 appears wide open, results last time out at Brands Hatch have made Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton firm favourites to win this year’s British GT4 Drivers’ title.
The class had been nip and tuck all year between the HHC Motorsport pairing and Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and David Pittard before a broken steering arm resulted in the latter non-scoring last month. A podium for their title rivals might have resulted in a 10-second pitstop success penalty to be served at Donington but that will be of little concern given the 25-point lead they now enjoy with a maximum 37.5 still available.
That ensures only first or second will suffice if Reed and Pittard are to have any chance of winning the title. And even then Tregurtha and Middleton would have to finish no better than sixth or 10th, respectively, for Lanan’s crew to overcome the biggest final event points deficit in British GT history.
The blue and white corner also enjoys better form with Tregurtha and Middleton yet to finish outside the top-four in any of the seven races they’ve completed. That record includes two victories and a further four podiums, three of which have come in the last three races. Maintaining that run, or even dipping slightly below their recent standards, will see them become the youngest line-up ever to win a British GT title at a combined 35 years and 160 days, 167 fewer than Ross Gunn and Jamie Chadwick.
But, just like GT3, this year’s overall class champions might not necessarily claim the Silver Cup spoils. Reed and Pittard trail Tregurtha and Middleton by 16 points, and they’re the same number clear of Macmillan AMR’s Jan Jonck and William Phillips who claimed a maiden victory at Brands Hatch. A second in as many races - despite the full 20-second success penalty - would mathematically give them a chance of Silver Cup glory.
Two Silver Cup crews might be challenging for this year’s overall title but Pro/Am has also been incredibly competitive and, arguably, stages GT4’s most intriguing championship showdown at Donington.
Tolman Motorsport’s David Pattison and Joe Osborne head the class after making it back-to-back Pro/Am wins at Spa and Brands Hatch, but after also finishing second overall in GT4 at the latter they’ll be serving a 15-second pitstop success penalty. That could open the door for PMW Expo/Optimum Motorsport’s reigning champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson who are 8.5 points behind despite struggling since switching from Ginetta to McLaren mid-season.
The other Pro/Am title contenders, Adam Balon and Adam Mackay, have endured an especially tough time since winning the blue riband Silverstone 500 in June. Just one points finish in three outings ended their overall class title hopes, but expect the track-club McLaren to be a contender this weekend as it looks to overturn a 16-point Pro/Am deficit and cement third in the GT4 standings.
Elsewhere, Black Bull Garage 59’s Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell have endured a season of ups and downs but at least have an opportunity to end on a high note at a venue where they claimed fastest lap and victory 12 months ago. And it’s a similar story for Brands Hatch pole-sitters Academy Motorsport, whose Aston Martin won at Donington two years ago.
The GT4 Teams’ title will also be settled this weekend, and incredibly a single-car entry could score enough points to beat one with two. HHC Motorsport lead the way courtesy of Tregurtha and Middleton’s 155 points, 18.5 more than Black Bull Garage 59’s two-car line-up. Lanan Racing also remain in contention but, just like their Drivers’ title aspirations, must also rely on others for a favour.
2016 Teams’ champions Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing cannot defend their crown but do welcome last season’s GT4 Pro/Am runner-up Abbie Eaton who makes her first appearance of the season alongside Jake Giddings.
Watch British GT’s #DoningtonDecider live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, this Sunday afternoon. Coverage begins with Mini Challenge’s first race at 12:35 before the main event at 13:30.
TYRE INFORMATION - PIRELLI
Pirelli supplies the GT3 class with the P Zero DHD tyre, which was introduced at the start of the 2017 season for GT racing around the world. The GT4 class uses the P Zero DH tyre. In the event of rain, both classes will use the Cinturato WH wet-weather tyre.
Jonathan Wells, Pirelli UK motorsport manager: “Donington Park provides a similar challenge to Brands Hatch with a fast and flowing layout. The high-speed Craner Curves at the beginning of the lap place large lateral demands on the tyres, while the biggest braking forces come into the Esses at the end of the back straight. With the championship finely-poised in GT3 in particular, getting the most from the tyres in the two-hour race will be crucial.”
LAP RECORDS - DONINGTON PARK GP
GT3 - 1m28.233s - Jonny Adam - TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - 2016
GT4 - 1m37.298s - Gavan Kershaw - ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4 - 2015
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
20s - #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 - Parfitt Jnr/Morris
15s - #6 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - Griffin/Tordoff
10s - #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Farmer/Barnes
20s - #42 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 - Jonck/Phillips
15s - #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 - Pattison/Osborne
10s - #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 - Tregurtha/Middleton
DONINGTON PARK SCHEDULE
Saturday 23 September
09:40 - 10:40: Free Practice 1
12:30 - 13:30: Free Practice 2
16:25 - 16:35: Qualifying - GT3 Am
16:39 - 16:49: Qualifying - GT3 Pro
16:53 - 17:03: Qualifying - GT4 Am
17:08 - 17:18: Qualifying - GT4 Pro
Sunday 24 September
09:35 - 09:45: Warm-up
13:30 - 15:30: Race