Beechdean AMR has confirmed it will add a second Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 to its British GT Championship line-up this season after announcing that Paul Hollywood will contest the second half of the 2016 campaign.
The celebrity chef, best known as one half of the judging panel on BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, continues with the double title-winning High Wycombe outfit after making his car racing debut in selected GT Cup and Britcar races last year. His exploits at the AMR Festival support race at Le Mans were also subject to a recent BBC documentary about Aston Martin.
Hollywood had been keen to contest a full season of British GT but, due to work commitments, has been limited to just the final three events. His first appearance will come at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium where the inclusion of the GT4 European Series in the same two-hour race could ensure as many as 40 class entries take the start.
The 50-year-old, who made his first public British GT appearance at Snetterton on Tuesday as part of the championship’s annual Media Day, primarily sees 2016 as an opportunity to gain further experience.
“Following my time in the GT4 last year, I am really excited to get behind the wheel and to be affiliated with a team like Beechdean who have dominated the sport over the last few years,” he said.
“I’m here to have a good time but also learn a lot. My work commitments make it difficult to pick up where I left off, but the team are so professional and push me really hard at every test to improve. Having the likes of Andrew [Howard] as the Am benchmark, if that’s really what you can call him, in the same garage gives me real motivation.
“British GT4 is definitely a step-up from what I’ve competed in before; the Pro/Am field is packed full of quality and drivers with a lot more experience than me. But only by testing yourself against the best can you ever improve and, as I said, that’s the number one priority for this season.”
Reigning British GT3 champion and team owner Andrew Howard believes British GT was the perfect choice for Hollywood.
“It is great to have Paul back with us this year,” he said. “The progression he made last year was excellent and we look forward to him developing in one of the most competitive GT championships in the world.”
Beechdean are expected to confirm Hollywood’s co-driver in the coming weeks.
Elsewhere, Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert are the Silver-graded driver line-up tasked with maintaining the team’s perfect championship-winning record since first entering the GT4 ranks at the start of 2014.
The opening round of this season’s British GT Championship takes place at Brands Hatch on April 16/17.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hollywood’s crash helmet features the same design as that of 1992 Formula 1 World Champion Nigel Mansell.