Mark Lemmer believes his Barwell Motorsport squad is capable of defending its British GT3 Championship Teams’ title in 2016 following a positive start to pre-season testing.
The Surrey-based outfit won last year’s crown with its Ecurie Ecosse and Demon Tweeks BMW Z4s, and also narrowly missed out on the Drivers’ championship in controversial circumstances at the final round.
But after spending four years as an official BMW customer team Barwell has switched allegiance; 2016 sees it enter a pair of new-generation Lamborghini Huracan GT3s for the returning crew of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, while new recruit Liam Griffin is partnered by Fabio Babini and Alexander Sims.
Lemmer confirmed all five drivers had been involved in recent test sessions at Barcelona and this week’s visit to Valencia.
“We’ve only had two cars to share between our British GT and Blancpain crews so it’s been a bit difficult juggling everyone over a total of four days, but the bottom line is everyone’s had at least one full day’s testing,” he said.
“As a result we’ve not actually completed much proper development work since Sims and Babini worked on a base set-up on the opening day at Barcelona. It’s been more about getting everyone up to speed and in that regard we’ve made a lot of progress. It hasn’t taken long for everyone to feel comfortable in the car.”
Barwell's team principal believes one reason for that is a change of emphasis amongst manufacturers building new-generation GT3 machinery.
“There’s definitely been a shift to making these cars more drivable for the Ams,” he revealed. “They certainly have better straight-line speed, which helps bring the gentlemen drivers closer to the Pros in terms of lap time.
“Lamborghini has also been fantastic helping us to understand the car. We had an engineering crew from the factory alongside us in Barcelona, which saved a lot of time trying to figure things out! We enjoyed a very good relationship with BMW but the difference between a manufacturer involved in other high-level programmes and Lamborghini, whose GT3 project is their number one priority, has been interesting to see.”
With all of that in mind Lemmer is certain his squad is well set to defend the Teams’ crown it won in 2015.
“All of the ingredients are there for us to hit the ground running, but you need a lot of luck to get over the line, as we witnessed on the Drivers’ title front last season!” he added.
“But I do think we have a very strong line-up: Jon and Phil were fast straight out of the blocks in testing, while Liam also feels comfortable in the car. We know what those guys are capable of. Alex needs no introduction and Fabio has been the consummate professional. He might be a Lamborghini factory driver with an incredible CV but it’s been his decision to privately test at the British circuits he doesn’t know before we do. That says a lot about his commitment.”
Catch Barwell’s two Lamborghinis as well as Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Bentley and more battle it out at British GT’s Brands Hatch curtain raiser on April 16/17.