GT4 #DoningtonDecider preview: five into one just won't go!
> GT3 and GT4 titles up for grabs
> 32 cars across all classes
> Entry list: Donington Park
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. After 375 laps lasting 13 hours spread across eight races and six rounds the 26th annual British GT Championship boils down to 120 more minutes at Donington Park this weekend (September 22/23) when the GT3 and GT4 Drivers’ and Teams’ title winners will be crowned.
The 12-turn, 2.498-mile former Grand Prix circuit has seen it all before, of course, for this year’s edition will be the seventh in succession and 10th in total that British GT’s season finale has taken place at the Leicestershire venue. So who holds all the aces, and which crews are in search of a miracle? Step right this way…
GT4: FIVE INTO ONE JUST WON’T GO!
That five crews travel to Donington with a chance of winning the title says everything you need to know about the continuing rise of GT4. Indeed, never before have so many pairings – five – featured in the class’ season showdown.
Century Motorsport’s remarkable first year with BMW sees both of its M4s sit atop the Drivers’ standings ahead of the final round, while Nathan Freke’s squad are also 30 points clear of Tolman Motorsport in the battle for Teams’ supremacy.
Of those behind the wheel, it’s Jack Mitchell who currently leads team-mates Ben Green and Ben Tuck by 10 points. And while that doesn’t sound like very much, the latter duo’s 15s success penalty makes beating the current leader and their other handicap-free title rivals an even taller order at Donington.
In truth, both would be worthy champions given their fast and consistent campaigns. Mitchell’s two maximum points victories at Silverstone and Spa, plus two more podiums, have been achieved with no less than three different co-drivers, while Tuck/Green’s approach has been built on constant accumulation featuring particularly eye-catching comebacks at Snetterton and Brands Hatch.
Consistency has also been key to Callum Pointon and Patrik Matthiesen who remain the only crew to have scored in every race this season. The Ginetta duo must overturn a 13.5-point deficit if they’re to emulate HHC’s outgoing champions, Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha.
Completing the title challengers are two pairings desperate to claim their first wins of the season. Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg have been there or thereabouts all year long and would be closer to Mitchell were it not for a tough outing at Brands Hatch. As it is Tolman’s lead McLaren finds itself 23 points behind the #43 BMW, ensuring only first or second will suffice this weekend.
Likewise Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones whose non-score at Brands Hatch came at the worst possible time. A remarkable string of four consecutive mid-season podiums means they still travel to Donington with an outside chance of claiming the crown, although doing so will require nothing short of victory if they’re to negate a 31-point deficit. At least history suggests they should be competitive: the pair claimed pole position at the same circuit 12 months ago while Academy’s Aston Martins finished one-three there in 2015.
Next up in the overall standings are two crews going head-to-head for this year’s Pro/Am crown. A thrilling battle at Brands Hatch now sees Team Parker Racing’s Nick Jones and Scott Malvern sit just three points clear of UltraTek Racing’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman, whose third place overall last time out has earnt them a 10s pitstop success penalty at Donington.
The rest of GT4’s entry also features several changes and fresh faces. Oulton Park race winners Adam Balon and Ben Barnicoat return, albeit aboard a Balfe Motorsport-run McLaren, after missing Brands Hatch; Ciceley Motorsport make their British GT debut with David Fairbrother and Adam Morgan, and the second UltraTek Racing Nissan is also back for the first time since Silverstone.
However, damage sustained in a GT Cup accident means Fox Motorsport’s Mercedes-AMG won’t be seen again until 2019, while HHC Motorsport have also withdrawn their #50 Ginetta.
Watch British GT’s #DoningtonDecider live on the championship’s website and Facebook page from 13:35 this Sunday.
Saturday 22 September
09:40 – 10:40: Free Practice 1
11:50 – 12:50: Free Practice 2
15:45 – 15:55: Qualifying – GT3 Am
15:59 – 16:09: Qualifying – GT3 Pro
16:13 – 16:23: Qualifying – GT4 Am
16:28 – 16:38: Qualifying – GT4 Pro
Sunday 23 September
09:35 – 09:45: Warm-up
12:30 – 13:00: Pitwalk and driver autograph session
13:35 – 15:35: Race
GT3 - 1m28.233s - Jonny Adam - TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - 2016
GT4 - 1m36.753s - Joe Osborne - Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 - 2017
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
20s - #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Haigh/Adam
15s - #69 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - De Haan/Cocker
10s - #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Farmer/Thiim
20s - #501 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 - Johnson/Robinson (not competing)
15s - #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 - Green/Tuck
10s - #53 UltraTek Racing Team RJN Nissan 370Z GT4 - Fletcher/Plowman
TYRE INFORMATION – PIRELLI
Pirelli supplies the GT3 class with the P Zero DHD2 tyre, which was introduced at the start of the 2018 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: “We are looking forward to another exciting British GT Championship decider at Donington Park. The circuit is similar in nature to the venue of the previous round, Brands Hatch. It is a fast and flowing track, something best demonstrated by the Craner Curves early in the lap: high-speed bends that subject the tyres to high lateral forces.”