Oulton Park GT4 preview: 21 set for season opener
> Entry list: Oulton Park
After seven long months of dark nights normal service resumes at Oulton Park this weekend when the British GT Championship awakes from its winter hibernation for its traditional springtime supercar season opener.
A 35-strong entry list comprising 13 GT3s, 21 GT4s and one GTC is scheduled to tackle a pair of hour-long races on Easter Monday. Amongst them are 10 former overall title winners, two reigning champions and 58 more hopefuls eager to etch their name on British GT’s roll of honour come season’s end.
GT4: 21 SET FOR SEASON OPENER
Sure, we say it every year, but GT4’s Class of 2019 might genuinely be the best yet! And with Jack Mitchell graduating to GT3, a new Drivers’ champion is guaranteed.
Century Motorsport began its ultimately successful Drivers’ and Teams’ Championship assault by claiming two podiums in Cheshire last season. Its BMWs are on parade again this weekend when British GT debutants Mark Kimber, Angus Fender and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke, plus the returning Jacob Mathiassen, attempt to follow in Mitchell’s footsteps.
As in GT3, it’s Aston Martin that holds the numerical advantage with seven new V8 Vantage GT4s on the 21-car entry. Its big hitters include Beechdean AMR’s Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman who will be amongst the favourites for this year’s Overall and Pro/Am crowns, 2016 champion Mike Robinson and 2018 title contender Patrik Matthiesen who are paired in one of Optimum’s two entries, and TF Sport which joins the class for the first time since finishing second in the 2014 Drivers’ Championship. Academy Motorsport, which has also upgraded from the previous iteration Aston, completes the British manufacturer’s assault.
McLaren’s 570S has won at Oulton in each of the last two years and should be amongst the front-runners again this season thanks to a mix of stability and fresh blood. Tolman Motorsport came within a whisker of winning both the Drivers’ and Teams’ Championships last season and return with another two-car effort again featuring McLaren Driver Development Programme members.
HHC certainly know how to win a British GT4 title and will count race-winners Callum Pointon and Dean Macdonald amongst its ranks this term after switching from Ginetta, while Balfe’s 570S is crewed by 2016 champion (and three-time Oulton Park race winner) Graham Johnson plus McLaren Driver Development alumni Michael O’Brien.
Ford hasn’t featured on a British GT entry list since 2011 but that all changes at Oulton when three of its Mustangs arrive at once. Two are entered by the same team tasked with designing and building them, Multimatic Motorsports, who – in a change to previous billing – have paired American duo Jade Buford and Chad McCumbee in the second of its entries. RACE Performance bring a third for ex-BTCC racers Sam Smelt and Aron Taylor-Smith.
There’s also two Mercedes-AMGs on the entry list, both of which feature unchanged team and driver line-ups. Team Parker’s Nick Jones and Scott Malvern won Oulton’s rain-shorted second race en route to 2018’s Pro/Am title, while class rivals Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst begin their second season with Fox Motorsport.
The Jaguar F-Type is also back in the familiar hands of Steve McCulley and Matthew George, Invictus Games Racing hoping a single entry will help them focus on extracting greater performance from the supercharged fan favourite.
And what about Track Focused’s KTM, which makes its championship debut at Oulton? Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper shared the same car last season but face a step up in class this weekend when the Austrian manufacturer makes its first British GT appearance since 2011.
Two previously listed entries won’t attend Oulton, although both are expected at Snetterton. GT Marques’ Porsche was only ever scheduled to join from round two, while Steller Performance continues to evaluate its plans.
Both British GT races will be shown live on the championship’s Facebook page and website, plus SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, on Monday 22 April.
A selection of support races will also be shown live on the britishgt.com/live throughout the day.
OULTON PARK TIMETABLE
Saturday 20 April
09:30 – 10:30: Free Practice 1
11:40 – 12:40: Free Practice 2
15:15 – 15:25: Qualifying – GT3 Am
15:29 – 15:39: Qualifying – GT3 Pro
15:43 – 15:53: Qualifying – GT4 Am
15:58 – 16:08: Qualifying – GT4 Pro
Monday 22 April
09:00 – 09:10: Warm-up
11:15 – 12:15: Race 1
15:35 – 16:35: Race 2
GT3 – 1m34.624s – Callum Macleod – Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental – 2017
GT4 – 1m43.674s – Luke Davenport – Tolman Motorsport Ginetta G55 – 2015
Success penalties (based on Race 1 results and only applicable in Race 2)
1st 10sec | 2nd 7sec | 3rd 5sec
Minimum pitstop times (pit-in to pit-out)
GT3: 70s | GT4: 105s
All Silver Cup-entered GT4 cars will serve an additional 14 seconds and carry 15kg extra ballast.