> 24-car field features new and returning race-by-race entries
> New strategic opportunities in Donington’s first three-hour race since 2011
> Entry list: Donington Park
A season-high 24 cars – 14 GT3s and 10 GT4s – will contest round four of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship this weekend at Donington Park (September 19/20) where several new race-by-race entries make their series debuts.
The 12-turn, 2.4873-mile GP circuit hosts British GT for the second time in five weeks but will have a different feel to mid-August when standard 60 and 120-minute races took place. Instead, a three-hour enduro introduces strategic opportunities usually reserved for the showpiece Silverstone 500 where at least three driver changes must take place, Success Penalties are served at the final mandatory pitstop, and a maximum drive time of 100 minutes per driver is enforced.
It also marks the first time that such a duration has been run by British GT at Donington since 2011 when 105 laps were completed.
GT3: SUCCESS PENALTIES IMPACT TWO OF TOP-THREE
Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell claimed their maiden GT3 victories at Brands Hatch to vault to the top of the standings heading into the second half of 2020. Barwell’s Black Bull-backed Lamborghini had been a model of consistency during the first four races before a Safety Car period presented an opportunity too good to pass up. The pair’s subsequent 16.5-point lead over Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala comes with the caveat of a 20s Success Penalty on Sunday, which could be potentially overcome with tactical nous and a turn of speed.
Their closest rivals, on the other hand, still await a first win of the season. And RAM Racing’s Silver Cup duo are unlikely to get a better chance than at Donington where James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien – currently third in the standings after finishing second at Brands – must also serve a 15s Success Penalty. By contrast the handicap-free De Haan and Kujala can also take comfort from finishing second in Donington’s most recent two-hour endurance race.
The same goes for WPI Motorsport who won Donington’s previous two-hour race with the help of Andrea Caldarelli. The Italian’s Road To Le Mans commitments mean the team and Michael Igoe are joined by another Lamborghini factory ace, Marco Mapelli, this weekend.
Adam Balon and Phil Keen will also hope to bounce back at Donington after circumstances conspired against their title challenge last time out. The duo’s non-score dropped them from first to fourth in the overall standings, 23.5 points behind their Barwell team-mates, and 14 adrift of Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman in the Pro/Am championship battle.
Team Parker will also be looking to recover from a tough outing at Brands Hatch. And where better than Donington, the scene of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern’s memorable win in August.
Several more Silver Cup contenders could also feature this weekend. Dean Macdonald and Angus Fender finished third on the road at Brands before a post-race penalty dropped them out of the points, while 2 Seas Motorsport’s other McLaren also looked like a podium contender before the Safety Car and a Success Penalty dropped them down the order. Both undoubtedly have the potential to deliver the team’s first win this weekend.
Optimum’s 720S, shared by Ollie Wilkinson and Lewis Proctor, starred in Donington’s second race earlier this year and shouldn’t be discounted either, while Steller’s new Audi makes its second appearance of the year with Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding. The team finished an encouraging sixth at Brands Hatch.
Elsewhere, a new Aston Martin makes its championship debut courtesy of Ultimate Speed whose Pro/Am pairing of Mike Brown and Matt Manderson made several race-by-race appearances with the previous-generation Vantage. Balfe Motorsport’s McLaren also makes the second of its three scheduled outings in the hands of Stewart Proctor and Joe Osborne who claimed pole position at Donington in August.
GT4: TOP-FOUR COVERED BY 11 POINTS
Few would have picked a reigning RGB Sports 1000 champion and Ginetta GT5 Challenge graduate to be leading the British GT4 standings at half-time in 2020. But that’s exactly where Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers find themselves with four races remaining.
That’s not to say HHC Motorsport’s pairing don’t deserve their lofty position. Far from it. But with an entry packing far more experienced British GT drivers and race winners the #57 McLaren wouldn’t have topped most lists as most likely to be leading at this stage of the campaign.
Winning Donington’s second race – a memorable comeback drive after starting from the pitlane – and converting the resulting 20s Success Penalty into another podium at Brands Hatch sees Bowers and Wesemael holding the narrowest of leads over Dan Vaughan and Jamie Caroline, while Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble lie another 4.5 points behind.
Of course, TF Sport’s Aston Martins would have been out front without the final lap shenanigans at Brands that saw #95’s afternoon end in the Paddock Hill gravel trap and #97 receive a penalty. But those travails also mean neither entry carries a Pitstop Success Penalty into this Sunday’s encounter when redemption could await one or both crews.
It’s a different story for Academy Motorsport’s Jordan Albert and Matt Cowley who must carry the heaviest handicap into Sunday’s race after winning at Brands Hatch. The pair’s impressive drive after starting eighth helped them climb to fourth in the Drivers’ standings – 11 points adrift of Wesemael and Bowers.
Behind, Speedworks will be desperate to finally convert their Toyota’s clear potential into a first British GT4 victory. Sam Smelt and James Kell have been there or thereabouts in every race this year but only have one podium – Donington’s two-hour enduro, as it turns out – to show for their efforts thus far. A Success Penalty-free outing this weekend should ensure the Supra features at the sharp end.
Meanwhile, Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen demonstrated just how costly even one non-score can prove by dropping from third to seventh in the standings as a result of their race-ending puncture at Brands Hatch. Expect HHC’s other McLaren to be back in the lead battle again this weekend.
Elsewhere, the Pro/Am entry is bolstered by former GT4 champion Warren Hughes and series debutant Jan Klingelnberg whose McLaren will be up against Balfe Motorsport team-mates Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey.
Luke Sedzikowski and David Whitmore also make their second appearance of the season in Tegiwa’s Century-run BMW after debuting at Oulton Park.
DONINGTON PARK TIMETABLE (BST)
Saturday 19 September
09:40 – 10:40: Free Practice 1
12:20 – 13:20: Free Practice 2
16:00 – 16:10: Qualifying – GT3 Q1
16:14 – 16:24: Qualifying – GT3 Q2
16:28 – 16:38: Qualifying – GT4 Q1
16:43 – 16:53: Qualifying – GT4 Q2
Sunday 20 September
09:35 – 09:50: Warm-up
12:45 – 15:45: Race
GT3 – 1m27.896s – Nicki Thiim – TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR – 2019
GT4 – 1m35.886s – Tom Canning – TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR – 2019
PITSTOP SPECIFICS – DONINGTON PARK
There are no pitstop windows. Instead, at least three driver changes must take place while no driver may exceed 100 minutes of drive time. Success Penalties must be served during the final mandatory stop.
Mandatory Pitstop Times (pit-in to pit-out)
GT3: 110s | GT4: 145s
Pitstop Success Penalties (based on Brands Hatch top-three)
20s – #78 Barwell Motorsport – Collard/Mitchell
15s – #2 Jenson Team Rocket RJN – Baldwin/O’Brien
10s – #6 RAM Racing – Loggie/Buurman
20s – #61 Academy Motorsport – Albert/Cowley
15s – Not competing
10s – #57 HHC Motorsport – Wesemael/Bowers
All GT4 Silver Cup entries must serve an additional 14s during their mandatory driver changes.