James Cottingham joins two-time Intelligent Money British GT Championship runner-up Sam De Haan aboard RAM Racing’s second Mercedes-AMG at Brands Hatch next weekend (May 22/23).
Currently a one-off entry, the Silver-Am duo – one of five now entered for Round 1 – will use the two-hour season-opener to assess the potential for further appearances later this year.
Cottingham, an experienced historics racer, is more used to handling classic Ferrari 250s, Jaguar E-types and Ford GT40s at the likes of Goodwood and Le Mans than he is modern GT cars. In fact, Brands represents one of the 37-year-old’s first competitive GT3 outings and his maiden British GT appearance.
“I’ve been thinking about getting involved with British GT for a while, but the right opportunity never really came along because I’d been so busy with historic racing,” he said. “But I was talking with Sam recently and he suggested I come and have a go in the RAM Mercedes as he thought we might make a solid driver pairing, and I loved the car from the first moment I drove it.
“I had my first run at Silverstone recently and the Mercedes felt great. It was wet in the afternoon, which limited my mileage somewhat, but it did at least give me a chance to get used to two of the luxuries of modern racing cars – ABS and traction control – which you certainly don’t get to enjoy in historic cars!
“I’ll be straight into it at Brands Hatch as there’s not time for another test beforehand, so it will be a weekend of learning and working with Sam and the team at RAM to see how close I can get to the pace during what will be a very limited timeframe before the race. But I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a bit of a toe-in-the water for both myself and Sam, so we’ll see how we go at Brands, and then have another conversation after the weekend.”
De Haan, on the other hand, joined RAM at the start of 2020 as British GT’s reigning Pro-Am champion. Graduating to the Silver Cup ranks resulted in him matching the overall runner-up spot he also achieved in 2019 before embarking on a full-season Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS campaign alongside reigning British GT champion Rob Collard at the start of this year.
“In truth, British GT wasn’t part of my original plan for this year, but I’ll never turn down the chance for an extra race outing!” he admitted. “Plus, British GT is a great championship to be a part of.
“I’ve known James for a while now, and I know how good he is in historic cars, so I think he will adapt well to a modern GT3. Judging by his first run at Silverstone, he won’t take too long to get up to speed with the Mercedes. The British GT field looks very competitive this season, but we know we have a great car and a great team behind us. Brands Hatch will be a bit of fun for us, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be pushing for a strong result.”
The duo’s bright pink Mercedes-AMG joins RAM’s only marginally more subtle sister car shared by reigning Pro-Am champions Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman next weekend.
“I’m really happy to welcome James to the team, and to have Sam back as part of our British GT plans,” added RAM Racing team principal Dan Shufflebottom. “I know the two will gel well as a pairing and both are quick and consistent drivers in their own right. James may face a learning curve due to his limited testing in GT3 cars, but I have no doubt that he has the ability to get on top of the car quickly. It’s great to be back up to two cars for Brands Hatch and, with Ian and Yelmer in the sister car, we’ll have two very competitive pairings aiming high from the start of the season.”
Up to 4,000 spectators can attend Brands Hatch next Saturday and Sunday but fans must purchase tickets in advance via brandshatch.co.uk to guarantee their admission. Several covid protocols and restrictions – including a closed paddock – will remain in place until at least June 21 when the UK government is due to end all lockdown measures.