> RAM and Steller out to extend championship leads
> Provisional entry list: Snetterton
Intelligent Money British GT Championship teams have not one but two chances to score big this weekend when Snetterton hosts rounds five and six of the 2022 campaign.
The venue’s 300 layout allied with Norfolk’s unusually unpredictable weather tends to produce action-packed races aplenty. And with 30 cars on the grid, 17 of them GT3s, there’s no reason to believe this season’s visit will be any different.
Sunday’s pair of 60-minute sprint races follow the three-hour outing at Donington where Enduro Motorsport’s Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton, and Academy’s Matt Cowley and Marco Signoretti gained some overdue championship momentum at a crucial time by claiming their first wins of the season.
The caveat for them as well as their fellow podium finishers is a 10, seven or five-second Success Penalty served during Race 1’s pitstop, which must be made between minutes 22 and 32 (GT3), and 28 and 38 (GT4).
GT3: ENDURO THROW DOWN THE GAUNTLET
One word, dominant, sums up Enduro’s performance at Donington where Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton added the biggest victory margin in British GT3 history (59.9s) to a perfect weekend that included pole position and fastest lap. However, it was also a long overdue result for the McLaren crew whose low scoring start to the season means even maximum points leave them sixth in the standings heading to Snetterton.
What’s more, their chances of building on that highly impressive outing will be tempered by the full Success Penalty that makes back-to-back wins highly unlikely. Instead, Race 2 offers the best chance of another big result that would move the best placed 720S firmly into title contention.
Top spot is currently held by Ian Loggie who is joined this weekend by Callum Macleod for the final time before Jules Gounon returns at Spa. RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG made up for its Silverstone non-score by finishing third last time out, which helped the Scot extend his points advantage to 15.5. A five-second Success Penalty will restrict but not entirely derail the crew in Race 1 at Snetterton where Loggie and Yelmer Buurman claimed a victory last season.
Loggie’s three podiums from four attempts are in stark contrast to WPI’s early season form where consistency rather than standout results have helped Michael Igoe and Phil Keen keep pace with the leader. They lie second overall and a point clear of Balfe Motorsport’s Audi shared by Adam Carroll and Shaun Balfe who has opted to skip Snetterton due to work commitments.
One point further back are Redline’s Silver-Am class championship leaders, Alex Malykhin and James Dorlin, who were particularly impressive at the two previous rounds. A similarly strong qualifying performance to Silverstone’s would make them one of Race 1’s favourites given their Success Penalty-free status.
The same should apply to another Lamborghini pairing, Barwell’s Adam Balon and Sandy Mitchell, who endured a torrid time at Donington after Silverstone 500 victory revived their championship hopes. They’ve now slipped 26 points adrift of Loggie – one more than a victory counts for at Snetterton – and must bounce back quickly if they’re to remain realistic title contenders. History is at least on their side: Balon and Barwell have claimed three wins together in Norfolk, including a rare double in 2019, while Mitchell scored his very first British GT win – albeit in the GT4 class – there three years earlier. On the flipside, the Huracan has a five-place grid drop in Race 1 after Mitchell reached his cumulative behavioural warning points limit at Donington.
2 Seas is also a former Snetterton winner and returns this weekend with a second Mercedes-AMG for its part-time crew of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam. Its other car must serve a seven-second Success Penalty on Sunday morning after finishing runner-up at Donington where James Cottingham and Lewis Williamson proved more than a match for Enduro before the quirks of Safety Car timing set them back.
Elsewhere, little has gone right for Team Abba so far in 2022 but there’s no denying that Richard and Sam Neary have the speed to be regular podium contenders. What’s more, Neary Snr has been one of the Am contingent’s most consistent qualifiers, which bodes well for Snetterton’s single-driver format.
And if it’s consistency you’re after then look no further than Fox Motorsport who maintained their run of points finishes at Donington. Only WPI have also scored in all four races this year. Jamie Stanley returns to partner Nick Halstead after missing the previous round.
There’s also a change at Paddock where Graham Davidson deputises for Kelvin Fletcher. The 2019 champion, who is also joining Martin Plowman at Spa, made an instant impression during his super sub appearance with Team Rocket RJN on Oulton’s opening weekend by qualifying 0.3s shy of pole.
Meanwhile, former DTM and Formula E driver Joel Eriksson joins Betty Chen in Century’s BMW for the remainder of this season.
GT4: STELLER STILL OUT FRONT DESPITE DONNY DISAPPOINTMENT
Following nothing short of a Steller start to the season championship leaders Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding encountered their first hiccup of the campaign at Donington. Another pole position suggested the Audi would once again be the car to beat before a spin and then being on the wrong end of a Safety Car call relegated them to a lonely race for minor points.
But their loss, as well as Newbridge’s pitstop drama, was undoubtedly the championship’s gain with Matt Cowley and Marco Signoretti clinching a first win of the season to move into title contention.
Three-quarters of that same partnership – Cowley, Academy and the Mustang – also won at Snetterton last year, although doing so again in Race 1 will require them to overturn the maximum Success Penalty. Steller as well as Matt Topham and Darren Turner, who start four points adrift of top spot, compete without the same handicap.
Century’s Jack Brown and Will Burns maintained their consistent start to the year by finishing second and bagging a useful points haul at Donington to leave themselves 13.5 behind the leaders. Of course, that also brings with it the irritation of a seven-second Success Penalty on Sunday morning, meaning the lead BMW’s best opportunity to score big will likely come in Race 2.
The same doesn’t apply to another consistent performer, Ross Wylie, whose best result remains second at Silverstone. He’s once again joined by Porsche Carrera Cup GB front runner Matthew Graham aboard Valluga’s Cayman, which should be a podium threat in the opening race. A first win of the season, as well as Wylie’s first since 2014, would come as a welcome boost to the Scot’s title chances.
As well as Academy’s Ford and Century’s BMW, Donington’s podium also featured Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Supra shared by Tom Edgar and Jordan Collard. The latter is something of a Snetterton specialist and will be eyeing a fourth visit to Victory Lane in as many years on Sunday afternoon once the team’s five-second Success Penalty is served in Race 1.
Collard is also half responsible for McLaren’s incredible record at Snetterton where the 570S GT4 has won on each of the six occasions it’s visited. The responsibility of maintaining that streak falls to Motus One Racing, Team BRIT and Paddock Motorsport, all of whom are still chasing their first major points of the campaign.
Likewise two perennial top-six contenders, Team Parker Racing and R Racing, who have recorded solid scores in all four races held thus far. Josh Miller and Jamie Day have applied themselves well en route to sixth in the standings and can still become the youngest crew in terms of combined age to win a British GT race, although Seb Hopkins – who shares TPR’s Porsche with Jamie Orton – can no longer beat the same individual record. That was set, coincidentally, at Snetterton by Sandy Mitchell in 2016.
HOW TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND
British GT’s always best enjoyed trackside! Weekend tickets or those for Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s races can be pre-ordered in advance until 16:00 BST on Wednesday at https://snetterton.msv.com/SN-22-BGT.
However, there’s also plenty of ways to watch if you can’t make it to Snetterton. Qualifying and both races are live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel, britishgt.com and British GT’s Facebook page, while Sky Sports F1 will broadcast highlights approximately one week after the event.
Friday 24 June
11:00 – 11:55: Test 1
13:55 – 14:50: Test 2
16:15 – 17:10: Test 3
Saturday 25 June
09:30 – 10:30: Free Practice 1
12:05 – 13:05: Free Practice 2
16:10 – 16:20: Qualifying – GT3 Q1
16:24 – 16:34: Qualifying – GT3 Q2
16:38 – 16:48: Qualifying – GT4 Q1
16:53 – 17:03: Qualifying – GT4 Q2
Sunday 26 June
09:00 – 09:15: Warm-up
10:45 – 11:45: Race 1
13:00 – 13:20: Pitwalk and autograph session
16:05 – 17:05: Race 2
GT3 – 1m48.498s – Phil Keen – Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – 2017
GT4 – 1m58.125s – Scott Malvern – Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 – 2019
PITSTOP SPECIFICS – ONE-HOUR RACE
GT3 cars must make their mandatory driver change at 22-32 minutes, while GT4’s pit window is 28-38 minutes.
Mandatory Pitstop Times (pit-in to pit-out)
GT3: 75s | GT4: 105s
Pitstop Success Penalties (Race 1)
10s – #77 Enduro Motorsport – Morgan Tillbrook & Marcus Clutton
07s – #4 2 Seas Motorsport – James Cottingham & Lewis Williamson
05s – #6 RAM Racing – Ian Loggie & Callum Macleod
10s – #61 Academy Motorsport – Matt Cowley & Marco Signoretti
07s – #90 Century Motorsport – Will Burns & Jack Brown
05s – #48 Toyota Gazoo Racing UK – Tom Edgar & Jordan Collard
All GT4 Silver Cup entries must serve an additional 14 seconds during their mandatory driver changes and carry 25kg of ballast.