Avon Tyres British GT Championship : Round 1 – Oulton Park
By Nat Twiss
Sitting comfortably? I'll begin with the format of the championship – 25 cars were lined up at Oulton, two drivers per car, in two classes – GT3, with gorgeous, modified supercars that have been outfitted to the FIA specifications, with suspension geometry, engine modification and bodywork similar to their road-going counterparts…
|…And the slightly tamer GT4 class, which features low and mid end sports cars that are effectively road legal, like the new Lotus Evora. The GT3 class takes up the majority of the grid, with 4 cars campaigning in the GT4 class, two Lotus Evoras, run by Lotus Sport UK, alongside two Ginetta G50s, run by Team WFR and Century Motorsport.
There are two other classes with one car in each – the Chevron GR8 in the GTC Class and another one the GT3 model, in the invitational class.
|The championship goes to the best venues in the UK, as well as venturing across to the continent for Round 2 of the championship, which is held at the Nurburgring GP circuit.
The Nissan GTR makes a successful return to the British GT Championship after a lengthy absence.
New to the GT3 roster this year was the JMH team, who were running a Nissan GTR after a six-year absence from the championship. It retains the same V6 as the road going GTR, with 530ps going to the rear wheels. It sounds deep and guttural, and its beefy looks are perfect compared to the shrill, fragile looking Ferraris.
Practice session 1, on Saturday morning, was dominated by Ferrari. The three top spots were taken by the Italian marque. Top honour went to the MTech car of Matt Griffin, second to the more mature F430 of Adam Wilcox. Rosso Verde filled rounded out the top three with Alan Simonsen less than 0.2 of a second from the top time.
Porsche took over as the second session drew to a close, with the Motorbase 997 GT3 R of Nick Tandy taking the top spot on the timesheets. MTech retained their pace from the more moist first session, sandwiched between Tandy and one of the three Trackspeed Porsches, driven by Richard Westbrook. Barely half a second separated the top five in P2. Expectations were high for qualifying.
Qualifying with British GT was, for me, a confusing affair. My first time shooting the championship led me to believe that there was simply a driver change during the session; it wasn't until later I realized that the teams had both an 'amateur' (though far from it in reality) and a 'professional' driver.
These two divisions both run in different sessions, separated by a very fast driver and tyre change.