The 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship reaches its dramatic, and relatively unexpected considering the year its been, conclusion with titles set to be decided in a three-hour spectacular at Silverstone.
A mega field of entries – including the biggest GTC field in many a year – head to the showdown a lot later in the year than normal and at a different circuit, as Silverstone replaces Donington Park as the decider. The benefit, though, is that British GT’s blue-riband three-hour race at the Northamptonshire circuit will be the venue where the titles are dished out.
Want the lowdown on exactly what the championship situation is? Read our preview of all the categories below, with details on the extra entries joining in the fun.
Before we get onto the details of extra entries – and there are some mega teams and drivers set to do battle – lets take a look the main attraction, a four-way battle for the GT3 championship.
A spectacular last-to-first drive from Ram Racing’s Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala at Donington Park has put them in the prime position to secure the title but a less-than-optimal double-header at Snetterton last time out has left them vulnerable going into Silverstone, where 37.5 points are on offer for the win.
That’s because, on 136.5 points each, they’re only six ahead of nearest rivals Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell. The Barwell Motorsport pair have been a revelation this year in their Lamborghini Huracán with a win at Brands Hatch capping a season which – so far – has seen the duo finish sixth or above in the eight races in 2020. On top of the standings for a while, finishing fifth – compared to Ram Racing’s third – in Snetterton’s second race explains the deficit to the leaders.
Both of them though, face fierce rivals in the shape of the second Barwell Lamborghini of Phil Keen and Adam Balon. Keen has been a title runner-up on numerous occasions over the last years with bad luck always befalling him in the final race – either with Balon or former co-driver Jon Minshaw.
They’re sat on 125 points, after a 12th at Brands Hatch, but have momentum on their side having been the only squad so far this season to take more than one win as they added to their, admittedly rather comfortable, win at Oulton Park with a triumph at Snetterton.
Outsiders for the title are Jenson Team Rocket RJN’s James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien. After a spectacular win in the season-opener, the pair couldn’t rekindle their early pace until a pair of podiums at Brands and the second Donington weekend gave them a glimmer. However, on 102.5 points, they need the crews ahead of them to retire – or have poor races – to have any chance of lifting the crown.
They’re not alone though, as a host of additional entries look set to shake up the order and heat up what will no doubt be a freezing round, knowing what Silverstone is like in November…
The most notable comes on the other side of O’Brien and Baldwin’s garage as the team brings another McLaren 720S for GT World Challenge regular Chris Buncombe and his friend, and F1 World Champion, Jenson Button who will be looking to put to bed a remarkable record at Silverstone where he’s not picked up a victory since his British F3 days in 1999.
Elsewhere, British GT’s most successful driver Jonny Adam will be making a second appearance of the season as he joins Alexander West in a Garage 59 Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
They’re not the only Aston Martin on the grid as TF Sport makes its return to the top class with last year’s British GT4 champion Tom Canning being joined by Giacomo Petrobelli. Also joining in the Vantage party is Beechdean AMR, as Andrew Howard makes his second appearance of the year – after Brands Hatch – and he’s joined by British GT debutant Charlie Eastwood.
There’s also an Aston for bit-part players Ultimate Speed, as Mike Brown and Matt Manderson make another of their random appearances in the championship.
Unbelievably, considering how many already race in the series, there’s even more McLarens joining the entry as fan favourites Balfe Motorsport confirmed the return of its red menace for Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell and 2 Seas Motorsport becomes 3 Seas for the weekend as Martin Kodric partners Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East champion Al Faisal Al Zubair.
Two more 720Ss are entered by Optimum Motorsport as the team’s GT Open Pro-Am pairing Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy are joined by Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 runners Mark Crader and Alex Mortimer.
All of those McLarens mean the marque snatches the record for most cars entered in GT3 by a single manufacturer – beating the eight Aston Martins that raced at Silverstone in 2014.
Trying to add a bit of extra variety is Steller Motorsport, which returns with its Audi R8 LMS for Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding.
There’s one notable drop off in the GT3 entry though, as Team Parker Racing’s Scott Malvern and Nick Jones switch to the Mercedes-AMG GT4 which took them to class glory at last year’s Silverstone 500.
While there’s no titles to decide in GTC, having not had an entry all year so far, there’s a cracking battle shaping up as five cars are entered into the class to make the biggest entry for GTC in many a season.
Like the European Le Mans Series’ GTE class, the five are split almost equally between Ferrari and Porsche with three of the former and two of the latter.
First to confirm their attendance were Lucky Khera, Lee Frost and Ross Wylie in a Simon Green Motorsport-run Ferrari 488 Challenge. Khera has plenty of experience in Ferraris, racing with quite a bit of success in both Ferrari Challenge UK and GT Cup in recent months where he has been joined by Ross Wylie. Frost, meanwhile, has raced alongside Khera in Porsche Carrera Cup GB in a two-car effort with Simon Green.
Also familiar to watchers of GT Cup is the crew of the second Ferrari, with the championship’s own GTC class winners John Dhillon and Phil Quaife joining the party in their prancing horse ran by Aaron Scott’s Scott Speed outfit.
The final 488 sees the return of FF Corse after a four-year hiatus with Jamie Stanley partnering with Laurent De Meeus, the pair well-versed in Ferrari racing having raced together in the European Challenge series.
Team Parker Racing fill up the rest of the GTC entry with a pair of Porsche 991 GT3 Cups. The first sees the long-awaited return to the championship of Tim Bridgman, who was a race winner with Trackspeed back in 2011, as well as last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup GB Pro-Am champion Karl Leonard.
Ryan Ratcliffe makes a welcome return to the second 911, having moved across to the one-make series for this year, and will be joined by his TPR team-mate Justin Armstrong who has been taking Am class silverware in Carrera Cup.
There’s five crews ready to do battle for the GT4 category. With the top two in the secondary class separated by just 2.5 points, and third just another 10.5 behind, there’s going to be an almighty scrap for the crown.
We’ll start with the first team with two horses in the race – TF Sport. The Aston Martin powerhouse heads into yet another title decider with a better than fair chance of walking away with silverware but history this season has shown that its two duos don’t give each other an inch in battle – which came to a head at Brands Hatch as they collided in the final minutes.
The lead pair is the Vantage of Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan. A win at Snetterton has added to four podiums they’ve secured in a dominant season to date but a sign of just how competitive GT4 has been comes in their advantage – or lack of – in the standings.
That’s because HHC Motorsport’s Jordan Collard and Patrik Matthiesen are just 2.5 points behind having taken two wins and four podiums. However, a DNF at Brands Hatch has put them at a disadvantage. Remarkably, if things all fall in to line Jordan and father Rob – in the Barwell Lamborghini – can pull off a remarkable record of being the first father and son to win championship titles in the same series in the same year.
Jordan has a lot of competition on that front, though, as TF’s second Aston is lying on 130 points – 13 off the lead. That car is driven by Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble and also has two wins to its name, but just the three podiums. They too, have been hampered by a podium, after they were involved in an accidental collision with Nick Jones in the second Oulton race.
After them it’s very much an outsiders quest for the title for the racers in fourth and fifth. On 112.5 points is Academy Motorsport’s Matt Cowley, the Mustang racer has had a decent season so far with a win and a second to show for his efforts but a change in team-mate – after issues for Jordan Albert – could have cost him some momentum despite having a more than capable replacement in Will Moore.
Really needing luck to go their way are Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers in the second HHC McLaren 570S. The pair are exactly 37.5 points behind the leaders, and with one win to their name they’d need everyone ahead of them to either not score, or just pick up just a few points, and for them to win to even have a chance – but stranger things have happened.
Like GT3 and GTC, GT4 has done its own expansion in recent weeks as teams look to take the opportunity to do a bit of racing round Silverstone.
Of note, Balfe Motorsport has confirmed an additional two McLaren 570S GT4s to join Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt. The first sees the return of Warren Hughes and Jan Klingelnberg – who took part in the second Donington weekend – and the second features Lars Dahmann – a regular in the Pure McLaren GT Series dominated by Flewitt – who is partnered with Charlie Hollings who makes a British GT return for the first time since 2017.
Bringing an extra Aston Martin into the series is GT Cup race winner Newbridge Motorsport, as the team’s regular driver Alex Toth-Jones is joined by James Dorlin who will also be racing in the Porsche Sprint Cup Challenge at Silverstone.
The Silverstone 500 gets underway at 12.50pm on Sunday with livestreaming available on GT REPORT.
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