After months of waiting, the Intelligent Money British GT Championship bursts back into life this weekend (22-23 May) at Brands Hatch, with a 26-car field bringing new teams, new driver line-ups, but some familiar faces too.
More than six months after the 2020 season ended with an action-packed Silverstone finale, British GT is back and is promising a thrilling 2021. Despite being slightly down on numbers pre-pandemic, every GT3 and GT4 entry – on paper – has what it takes to go for the title so there’s no doubt there’ll be action throughout as the championship twists and turns towards its climax.
The biggest news to come from the top category is the return of just one of our two GT3 champions from last year, as Rob Collard elects to step up from British GT to GT World Challenge Europe.
Instead, his co-driver Sandy Mitchell will pair his other-worldly pace with series front-runner Adam Balon in the #1 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo.
Balon has proved a more than capable racer since his arrival in the top class, and with Mitchell by his side, the pair have staked an early claim as the one’s to watch. For the team too, a second car featuring Lamborghini regulars Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind will put them in a great position to target the teams’ titles.
They’re not without competition though. The 14-car GT3 entry is stacked with talent, and none more so than Beechdean AMR. The return of the Aston Martin stalwarts comes with an added hit of nostalgia as it features the return of the Andrew Howard – Jonny Adam partnership which secured the 2015 title and numerous more race wins.
Speaking of British GT stars, only one driver can rival Adam in the winning stakes and that’s Phil Keen. Leaving Barwell after years of coming so close to securing a title, he’s moved across to fellow Lamborghini outfit WPI Motorsport as he joins Michael Igoe to build on the latter’s first British GT victory last season alongside Andrea Caldarelli.
There’s also a fourth Lamborghini on the grid, as Lucky Khera adds another programme to an already packed schedule which includes Britcar, GT Cup and Ferrari Challenge UK. He’s racing alongside Ross Wylie in a Simon Green Motorsport-prepared Huracán.
Adding to the group of GT Cup regulars competing in British GT are Team Abba Racing. The squad are well-known to British GT fans with father and son duo Richard and Sam Neary getting quicker and quicker with every race in their Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Also experiencing GT Cup action this season are fellow father and son team Stewart and Lewis Proctor. The Balfe Motorsport pairing secured the first GT Cup victory for the McLaren 720S GT3 but will be facing GT Cup regulars Enduro Motorsport in the best McLaren stakes as the team step up to GT3 with a 720S for Marcus Clutton and Morgan Tillbrook.
One of the biggest announcements of the off-season came from Team Parker Racing, as Nick Jones and Scott Malvern confirmed their switch from Bentley to an absolutely stunning Porsche 911 GT3 R. Interestingly, they’re not the only pair running a Porsche as G-Cat Racing returns with its 911 for Greg Caton and Shamus Jennings.
While one team leaves a Bentley behind, another one brings one in as JRM – having taken a year off last year because of the pandemic – returns with a Continental for 2019 GT4 champions Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman in their delayed promotion to the premier class.
RAM Racing returns with two Mercedes-AMGs, and with the banning of all-Silver crews in GT3, its lead pairing of Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman have a really chance of a title challenge. While Buurman is always dead on the pace, Loggie himself has become an Am to be reckoned with as he gets even more comfortable behind the wheel of the three-pointed star.
That said, RAM’s second crew are no slouches either. Race winner Sam De Haan is combining a British and European programme for 2021, and he’s joined in Britain by noted historic racer James Cottingham.
Rounding out the field is a second Aston Martin Vantage GT3, this one the stunning chrome-liveried Ultimate Speed entry of Matt Manderson and Mike Brown.
It’s been a number of years since Silver Cup – still allowed in GT4 – and Pro-Am entries have been almost equal in the secondary class but 2021 has seen an almost equal number – with seven Silver Cup crews and five Pro-Ams making up the 12-car class.
The biggest squad comes in the shape of Jenson Button’s Team Rocket RJN. The squad is running two McLaren 570S GT4s for the McLaren Driver Development Programme, with Alain Valente and Michael Benyahia racing alongside Harry Hayek and Katie Milner. RJN’s third car isn’t part of the driver programme, but does feature some rising GT4 aces as Jordan Collard teams up with James Kell. All three are running in the Silver Cup.
The only other team running more than one car is Century Motorsport, with two BMW M4 GT4s for Ginetta GT4 Supercup racer Will Burns and Gus Burton in a Silver Cup entry, and team regular Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke joining Chris Salkeld in a Pro-Am line-up – the latter racing with sponsorship from British celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott. Spicy.
Elsewhere, there’s a big step up by Speedworks Motorsport, as its Toyota GR Supra entry is run under the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK banner. It’s Pro-Am entry is anchored by Porsche Carrera Cup racer Scott McKenna, the North East racer also named as part of Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Young Driver programme. He’ll compete alongside John Ferguson, who is also taking a step across from single-make Porsche racing.
Cicely Motorsport brings a Mercedes-AMG GT4 to the championship full-time, after a couple of one-offs over the last few years, with former GT4 champion Jake Giddings partnering David Whitmore – who moves across from the Team Tegiwa BMW – in a Pro-Am offering.
There’s another two McLarens on the entry list. One belongs to Fox Motorsport with team owner Jamie Stanley – also racing with John Seale in Britcar and GT Cup this year – partnering the team’s long-time Ginetta racer Nick Halstead in the latter’s move up into multi-marque racing.
The other is a Balfe Motorsport entry, as the team enters a 570S for Jack Brown and Ginetta GT5 Challenge racer Ashley Marshall.
While on the topic of Ginetta racers, the Yorkshire company’s factory driver Charlie Robertson will be taking on this year’s championship with Assetto Motorsport. The team, a familiar runner of Ginettas, will be debuting the new G56 with Mark Sansom joining Robertson.
Steller Motorsport is ensuring additional German presence in GT4, with an Audi R8 LMS for long-time pairing Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams.
Academy Motorsport rounds out the field, with it’s American muscle – the Ford Mustang GT4 – being piloted by Matt Cowley and Will Moore.
The British GT Championship gets underway at Brands Hatch for the first time since 2016, with the regular season-opening venue Oulton Park moved to September because of COVID restrictions.
Other than that, all the usual venues make a return, with two trips Donington Park, the blue-riband Silverstone 500, two 60-minute races at Snetterton and – hopefully – the return of an overseas adventure as British GT joins SRO Speed Week in the build up to the Spa 24 Hours in July.
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