The Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s last dance is this weekend’s traditional Donington Decider and it all comes down to a straight shootout between 2 Seas Motorsport’s James Cottingham and Century Motorsport’s Darren Leung & Dan Harper to see who walks away with the GT3 crown.
In GT4, Jack Brown and Charles Clark have one hand on the title but a DNF last time out at Donington means there’s another five crews who have a mathematical chance of swooping in and snatching the crown away from the Optimum Motorsport duo.
Meanwhile, there’s a number of additions to the grid meaning the final round of the season will get underway with 34 cars – a mix of new arrivals, returnees and shaken up pairings.
In the main category, Cottingham comes into the showdown with a 13-point lead in his Mercedes-AMG GT3 thanks to three wins and two extra podiums picked up over the course of the season.
But Leung and Harper have clicked magnificently and showcased the pace of the BMW M4 GT3 as a contender at every circuit it surveys – two wins for them, including a crucial win at Brands which kept them in the fight – means the title is up in the air and come Sunday evening, either crew could arguably walk away as the champions of season 31.
While Cottingham does have a 13-point buffer, and less success seconds in the pits, there’s a question mark too. Usual team-mate Jonny Adam has commitments in the Algarve and the European Le Mans Series so a new co-driver has had to be drafted in. To be fair, 2 Seas haven’t cut any corners in bringing in a replacement as Philip Ellis – a winner in IMSA, DTM, and GT World Challenge America – will be bringing his considerable experience of the three-pointed star to uncharted territory, he’s never raced in British GT or Donington Park.
With Harper and Ellis both rapid – the battle will no doubt come down to has the better opening stint, and with Cottingham winning at Donington back in May he’ll be hopeful of a repeat and with just 10 seconds of extra time in the pits compared to 20 for his rivals, a safety car – always a certainty at Donington Park – could prove crucial.
Elsewhere, there’s a title to be decided in Silver-Am with Sky Tempesta Racing’s Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt holding a slender advantage over Mark Sansom & Will Tregurtha. The Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 crew have a nine-point deficit to their McLaren rivals, but the former have a five-place grid penalty which has given them a struggle from the very start.
And this weekend is a grid that’s pretty hefty. 17 cars are doing battle this round, with a handful of returnees and new additions. In the familiar camp, Morgan Tillbrook will make his welcomed return to British GT as he partners once again with Marcus Clutton in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 Evo and Garage 59 will also bring their example back. There’s a subtle change in drivers though as Miguel Ramos – who raced at Portimao – will be joined by FIA Formula 3 race winner Jonny Edgar.
In the new camp, John Seale will be making a return to British GT for the first time in a few years as he enters a Fox Motorsport-prepared Lamborghini alongside co-driver Abbie Eaton who continues what has been a successful return to GTs after a strong year in Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe. She’s racing in the championship for the first time since 2017.
It should have been done and dusted, but a nightmare race at Brands Hatch means Jack Brown and Charle Clark have to go on the defensive in their McLaren Artura GT4. They’ve got a 10.5-point lead but Silver Cup penalties mean 26 extra seconds in the pits.
That could be the decisive factor their rivals need. The chasing pack is headed by Century Motorsport’s Michael Johnston & Chris Salkeld, being Pro-Am the BMW M4 GT4 duo will serve 10 seconds less in the pits and those seconds could be crucial if they’re to overcome their deficit.
Indeed, the pair have been in good form of late, with a win in the Algarve combined with a third-place at Kent last time out in September propelling them steadily up the order. Could we be on for a Pro-Am GT4 champion?
Not if Academy Motorsport’s Matt Cowley and Erik Evans have anything to do with it. The Ford Mustang racers are 16.5 points behind the erstwhile leaders, but there’s 37.5 points still up for grabs and Cowley’s won at Donington before so knows what it takes to be quick round the East Midlands.
The last two crews are still in with a chance, but at 24 and 26 points back respectively it’s going to take some going for Ian Gough & Tom Wrigley and Aston Millar & Josh Rowledge to clinch the title. The two teams started on fire – Gough and Wrigley taking two wins in their Race Lab Artura – while Millar and Rowledge haven’t taken any wins, but a trio of a podiums mean they’ve kept the DTO McLaren in outside striking distance.
Outside of the championship fight, there’s one new car to talk about and that’s the arrival of MKH Racing. 2022 British Touring Car Champion Tom Ingram is behind the wheel of the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 alongside Ron Johnson in a Pro-Am entry.
The only other change sees former Stig Ben Collins make a long-awaited championship return alongside Thomas Holland in the Raceway Motorsport Ginetta G56 GT4.
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