It’s time. British GT 2019 Opener, Oulton Park.
So the British GT season kicks off in Oulton Park this weekend; new teams, new drivers and new cars, we’re in for a treat. It seems like a long time since the 2018 season closer at Donington Park but here it is, 2019 starts here. A super strong grid of 35 cars are due to line up for a pair of races on Easter Monday, 13 GT3, 21 GT4 and a single GTC.
There’s lot to be excited about in the GT3 field this year. As well as new drivers we’ve got a plethora of new machinery from the likes of Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini and McLaren. BMW will be represented here with the series debut of the the M6, while Mercedes will return with the tried and tested AMG GT.
After being so successful in 2018, Aston Martin will be hoping to continue that in 2019, switching from their V12 to the new V8. Also hoping that Aston’s new V8 will do the business is Jonny Adam, but now driving for TF Sport, rather than Optimum. Optimum will have their hopes on a wealth of new drivers, fielding one GT3 car and two GT4 cars.
One team to look out for is the 2018 champion Century, taking the top honours in the driver and team standings last year in GT4. Moving forward, they’ve added two GT3 cars to their line up for 2019, as well as their two GT4 cars. Last year’s top two GT4 drivers, Jack Mitchell and Ben Green are stepping up to GT3 this year, driving the BMW M6. With four cars to look after, it looks like Century will have a busy season.
Bentley will have their Gen2 Continental on home soil for the first time at Oulton Park with previous champions Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris joining forces after a year apart, racing for JRM. Team Parker return for 2019, also with a Bentley Continental alongside their Mercedes AMG GT. Hopefully these bigs rigs will have a bit more luck than they’ve had recently and they’ll bring the thunder to the podium.
Lamborghini’s new Huracan GT3 Evo will be present at Oulton Park, under the Barwell name. The powerful duo of Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker team up again for 2019, while on the other side of the garage, Phil Keen teams up with previous GT4 driver Adam Balon.
One car that has gained a lot of attention so far this season is the new offering from McLaren; the 720s GT3, replacing the previous 650s. For 2019, Balfe Motorsport will have the returning duo of Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell hoping the new car will do the business.
It’s not only GT3 we’ve got to look forward to. There’s also the GT4 boys and girls, and with last year’s winner Jack Mitchell moving up to GT3, we’ll be looking at a new champion come close of play at the end of the season.
As well as new models from some familiar marques in 2019, there’s a return for KTM since its last appearance in 2011. Track Focused’s KTM will have Mike McCollum and Sean Cooper behind the wheel, both coming up from driving together in the Britcar Championship in 2018.
Another manufacturer making a comeback to British GT is Ford, not seen in the championship since 2011. Multimatic Motorsports will be offering up a pair of Mustangs and Race Performance will be bringing a third, driven by ex-BTCC drivers Sam Smelt and Aron Taylor-Smith.
Returning team HHC have switched from Ginetta to a pair of McLaren 570s in pursuit of success in GT4 for 2019. Another 570s is driven by 2016 champ Graham Johnson with Michael O’Brien the McLaren Development Driver, racing for Balfe Motorsport.
Century have a super busy program in GT for 2019, with two GT3 cars as well as their two BMW M4s. With their top 2018 drivers moving up to GT3, it allows their new drivers Mark Kimber, Angus Fender and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke, plus returning driver Jacob Mathiassen, the opportunity to take top honours.
Aston Martin has the biggest showing in GT4, as in GT3, with seven new V8 Vantages in class. Beechdean, Optimum and Academy all return to compete for GT4 glory in the Aston, with GT3 Team TF Sport joining the GT4 ranks for the first time since 2014.
Mercedes are represented in GT4 by two returning teams, Fox Motorsport and Team Parker Racing. Both line ups remain unchanged for 2019; Fox’s Mark Murfitt and Michael Broadhurst return for their second year together, and Team Parker’s Nick Jones and Scott Malvern will be hoping for similar success at Oulton Park after taking the class win in 2018 after rain cut the race short.
Jaguar fans might feel a little short changed in 2019 with Invictus only fielding one car this season, back in the familiar hands of Steve McCulley and Matthew George.
Live Coverage –
Both one hour GT races will be shown live on the British GT’s Facebook page and website, and on the SRO’s GT Youtube channel. As well as the GT races, a selection of the support races will also be shown live via the British GT website.
Timetable for the weekend –
Saturday 20th April
09:30-10:30 – Free Practice 1
11:40-12:40 – Free Practice 2
15:15-15:25 – Qualifying GT3 AM
15:29-15:39 – Qualifying GT3 Pro
15:43-15:53 – Qualifying GT4 AM
15:58-16:08 – Qualifying GT4 Pro
Monday 22nd April
09:00-09:10 – Warm Up
11:15-12:15 – Race 1
15:35-16:35 – Race 2
Lap Records –
GT3 – 1.34.624 – Callum MacLeod – Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental – 2017
GT4 – 1.43.674 – Luke Davenport – Tolman Motorsport Ginetta – 2015
Chris Lazenby BAarch MArch