The Power and The Glory
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship has provided some of the best, high octane racing seen in the UK this year.
James Gornall and Jon Barnes claimed the 2008 drivers crown at Brands Hatch and CR Scuderia wrapped up the team title at Silverstone in August, with Matt Nicol-Jones and Stewart Linn claiming the inaugural GT4 title. With no titles up for grabs, the 2-hour race at Donington Park on Sunday 12 October will be a straight fight to claim the winner’s laurels in the final encounter of the year.
Newly crowned British GT champions James Gornall and Jon Barnes will race the Team Trimite Brookspeed Viper after there was some doubt whether the pairing would be able to race at Donington Park. A last minute deal has enabled Gornall to take part in the final race of his championship winning year and his co-champion will take the wheel of the Viper as well. Jon Barnes had indicated that he would only race at Donington with James Gornall because if he scored one championship point without the Peterborough based driver he would take the British GT title on his own. However that scenario has now been averted and the 2008 Champions will be looking for their fifth win of the year in the 120-minute race.
While the title race has been decided, the battle for the runners up spot is far from over with all six CR Scuderia drivers in with a chance of finishing ahead of their teammates. Knockhill race winners Jeremy Metcalfe and Luke Hines (#16 CR Scuderia Ferrari 430) are currently tied on 52-points with Michael Cullen (#15 CR Scuderia Ferrari 430). Cullen has won three times with co driver Paddy Shovlin, but two missed races at Snetterton means Shovlin has a five point deficit to his teammate in the overall championship.
Michael Meadows and James Sutton (#14 CR Scuderia Ferrari) are also on 47-points with Paddy Shovlin. The driver pairing won the first 2-hour race of the season at Silverstone in August in dramatic style and will be looking for more of the same at Donington Park.
Hector Lester has a mathematical chance of upsetting the CR Scuderia party. The Ulsterman will be joined at Donington Park by former British GTO Champion and Le Mans 24 Hour Class winner Jamie Davies who is taking over the driving duties in the Christians in Motorsport Ferrari 430 from Allan Simonsen.
Three other Ferraris will be on the grid at Donington Park. Matt Griffin and Peter Bamford will be in the Chad Peninsula Racing run car, with new entries from Britcar regulars Kessel Racing (Peer Slipsager and Almo Copelli) and M-Tech (Duncan Cameron and Nigel Greensall).
The Dodge Viper will also be well represented on the Donington grid with five contenders. As well as the Team Trimite Brookspeed car of Barnes and Gornall, 2007 champions Team RPM are fielding three Vipers with Nick Foster and Nigel Redwood will team up again in the number 1 car. Henry Fletcher is joined in the number 2 Viper by British GT race winner Phil Keen and Steve Tandy and Richard Evans swapping their GT4 Ginetta for V10 American power to make their GT3 debut.
The ABG Motorsport pairing of Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins will be looking to secure that elusive first British GT win having missed out a few times in 2008. Five podium finishes have underlined the competitiveness of this driver/team pairing.
The sole Aston Martin DBRS9 run by 22gtracing has been transformed into a potential race winner in the last few outings. Michael Bentwood will be joined by Adrian Willmot in the cockpit for the final race of the year and the Manchester based driver will be hoping for a repeat of the racing leading performance he demonstrated at Silverstone. The Ascari of David and Godfrey Jones made a welcome return to the British GT Championship at Silverstone and the Leicestershire based brothers will be hoping for better luck on home turf in the Team Eurotech Preci Spark machine.
Oulton Park race winner Tom Ferrier will be joined in the Tech 9 Lamborghini Gallardo by 2006 British GT3 Champion Leo Machitski and both drivers will be hoping for technical reliability to see them to the chequered flag. Team Modena will be fielding their two Lamborghini’s with Derbyshire’s Guy Harrington racing with Ben de Zille Butler in the number 11 car and Adam Jones and Rachel Green in the number 21 Gallardo.
Matt Nicol-Jones and Stewart Linn have made the new GT4 class their own in 2008 with thirteen podium finishes in thirteen race starts, including seven wins, in their IMS Motorsport run Ginetta G50. With the drivers and team titles now secured the pair can now try to add their eighth win of the season at Donington Park. Hunter Abbott and Rob Austin have been the new champion’s closest rivals in a season of trials and tribulations. If the Rob Austin Racing Ginetta hadn’t suffered a fiery end at Oulton Park and if an electrical problem hadn’t forced them to retire from the lead in Scotland, the GT4 championship could’ve had a closer outcome.
Fulvio Mussi makes a welcome return to the British GT grid for Team RPM and is currently tied on 61 points with teammate Joe Osborne. Double race winner Nigel Moore will pilot the third Team RPM Ginetta with his co driver yet to be named.
The 25-car Avon Tyres British GT Championship grid boasts a combined output of over 11,000 horsepower. So sit back, enjoy the spectacle and see who will take the glory at the final race of 2008.
At the same event on Sunday 12 October, Donington Park will host the final two races of the 2008 British F3 International Series. Britain’s Oliver Turvey, Spain’s Jaime Alguersuari and New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley will battle it out to see who will leave the East Midlands circuit with one of motorsports most prestigious titles which since 1964 has been won some of the greatest drivers in the sport.