This weekend’s round of the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship will see a host of new GT3 and GT4 cars join the grids for what promises to be a thrilling pair of 60 minute sprint races on the Nürburgring GP circuit.
The only overseas event on the British GT calendar sees the championship run as support to the famous 24 Hours of Nürburgring race and the event has attracted the attention of a number of European competitors as they seek to experience the atmosphere of a British GT weekend; a huge grid of 30 cars is expected to race on the Friday and Saturday in Germany, the championship’s first visit to the legendary track.
Joining the highly competitive GT3 field is the Swedish JB Motorsports team with their 2010 Audi R8 LMS, driven by Jan Brunstedt and Mikael Bender. The Swedish pairing has experience of GT3 and recently took part in the opening round of the Blancpain Endurance series at Monza, Italy.
Another addition to GT3 comes in the shape of German Lamborghini team, Rhino Leipert Motorsport and its Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+. Marcel Leipert has raced the car in FIA GT3 European Championship and the ADAC GT Masters; Marco Attard makes the move from GT4 to GT3 as he looks to challenge for overall victory in British GT.
In the GT4 class last time out, the Ginetta G50 triumphed in both races. A further three Ginetta G50s will compete in Germany, taking the total to five in the category.
Alex Osborne and James May missed out on competing in the opening round at Oulton Park, the APO Sport drivers G50 suffered an engine failure in free practice that put pay to their plans of racing over the Easter weekend. The pair re-joins the championship with a new engine and some testing miles now under their belt.
Ryan Ratcliffe and Lee Mowle join the championship with Optimum Motorsport, having previously competed against each other in the Total Quartz Ginetta GT5 Challenge.
Italian team, Nova Race come to British GT having competed in VLN and Ginetta G50 Cup Italia in previous years, and bring regular chargers Marco Cassera and Mattero Cressoni who will drive the team’s G50.
Variety is the spice of life, and there is an abundance of it in GT4 this weekend. After attracting a lot of attention at the championship media day, season entrants, Mazda with Jota Group kick off their 2012 campaign at the Nürburgring. Drivers Mark Ticehurst and Owen Mildenhall will no doubt be keen to put the new Mazda MX5 GT4 through its paces on the challenging former home to the German Grand Prix.
Following the successful debut of BMW in GT3 in round one, the marque is represented in GT4 by BMW specialists L’Espace Bienvenu’s BMW M3 GT4; the French team come with a long history in the GT4 European Cup.
GT stalwart, Colin White is another familiar face returning to the British GT grid. His CWS 4x4 Spares-backed modified Ginetta G55 will make the trip to the Nürburgring with Welsh charger, Jake Rattenbury partnering him in the GTC class.
Finally, in addition to the existing TV coverage on Channel 4 (UK) and Motors TV, race one of the weekend on Friday will be broadcast live via German sport broadcaster, SPORT1, from 16:30 – 17:30 CET as the championship looks to further its broadcast reach.
“We’ve had a lot of interest from European teams since the start of the season,” said Benjamin Franassovici, British GT Championship Manager. “JB and Rhino are both well prepared teams familiar with European GT3; we welcome them to our series and the additional challenge they bring to what is a highly competitive class. I’m very happy to see the new entries in GT4 too.
“We’re keen to grow the GT4 grid in the same way we have with GT3; this weekend sees more of a balance between entries in the two classes. Mazda will add something interesting to the battle between the increasing numbers of Lotus and Ginetta teams, and will provide a stronger challenge as the season progresses.
“Having Lamborghini (in GT3), BMW and Mazda (in GT4) join our grid means we have almost every model of current GT3 and GT4 car represented which is fantastic not just for the drivers and teams, but our growing fan base across the world.”
Action begins on Thursday with two hour long Free Practice sessions (7:40am and 8:55am) and a single 35-minute qualifying session from 17:10. Race one is on Friday from 15:30 and race two is on Saturday morning at 8:15am. All times above are in British Summer Time (BST) for your reference.