This weekend at Donington Park promises an exciting mix of championship battles for the season conclusion to the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship, none more so than the two-way battle to be awarded the Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy, fought out between Marco Attard and Andrew Howard.
Ecurie Ecosse driver Attard and Beechdean AMR man Howard stand head and shoulders above their rivals in this year’s Blancpain standings such that the crown can only go to one of them, and it’s Attard who has a clear advantage heading into the final event at Donington.
With 163.5 points to Howard’s 133.5, Attard certainly has one hand on the strap of the champion prize – an engraved Blancpain 8885 S watch – but as the hours tick away before Sunday’s two-hour championship decider, so the pressure builds.
“It feels like almost too much pressure but to be honest we have a small buffer and that will help me to look - if not feel - more relaxed,” says Attard, who also currently leads the GT3 Drivers Championship.
“To be fair my team-mate Alexander Sims and the team do a great job to keep me focussed and not get stressed about anything, but it’s going to be a crucial weekend.”With a maximum of 37.5 points available in the title decider, Howard needs those points available for the win, but even if Howard takes the maximum points haul, Attard only needs the points available for a seventh placed finish to take the Blancpain Trophy.
No longer in with a shout of continuing his reign as GT3 champion driver, Howard will do everything possible to still take a title in 2014.
“Having been in the championship hunt for most of this season my main focus now is on the potential to top the Blancpain Gentleman Driver standings,” he says.
“This can only be achieved by an outright win and even then the final result is in the hands of others. We didn't have the result we wanted at Brands Hatch last time out but we aim to finish the year off strongly.”
Inaugurated in 2013, when it was won by United Autosports driver Mark Patterson, the Blancpain championship adds incentive amongst the Amateur-rated drivers in British GT to prove their worth amongst their peer group.
An added element of Balncpain’s involvement is that over the course of the season, each gentleman driver who is named a ‘Driver of the Weekend’ is presented with a limited edition wall-clock replica of a famous Blancpain timepiece. This season has seen six different winners of the ‘Driver of the Weekend’ Gentleman Driver Trophy with Jon Minshaw, Derek Johnson, Howard, Lee Mowle, Attard and Jeff Smith all holding the wall-clock aloft on the winners’ podium.
In the Blancpain season standings, regardless of his weekend in Donington, Howard can’t be displaced from second position by third placed Jon Minshaw, whilst Minshaw’s third in the standings could yet be taken by Gary Eastwood, Paul White, Phil Dryburgh or Derek Johnston.
The final round of the 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship gets underway at Donington Park with practice and qualifying on Saturday 13th September with the two-hour race taking place on Sunday 14th.
Benjamin Franassovici, British GT Championship Series Manager:"The Blancpain Gentleman Driver Trophy has added an exciting new dynamic to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and it will be great to see who follows Mark Patterson in winning the Trophy. Certainly, Marco has the advantage coming into the finale at Donington but we all know in motorsport that anything can happen. We’ve seen some great competitors take the Driver of the Weekend over the course of the season and we look forward to seeing another outstanding performance take the award for the final time in 2014. Blancpain is a fantastic brand to be involved with British GT and we look forward to celebrating the new Gentleman Driver Trophy winner on Sunday."