Sam Smelt and James Kell to team up behind the wheel for full season
Speedworks Motorsport will enter a brand-new Toyota GR Supra GT4 in the 2020 British GT Championship, having been selected by Toyota Motorsport GmbH as a priority team, with Sam Smelt and James Kell set to share the 430bhp sportscar.
The Toyota GR Supra GT4 is based on the GR Supra – Toyota GAZOO Racing’s first ever global road going model, released in 2019 – and has been developed and produced by TMG for Toyota GAZOO Racing. A race car for customer teams, its lightweight steel body houses a potent three-litre, in-line six-cylinder engine with single twin-scroll turbocharger, a seven speed sports automatic transmission with paddle shift gears, an Akrapovič exhaust system and mechanical limited-slip differential driving the rear wheels.
For the car’s competitive debut, TMG has turned to Speedworks, champions in British GT’s GT4 class in 2010. Indeed, the Cheshire squad boasts a wealth of sportscar racing experience and success having similarly fielded cars and picked up trophies in recent years in the ACO-endorsed LMP3 Cup Championship and international 24H Series.
Over the last decade, Speedworks has firmly established itself as one of the leading lights in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), clinching consecutive Independent Drivers’ and Teams’ crowns with a Toyota Avensis in 2017 and 2018. Last year, the team took the new Toyota Corolla to four victories in the UK’s premier motorsport series under the Team Toyota GB banner, as the Northwich-based outfit ran as a factory-backed Manufacturer entrant for the first time.
That relationship has now been strengthened by the addition of the British GT programme, following Speedworks’ selection to field one of the first six Toyota GR Supra GT4s to emerge from the TMG stable. The team tested the car at former Spanish Grand Prix venue Jarama in December, and subsequently waxed lyrical about its potential and prowess.
The Toyota GR Supra GT4 will be crewed throughout the forthcoming campaign by 23-year-old Smelt – who competed in the BTCC in 2018 and last season partnered Árón Taylor-Smith in a Ford Mustang in British GT’s GT4 category – and James Kell, who only began racing two years ago but is already rapidly making a name for himself in the sport. The 22-year-old contested the Ginetta GT4 SuperCup in 2019, finishing an excellent third out of 16 at ‘AM’ level with two class wins to his credit – and, notably, reaching the podium outright on his debut at Brands Hatch.
The pair will team up for the first time in the Oulton Park curtain-raiser over Easter weekend (11-13 April). The fiercely-disputed series then heads to Snetterton, Silverstone, Donington Park, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium and Brands Hatch – representing no fewer than four legendary current or ex-Formula 1 circuits – before concluding with the ninth and final round back at Donington Park on 19-20 September. The races will vary between one and three hours in duration.
Christian Dick, Team Principal, Speedworks Motorsport, said:
“We’re delighted to have been entrusted with running the new Toyota GR Supra GT4 in the British GT Championship this season. Having been lucky enough to see the development and subsequent performance of the car up close myself in Spain, I can vouch for the fact that it is a tremendously impressive piece of kit – superbly built with plenty of grunt – and this programme will dovetail really nicely with our BTCC commitments.
“In Sam and James, we have a young, dynamic silver/silver line-up, which offers us a fantastic opportunity to work with two talented up-and-coming drivers and to assist in the development of their careers. They are both clearly fast learners, and we are confident that they will benefit greatly from the combined knowledge and expertise at their disposal between ourselves and TMG.
“Our main aim this year is to prove the Toyota GR Supra GT4’s potential in the hugely competitive GT4 arena. The project has come together quite late so we are remaining realistic about our expectations to begin with, but with the technical and engineering support of TMG, I’m sure we will soon have a solid understanding of the car and be on the pace very quickly.”
Florian von Hasselbach, Senior Engineer Customer Motorsport, Toyota Motorsport GmbH, said:
“We are delighted to work with Speedworks to introduce the GR Supra GT4 car to Great Britain. There was large customer demand for this car so the process of selecting teams wasn’t easy. We put a priority on establishing strong technical relationships with these first customers so we can learn from them and optimise the support we deliver to all GR Supra GT4 owners in the future.
“Thanks to Speedworks’ BTCC programme with Toyota, we know how professional and dedicated they are, so we are convinced they will be able to show, via the driving skills of Sam and James, the potential of the GR Supra GT4 at tracks across the country.”
Sam Smelt, Driver, Toyota GR Supra GT4, Speedworks Motorsport, said:
“I want to start by saying how much I’m looking forward to this season with Speedworks and the Toyota GR Supra GT4, in what should be a really competitive British GT Championship. I can’t wait for the car to arrive and to get behind the wheel, and it will be exciting to build on its performance right from the first test. I’m confident we can develop a strong package and with a year in the series now under my belt, the aim is to challenge for some great results in 2020.”
James Kell, Driver, Toyota GR Supra GT4, Speedworks Motorsport, said:
“I am totally thrilled to be part of the new Speedworks Toyota attack in the British GT Championship, and I’m looking forward to driving the all-new Toyota GR Supra GT4 this season. It’s exciting to be a member of an amazing team like Speedworks, driving with Sam, and to get involved in the launch of an entirely new car in British GT – especially when it carries the name Supra...”