British GT Championship leaders eyeing early titles

British GT Championship leaders eyeing early titles

AS BRANDS HATCH HOSTS PENULTIMATE ROUND


Compensation Time likely to hinder Cottingham and Adam’s bid for GT3 history
Brown and Clark well placed to seal GT4 crown 


The Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s overall drivers’ titles could be decided with a race to spare this weekend at Brands Hatch where ¬James Cottingham and Jonny Adam, and Jack Brown and Charles Clark both enjoy considerable advantages in their respective GT3 and GT4 classes.


A third win of the season last time out in the Algarve helped the #4 2 Seas Motorsport crew extend their lead to 28 points. 37.5 is required for Cottingham and Adam to become the first drivers since 2010 to seal the GT3 crown at the penultimate round, although the maximum 20-second Pitstop Compensation Time will certainly hinder their chances.


That same feat was last achieved two years ago in GT4 by Gus Burton and Will Burns. Now Optimum Motorsport’s Brown and Clark have a realistic chance to match their achievement thanks to a considerable 33-point lead. Retirement notwithstanding, they are also odds-on to clinch the Silver class title on Sunday.


Back at the front, 2 Seas now has an almost unassailable lead in the GT3 teams’ championship. Barwell can only overturn its 123.5-point deficit by finishing first and second at the final two events.


Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt are 14 points clear of primary GT3 Silver-Am rivals Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha, who won the class at Portimao, while GT4’s back and forth Pro-Am tussle involving Ian Gough/Tom Wrigley, Carl Cavers/Lewis Plato, Ed McDermott/Mikey Broadhurst and new leaders as well as the Algarve’s overall GT4 winners Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld looks set to continue.


British GT will also complete its 15,000th lap on Sunday. Just two more are required in what will be the championship’s 335th race.


Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s two-hour race are both live on Sky Sports F1 and SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.


GT3: ADAM TARGETING A BIT MORE BRITISH GT HISTORY


Andrew Howard, Derek Johnston, Flick Haigh and Graham Davidson all clinched British GT3 wins and titles with Jonny Adam. Now he has the chance to extend his own record to five when he lines up with James Cottingham this Sunday.


Three victories this year have also helped the Scot draw level with Phil Keen on 19. The most recent of those in Portugal six weeks ago leaves the #4 crew with an extra 20 seconds to serve at Brands, but such is their advantage that even the likes of fourth or fifth place could be enough to guarantee the crown.


However, that also depends on what their main rivals can muster, and two of them – Darren Leung and Dan Harper, plus Ian Loggie – are competing without Compensation Time.


A penalty restricted Century’s BMW to fifth in Portugal where Leung and Harper had the pace to be closer to Cottingham/Adam. A big result at Brands Hatch – a circuit where Leung made his British GT debut in the GT4 class only 12 months ago – is crucial to first and foremost prolonging the title battle but also reducing #91’s arrears sufficiently to maintain a realistic chance at Donington.


Loggie, meanwhile, has no choice but to beat his team-mates if the D2-liveried Mercedes-AMG is to remain a contender next time out. The reigning champion starts 38 points behind – 0.5 more than available for winning – but he does have the added bonus of sharing with Jules Gounon after the French-Andorran missed Portimao.


Only podiums will suffice if Shaun Balfe and Sandy Mitchell (Barwell Motorsport) and John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello (RAM Racing) are to remain viable title contenders, although their fate is now in Cottingham and Adam’s hands. The Lamborghini and Mercedes-AMG start 48 and 49.5 points behind, respectively, which is partly thanks to one non-score apiece compared with the top three’s 100% finishing records.


Mark Radcliffe and Rob Bell collected their second podium of the season in the Algarve. But although still mathematical contenders, their 62-point deficit appears too much to overcome.


Elsewhere, Silver-Am’s current top three shared the podium in Portugal where Mark Sansom and Will Tregurtha ended Kevin Tse and Chris Froggatt’s run of three consecutive class wins. Another this weekend would leave the title race wide open at Donington Decider next month where Iain Campbell and James Kell will also feature if they’re able to score a first win since Oulton at Brands.


Richard and Sam Neary will also be at Silver-Am’s sharp end, but they could trouble the overall podium as well if last year’s form is anything to go by. A fuel pump failure with two laps remaining robbed Abba’s Mercedes-AMG of victory, which instead went to Enduro’s Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton.


The McLaren of Orange Racing by JMH and Greystone GT’s Mercedes-AMG both return after skipping Portimao, although the latter’s 720S is unable to compete this weekend. The same goes for RACE LAB’s McLaren, and specifically Lucky Khera who has picked up an injury, plus Garage 59 whose 720S must be rebuilt in time for its Fanatec GT Europe outing at Valencia next week.


Last year’s winners, Enduro, are also missing. However, their McLaren is confirmed for Donington’s finale.


GT4: BROWN AND CLARK ON COURSE FOR EARLY TITLE


Contact on the opening lap and maximum Compensation Time prevented Jack Brown and Charles Clark from potentially sealing the crown with two races remaining in Portugal. However, such has been their dominance this year that a second – and far more realistic – chance now presents itself at the penultimate round.


For starters, Optimum’s McLaren races penalty-free, while its nearest rival – Century’s BMW shared by Michael Johnston and Chris Salkeld – is subject to the maximum 20 seconds. They are currently 33 points behind but 1.5 clear of Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley (RACE LAB) who compete penalty-free. Realistically, both must finish ahead of Brown/Clark if the championship is to remain undecided.


Despite starting marginally behind, it’s actually Gough and Wrigley who head to Brands with the better odds of making up ground. Their Pro-Am status equates to a 26-second shorter stop than Silver entries like Optimum’s.


Johnston and Salkeld were excellent en route to their first overall British GT wins last time out, which not only brought them into GT4 title contention but also vaulted them into the Pro-Am lead. Their Compensation Time is six seconds shorter than Brown and Clark will serve for being a Silver pair, so all is not lost, but such is the 33-point deficit that they will likely have to beat the McLaren to contend for the overall title at Donington.


Likewise Aston Millar and Josh Rowledge who are yet to fully recover from their Donington DNF in May. That’s not to say DTO’s teenagers haven’t bounced back since then – indeed, only one crew has scored more points over the last three races – but they still remain more than a win adrift of Brown and Clark, and now have an additional 10 seconds of Compensation Time to contend with this weekend.


Early retirement in Portugal has effectively, but not mathematically, also knocked Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato out of the overall championship battle. However, they still have plenty to play for in Pro-Am where team-mates Johnston/Salkeld start 22.5 points ahead, while the crews’ combined performances leave Century 40.5 points clear of their nearest rivals in the teams’ standings. A 37.5-point advantage over Optimum or 64.5-point lead over fellow two-car operation Academy would be enough for Century to seal the crown before season’s end.


Elsewhere, newcomer Morgan Short – the son of British GT winner Martin – joins Tom Holland in Raceway’s #55 Ginetta, while Aaron Morgan, Bobby Trundley and Team BRIT’s McLaren 570S GT4 all make first appearances since Silverstone.


Pro-Am championship challengers Ed McDermott and Mikey Broadhurst have also swapped teams after moving across to experienced Mercedes-AMG entrant Team Abba. It represents a reunion of sorts for McDermott who previously raced with the outfit in GT Cup last season. 


TIMETABLE
Saturday 9 September
09:30 – 10:30: Free Practice 1
12:35 – 13:35: Free Practice 2 / Pre-Qualifying
15:55 – 16:05: Qualifying – GT3 Q1
16:09 – 16:19: Qualifying – GT3 Q2
16:23 – 16:33: Qualifying – GT4 Q1
16:38 – 16:48: Qualifying – GT4 Q2

Sunday 10 September
09:05 – 09:45: Pitwalk/autograph session
10:00 – 10:15: Warm-up
13:30 – 15:30: Race


LAP RECORDS
GT3 – 1m24.695s – Jonny Adam – TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage – 2016
GT4 – 1m32.197s – Charlie Robertson – Assetto Motorsport Ginetta G56 GT4 – 2021


PITSTOP SPECIFICS – TWO-HOUR RACE
The number of driver changes are free but there are minimum and maximum total drive times for the starting driver. In GT4 starting drivers must complete a minimum of 58 minutes, while in GT3 this rises to 62 minutes. All classes share the same maximum starting drive time of 70 minutes.

Mandatory Pitstop Times (pit-in to pit-out)
GT3: 115s | GT4: 145s

Pitstop Success Penalties
20s – #4 2 Seas Motorsport – James Cottingham & Jonny Adam
15s – #27 Optimum Motorsport – Mark Radcliffe & Rob Bell
10s – #78 Barwell Motorsport – Shaun Balfe & Sandy Mitchell

20s – #14 Century Motorsport – Michael Johnston & Chris Salkeld
15s – #17 Enduro Motorsport – Harry George & Darren Burke
10s – #36 DTO Motorsport – Aston Millar & Josh Rowledge

All GT4 Silver Cup entries must serve an additional 26 seconds during their mandatory driver changes and carry 25kg of ballast.


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