British GT Media Day notes

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Despite a confirmed full season entry of thirty six GT cars, Thursday's British GT Championship Media Day left for an emptier paddock than usual as an untimely diary clash led to the non-attendance of nearly half of the Aston Martin Racing entry.

2018 sees the return of Tom Ferrier, his TF Sport team and his two AMR V12 Vantage GT3 entries from gentlemen drivers Derek Johnston and Mark Farmer. Having unsuccessfully defended their GT3 title of 2016, they will be this year without regular Pro drivers Jonny Adam and Jon Barnes as the #17 and #11 cars will run a distinctly AMR driver line up as WEC factory drivers Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim join the party.

With the Danes sadly absent from the Media Day event due to factory commitments in Europe this weekend, driving duties and paddock chat were left down to Johnston, Farmer and a very excited expectant father in Ferrier to do.

"The offer of the two Danes was a no brainer" said Ferrier "and they're freckin fast as well" seemed to be the quote that stuck in our head!

On the track, the team sat out for most of the first session not wanting to risk anything around the cold and very wet Grand Prix circuit. Farmer claimed early season bragging rights by being the fastest of the pair throughout the day before aviation restrictions forced him to leave the circuit early to fly home in the remaining daylight - a strange excuse for the boss indeed!!

A very bullish Johnston was full of himself throughout the day, clearly looking forward to as season with Sorensen. Even a late and somewhat heavy 'off' in the final session wasn't enough to dampen his spirits after being spun around into the tyre wall by a slower GT4.

Media Day represented itself as the final day of testing for the TF Sport team ahead of the series opener at Oulton Park at the end of the month. Sorensen did apparently grab some last minute testing with the team at Oulton on Wednesday although the team didn't really want to elaborate too much on that. The damage to Johnston's car was enough to make it an insurance claim but many of the damaged parts had reached the end of the life and were due to be replaced anyway before the start of the season.

The only other Aston Martin Racing car at the track were series and AMR debutants Jetstream Motorsport and their #47 former Oman Racing V12 Vantage GT3. Donington was the first significant running of the car for this team having stepped up from a McLaren MP4-12C that they ran with great success in the GT Cup Champion last year.

Gentleman driver Graham Davidson looked at times like a rabbit staring in the oncoming headlights as he took everything in as well as meeting his new, AMR appointed WEC factory driver Maxime Martin for the first time in a race suit.

Stating that he'd only done about 10miles in shakedown before Media day, the differences in machinery and the slippery conditions on track were leading to a very steep learning curve for the Scot but was glad to have factory assistance with his new venture. For Martin, returning to Donington was his first since his Renault Megane days back in 2007 and was clearly looking forward to race against four of his AMR WEC colleagues although sim testing would be filling many of his spare days over the season.

Confirmed upon the entry but not present at the Media Day test were the Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and Darren Turner, the Optimum Motorsport V12 Vantage GT3 of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam and the two Academy Motorsport V8 Vantage GT4's of Matt Nichol-Jones/Will Moore and Jan Jonck/Tom Wood. They had all elected to attend the AMR Collective test in Portimao, Portugal all in the hope of some extended dry running conditions over the three day test.

Unfortunately for them, that was not to be as the first two days were affected by some torrential and persistent rain. Despite their AMR WEC factory commitments over the weekend both Turner and Adam did attended two days of the customer test to help their co-drivers respective co-drivers Howard and Haigh get up to speed having swapped platforms from what they raced in 2017.

We were hoping to see the new liveries applied to both of these GT3's but that sadly wasn't to be.

Academy Motorsport meanwhile have a very busy season ahead of them having had two cars confirmed now in both the British GT and the GT4 European Series for 2018. Will Moore has again be confirmed to be as returning to the team in BGT for 2018 whilst former MacMillan GT4 running Jan Jonck pairs up with Ginetta Junior graduate Tom Wood for his first experience of GT racing.

First round of the 2018 British GT Championship kicks off at its traditional Easter weekend venue of Oulton Park in Cheshire. Track action starts on the 31st March, misses out Easter Sunday for racing on the Bank Holiday Monday.

Game on ...............!!

In memory of Henry Hope-Frost


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