British GT - Rockingham preview

Friday, April 27, 2018

By the looks of it, it will be another damp start for the teams and drivers as the second round of the British GT Championship kicks off from Rockingham circuit tomorrow.

For many, it will be a case of still trying to dry out from the monsoon like conditions that befell the opening round of the Championship from Oulton Park at the start of April and to try to comprehend what actually happened during the opening event.

For the new Optimum Motorsport crew of Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam, the first race from Oulton Park was a dream come true providing them with a day of many firsts as Haigh scooped the accolades for being the first woman to achieve outright pole, outright win and in securing the Blancpain drivers award and with Adam also extending his own winning streak record within the Championship.

Close behind them on the podium for Race 1 were the returning Beechdean AMR crew of Andrew Howard with championship 'newbie' Darren Turner who earned themselves a very commendable and just deserved second in some extremely difficult track conditions in their first event back in the Championship for over a year.

For former GT3 Champions TF Sport, Race 1 was a race of 'what could have been' as early spins for their respective gentlemen drivers Mark Farmer and Derek Johnston always left them on the back foot, wasting good qualifying positions and leaving their AMR factory drivers Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen much to do to wrestle their cars anywhere to recover from their earlier mistakes to finish in the lonely midfield.

Series newcomers Jetstream Motorsport, it was always a case of Oulton Park being a steep learning curve for Graham Davidson and his Pro driver, AMR factory driver Maxime Martin having previously had little time together or in the car itself.

Rounding off the AMR entries were of course the two Academy Motorsport V8 Vantage GT4 cars of Matt Nichol-Jones pairing up again with Will Moore as well as Jan Jonck swapping from MacMillan to join former Ginetta Junior driver Tom Wood.

For that team Oulton Park was a very injurious round for their two cars with Jonck badly damaging his GT4 during Free Practice, Will Moore being forced off and heavily into the tyre wall on the opening lap as well as Wood then having a very close call with the barrier for little/no reward in what is now a highly competitive class.

Then, and on top of all of that we had the post race 'controversy' of the abandoned Race 2 being declared a result after just four laps behind the Safety Car - a decision (although correct) sadly relegated the #75 Optimum car from the top of the table to P5 having spun off on the grid formation lap and not being classified at the point of that race being red flagged.

Certainly, TF Sport will be looking to come back from the disappointments of Oulton Park in a very dramatic fashion with a circuit being very suited to the driving characteristics of the V12 Vantage - remember how Jack Mitchell and James Littlejohn dominated last years two hour race before being pipped at the post by the chasing pack! The teams double podium from the abandoned race will only  penalise their two cars by now having to serve an extended minimum pit stop during Sundays race.

Optimum will be looking to prove that Race 1 last time also wasn't a fluke, certainly Haigh more than proved her worth driving in the wet around the twists and turns of Oulton so the more open layout of Rockingham should be easier whilst Jetstream will seek to benefit from their increased track time together in their new car to look for a stronger finish.

The weather for tomorrow's Free Practice and Qualifying sessions looks like heavy showers will periodically affect track proceedings through the day whereas Sunday features a Met Office Yellow weather warning for rain! Whilst the circuits infield sections are quite spacious, the main concern will surely be 'loosing' the car on the tracks fast, swapping banked sections either side of the start/finish line where any loss of control would result in serious damage to their machinery from the unforgiving wall.

Sunday's two hour race starts at 13:10 and will again be streamed live from the Championship's Youtube channels

Photo credits - Jacob Ebrey

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