Time to fireworks and Champions to be made in British GT finale

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The last race of the 2019 British GT Championship is finally upon us this weekend and once again the SRO have had to dust off their infamous hashtag from previous years to again proclaim Sundays two hour race as being another #DoningtonDecider with many of the Championship's GT3 and GT4 class titles still very much up for grabs.

The opening races from Oulton Park back in mid April are all but a distant memory for a Championship that figured a colossal eleven examples (sometimes twelve) of Aston Martin Racing's latest turbo charged versions of the Vantage GT3 and GT4.

For many of the AMR family of teams within the Championship, pre-season testing was something that was pretty thin on the ground going into the first two races at Oulton Park as the Prodrive factory struggled to get all of the first batch of GT3 and GT4 orders out in time leaving the respective team's young and sometimes inexperienced driver crews with little preparation time within their chosen cars  beyond that of using the AMR test and development chassis'.

That aside and very quickly forgotten, the eight races completed so far this season have have left us with yet another dice around Donington Parks 2.5mile circuit (for the second time of asking this year after the demise of Rockingham Motor Speedway), this time to determine just who will win the GT3 Team, GT3 Drivers, GT3 Pro-Am Championships and the GT3 Blancpain Trophy Award as well as the GT4 Drivers, Pro-Am and Silver Cup titles.

One title has of course already been concluded with Optimum Motorsport's Ollie Wilkinson and Bradly Ellis having securing the GT3 Silver Cup honours last time out at Brands Hatch. They are also well positioned to potentially finish well within the top two or three in some of the other GT3 Championships depending upon how the results go and that would be another impressive string to the new BRDC's Rising Star's driving bow!

For the main, GT3 Championship contenders Davidson and Adam have enjoyed an extraordinary first season together after Davidson stepped up to the highest level of UK GT3 racing last year with Jetsteam Motorsport where he learned a lot from AMR factory driver Maxime Martin before joining forces with another AMR Factory driver (Adam) for this year at TF Sport. For a man to be in contention for his fourth own GT3 title and a man who has coached many of the last five gentleman driver champions - that says a lot about Adam's capabilities as not just a race driver himself but also as an outstanding driver coach.

For the crew of the #47 TF Sport Vantage GT3, their biggest issue this weekend will be overcoming their 20second additional pit stop time over their cars minimum stop time as a result of their race win last time out at Brands Hatch whilst their Barwell opponents have no such time penalty!

In GT4 we have two squads and two sets of drivers all hoping to stand upon the top step on Sunday afternoon having been proclaimed as Champions.

Having had issues with available rolling stock and then a race meeting well worth forgetting at Oulton Park sees TF Sports Tom Canning and Ashley Hand in contention at the top of the tables for both the GT4 Drivers and Silver Cup titles whilst Beechdean AMR's new GT4 recruits for this year sees their Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman up in the lead of the Pro-Am title race going into the weekend. Hand and Canning also have an additional ten second in the pit lane to contend with from their P3 finish at Brands Hatch so in their cases, the crowns are theirs to lose!!

Fletcher has also hit the headlines again this week by agreeing to stand in for someone on the BBC's Strictly dance programme so we should be seeing him tripping the light fantastic to the grid at least with many more dance references being made over the course of the weekend we're sure!!

Whilst these three cars are the only Aston's in contention for a Championship 'gong' the other eight cars across Sundays grid will obviously be key to what happens at the top of each respective Championship. Not that any will race tactically or ungentlemanly of course but its highly likely that someone like Nicki Thiim will want to end his second (and potentially last he has said previously) season within the Championship 'in style' - in other words with a race win and that will take points away from others who might need them dearly.

Thiim and co-driver Mark Farmer have had something of a 'mare of a season, last year promised so much and there were high expectations for this year but sadly early incidents and accidents for Farmer have put him into a lesser place, somewhere where his confidence has been adversely affected despite  a gutsy P2 podium from them at Silverstone.

Beechdean AMR also started with an AMR factory driver aboard the #99 car with Andrew Howard at the start to the season but a significant incident for Marco Sorensen at Le Mans at the WEC in June saw the need for him to recuperate (plus already by then the #99 car was not in a Championship contending position) so Howard 'released the Dane' and went looking for other available AMR young guns to share the experience with and help them along their racing path - hence in involvement of both Ross Gunn and Valentin Hasse-Clot with the latter seeing out the season with Howard for his first visit to Donington.

In GT4, all bar three of the drivers became part of the Aston Martin Racing Drivers Academy process (Will Moore at Academy and Plowman and Fletcher at Beechdean not being eligible) so all have been through a constant training and continuous assessment programme with the factory team and their technical partners. For some the improvement has been obvious but sadly for some, a constant stream of bad luck on track has taken its toll on quality track time whilst others have seen their progress come too late to make for any impression on the Championship.

Whatever happens, Sundays 300th British GT race will be spectacular both on and off the track with forty one cars due on the grid together with thirteen race cars of yesteryears including the very first Aston Martin (Marsh Plant V8) to win in the Championship.

It will be a great day - the weather is supposed to be great too - make sure you're there to see it!!

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

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