Grid set for Mondays opening British GT races under fines skies of an Easter Oulton Park

Saturday, April 08, 2023


Also enjoying fine Easter sunshine at one of the country’s northern race circuits has been the British GT Championship where another capacity grid of thirty-six cars enjoyed a day’s worth of private testing yesterday before today’s officially timed Free Practice sessions around Oulton Park.

Building momentum towards Easter Monday’s two one-hour sprint races, the two Aston Martin Racing powered teams of Beechdean AMR within the GT3 class and the R-Racing team within the GT4 class have both been working upon those small improvements that saw the #23 R-Racing car of Seb Hopkins and Josh Miller finish FP1 second fastest in class before the #97 Beechdean car of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn finished FP2 at the top of the timing screen.

Of course, private testing and Free Practice laps times mean nothing towards the end goal of Championship points as the real work started this afternoon when each driver was required to post a Qualifying lap time of their own where their aggregated times would be used to determine their race 1 and race 2 starting positions.

The GT3 Am’s were first out with Howard at the wheel of his re-colour schemed Vantage GT3 where he posted an early ‘banker’ lap worthy of a P2 position at the time as all chased the lead time set by the #4 2 Seas Mercedes AMG of James Cottingham. Howard would finish his ten-minute session P6 overall but P4 within his Pro-Am Class with a lap time that beat his personal best so far.

Gunn was up next as the team’s new resident Pro-rated driver amongst a new ‘who’s who’ of eight factory drivers leaving little room for any errors to go unpunished. This session was however cut short when the #77 Enduro McLaren went off heavily at Shell, bringing out the red flag. Timing at the time had Gunn in P5 just half a second off the lead pace of the #1 2 Seas Mercedes.

Next up were the GT4 cars with Josh Miller out first in the #23 R-Racing Vantage. With a year of experience now safely under his and co-driver’s Seb Hopkins belts, that with refreshed confidence allowed him to push the pace setting McLaren hard to eventually finish P2, just 0.314 of a second behind.

Finally, it was Hopkins turn to run his AMR Qualifying debut having run in a Porsche last season, but nobody could catch the flying #90 Optimum McLaren with Hopkins eventually finishing P6 and just over two seconds behind.

Combined results mean that the #97 Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 will start race 1 in sixth and race 2 in fifth whilst the #23 R-Racing AMR Vantage will start Race 1 fifth in class and Race 2 from fourth in class.

After all of that excitement, the crews will now enjoy Easter Sunday away from the circuit ahead of their next track action during morning warm up on Monday but one last question - how will Mother Nature fare over the circuit then??

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey / Drew Gibson
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