British GT kicks off its 2024 season from Oulton Park

Sunday, March 31, 2024


It was the first day back of a new season for both the British GT Championship and FFSA GT4 Series yesterday as each prepared themselves for their disjointed season opener because of the Easter weekend at both Oulton Park and Nogaro respectively.

Up in the north of the UK, the British GT Championship again welcomed another healthy grid of a new equal GT3/GT4 split as this time five crews would be competing within both new and old(er) Aston Martin Racing powered machinery.

Having seen all out at the Media Day from Donington Park just a couple of weeks ago, yesterday was the first time that we enjoyed seeing both new Forsetti Motorsport AMR Vantage GT4 power plants as they (as well as the Racing Spirit of Leman team within the FFSA) enjoyed a ‘just in time’ delivery service of their new cars from Prodrive.

Unfortunately, the joys of such a spectacle of five Aston Martins quickly faded as the consequences of an ‘off’ around Oulton Park came to bite the #10 Blackthorn AMR Vantage GT3 of Matt Topham during the days earlier Free Practice session. A prolonged red flag for barrier repairs at the Shell Oil’s hairpin only suggested a very heavy impact for the #10 car and put paid to their days running – much like a similar incident for co-driver Josh Rowledge at media day. An overnight run of spares from the Prodrive factory will hopefully have that car back up and running in time for Monday’s warm up but they will start from the rear of the GT3 class for each of Mondays races.

Progressive steps were the order of the day for the other Vantage GT3 crews as Jessica Hawkins reassociated herself with the circuit as she and Andrew Howard embarked upon the first steps of their 2024 Silver-Am partnership within their all-new Vantage GT3.

Despite an early off, the #97 crew completed their two qualifying sessions to start their new season together from P5 (Howard) and P4 (Hawkins) on Monday.

With the sole AMR powered GT3 Pro-Am entered car, it was the same tentative steps forward for Giacomo Petrobelli as he drove his older #87 Blackthorn AMR Vantage GT3 (16A) car around the Cheshire circuit for the first time with works driver Jonny Adam to guide him.

Not knowing just how the Balance of Performance is working within the Championship between both iterations of Vantage GT3, the #87 crew were having issues dialling both themselves and the car into the circuit (compared to similar skilled crews around them) and they will start their season off with P11 (Petrobelli) and P9 (Adam) in tomorrow’s two one-hour races.

Then there was the Forsetti team. Clearly, their elective participation within the GT4 Winter Series earlier this year has given both their Silver Cup and Pro-Am crews the march on their competitors as both delivered pole position starts during qualifying.

Beating their former GT4 Winter Series opponents within the #90 McLaren Altura, Day secured a front row start for race one by nearly a second whilst Marc Warren grabbed Pro-Am top honours nearly another second behind the #90 car and over 1.3 seconds ahead of the next best runner.

Porter would again show his progression in the GT4 class since his step up from Ginetta’s at the end of last season by bringing his #7 car home P8 overall but P3 in class whilst Will Orton would complete his first GT4 Qualifying session P9 overall and P6 within Pro-Am.

All this again points to two very competitive hour-long races on Easter Monday as thirty-six cars prepare to do battle once again. Then – there is always what the Easter Bank Holiday weekend weather has to offer to add into the mix as well!!

Photo credits – Jacob Ebrey / AMR
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