ROB LAD­BROOK

“Bri­tish GT is set for much change in ’16” ”

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

Wel­come to the New Year ev­ery­body, and wel­come too to the new-look Bri­tish GT Cham­pi­onship.

This year marks one of the largest yet for Bri­tain’s premier sportscar cham­pi­onship, with change in abun­dance over the win­ter months.

We’ve had a flurry of an­nounce­ments in re­cent weeks – from dis­abled driv­ers start­ing their own teams with the back­ing of As­ton Martin fac­tory squad Pro­drive and es­tab­lished names switch­ing teams and cars, to vir­tu­ally ev­ery new or ex­ist­ing GT4 team be­ing linked with buy­ing a cou­ple of new Porsche Cay­man Club­sport GT4S.

In truth, con­sis­tency won’t be found in many ar­eas of the pit­lane come the start of this sea­son, and that’s a good thing for the ti­tle bat­tle.

Bri­tish GT show­downs in re­cent years have been ter­rific, and even last year’s was a nail-biter, de­spite it be­ing a tran­si­tional year for GT3. With new cars on the hori­zon for 2016, most teams played the hand they were dealt – re­tain­ing the same driv­ers, cars and over­all com­bi­na­tions.

This year it’s all change. The new gen­er­a­tion of GT3 chal­lengers is here. Bar­well has new Lam­borgh­ini Hu­ra­cans, Op­ti­mum has the new Audi R8 LMS, FF Corse has or­dered the Fer­rari 488 GT3 and there are heavy up­grades to ex­ist­ing ma­chines – plus a new fleet of fac­tory Bent­ley Con­ti­nen­tals cour­tesy of Team Parker Rac­ing.

There’s also been up­heaval in the driver mar­ket. Reign­ing cham­pion Jonathan Adam now sits in with TF Sport along­side Derek John­ston, while An­drew Howard will re­turn in the no.1 Van­tage, but with ris­ing star Ross Gunn along­side him.

For­mer cham­pion Marco At­tard won’t be on the grid, leav­ing Alexan­der Sims to race a part­pro­gramme along­side Liam Grif­fin. Jon Min­shaw and Phil Keen have ditched their BMW in favour of a Lambo, and Lee Mowle and Joe Os­borne will now run un­der the Amdtun­ing.com ban­ner as Triple Eight ef­fec­tively con­firms a sad GT exit to re­fo­cus on tour­ing cars.

Add all of that up and not one of the pair­ings that fin­ished in­side the top 10 in the cham­pi­onship last year re­turns on the same, con­sis­tent foot­ing.

Then add in GT4, which is en­joy­ing an ex­plo­sion of in­ter­est thanks to new mod­els and bet­ter af­ford­abil­ity against GT3.

Yes, there will be Cay­mans. Sources con­firm that at least three are headed to UK shores for var­i­ous par­ties, but don’t ex­pect all of the bought cars to start the sea­son. The Cay­man was an­nounced rel­a­tively late, and had yet to be fully ho­molo­gated into full GT4 spec at launch. Most de­liv­er­ies are also not slated un­til March, giv­ing teams lit­tle time for test­ing. In­sid­ers close to the pro­ject sug­gest the car is a weapon though.

Beechdean has a GT4 Van­tage for BRDC F4 grad­u­ates Jor­dan Al­bert and Jack Bartholomew, and there’s in­ter­est from new teams such as In2 Rac­ing, Lanan and Team Hard.

GT4 may well out­num­ber GT3 this year, but not by much. And judg­ing by the qual­ity sign­ing up in the GT3 divi­sion, we could be set for two su­perb and ex­tremely un­pre­dictable ti­tle bat­tles.

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