British GT Championship
Oulton Park - Preview
The British GT Championship heads to Oulton Park this Bank Holiday weekend with its fair share of BTCC connections in the series including two former Motorbase drivers and Shaun Hollamby's current AmD squad.
Cheshire's Oulton Park is a real monster circuit for the GTs with flying straights, tight corners and the notoriously difficult chicane. Action is always fast and furious and the unusual timetable of two 1 hour races rather than the normal single 2 hour race presents opportunities for cars with pit-stop penalties as these are taken in race 1 leaving a clean slate for the second race. It also means that qualifying is more important as it decides the grid for both races. Last, but by no means least, is that with only half the normal race distance, drivers will find it much harder to build up a big cushion and any advantage is lost for the start of race 2.
Undoubtedly the major point of discussion ahead of the Oulton Park meeting is who can halt TF Sport's championship leaders Derek Johnston and former Motorbase Performance BTCC star Jonny Adam. The pair has enjoyed an almost faultless start to the 2016 season thanks to a pole position and both race wins despite serving a 20-second pit-stop success penalty at Rockingham last time out. If they could pull off a win in the first race at Oulton Park, they would be the first pairing to win the first three races of the season since 2006.
The biggest threat to Johnston and Adam will come from another former BTCC Motorbase Performance driver in the form of Liam Griffin driving for Barwell Motorsport who lies third in the standings. Partnered by Adam Carroll, their Lamborghini had been a contender at Rockingham before a late-race drive-through dropped the #6 Huracan GT3 to fourth, however that means the pair compete without a success penalty in Oulton Park's opening race at the circuit where Griffin won and Carroll finished second last season. These boys just love racing here.
Rockingham was however kind to Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the second Barwell Lamborghini which flew past during Carroll's drive-through to finish as runner-up. They will be unlikely to challenge in race 1 after a penalty sees them stopping for seven seconds longer in the pits. This is set against a backdrop of outstanding qualifying for the pair this season where they were fastest of the Pro drivers at Rockingham following third at Brands Hatch - this would suggest the #33 Huracan GT3 could well be a contender for the win in the second race.
The action at Oulton Park is on Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday with a really classy racing package that includes not only the British GTs, but also the BRDC British F3 Championship, the Protyre Motorsport Ginetta GT5 Challenge, The Aston Martin GT Challenge and the Volkswagen Racing Cup.
The programme gets underway at 09:00 on Saturday and 08:30 on Monday so you had better be early as the bumper Bank Holiday crowd will be keen to see the action from the word go. For more information and ticket details, visit the Oulton Park web site or call the Ticket Hotline on 0843 453 9000. We will be there to bring you the action!
Published 23 May 2016