British GT ready to roll at Rockingham

British GT: MTECH Ferrari 458With the long summer break finally over, the British GT Championship is heading to Rockingham this weekend for two one-hour races on the Northamptonshire superspeedway on Sunday 4 September, the GTs will contest rounds seven and eight of the 10-race championship. The field is expected to include in excess of 22 cars, with 16 of them contesting the top-level GT3 category.

In the battle for the championship season-long points leaders, American Mike Guasch and Yorkshireman Matt Bell, are nursing a slender two-point advantage with their United Autosports Audi R8 LMS. Breathing down their necks are Scottish father-and-son pairing Jim and Glynn Geddie, whose CRS Racing Ferrari 458 Italia has been a regular top three finisher this season.

However, catching the top two fast is the MTECH Racing Ferrari 458 of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron. They claimed their first win of 2011 last time out, at Spa-Francorchamps, and finished a strong seventh, despite some technical issues, in the FIA GT3 European Championship at Slovakia Ring. “It was a tough weekend in Slovakia,” said Griffin, “and I hope we can put all that behind us for Rockingham. We need a couple of good, solid finishes there to keep the ball rolling having turned our season around a bit. But it won’t be easy because British GT is so competitive and because Rockingham has historically suited the Porsches more than it has the Ferraris.”

Rockingham’s twin races are the last one-hour events on the British GT calendar: in late September the crews face their toughest test of the year, a three-hour classic at Donington Park, which will be followed by a two-hour curtain closer at Silverstone in October. Championship manager Benjamin Franassovicci says it will be a fascinating finale: “The three circuits coming up all offer their own unique challenges, as will the format of the races at each. The championship is wide open and will be, I think, all the way to the final round. We are expecting to see 27-plus cars on the grid at Donington, which is even more exciting.”

The other GT3 contenders lining up at Rockingham include reigning champion David Ashburn in his Trackspeed Porsche, who has two wins under his belt already this season, and a second Trackspeed 997 to be shared by Brands Hatch race winners Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman. The second CRS Ferrari 458 – which like the Geddie car will sport a striking new livery at Rockingham – will be piloted by Andrew Tate and Alex Mortimer.

The 2009 British GT Champions, David and Godfrey Jones, will be out in their Team Preci-Spark Mercedes AMG SLS, fresh from its seventh-overall success in last month’s Spa 24 Hours, while round two victors Michael Lyons and Charles Bateman will be seeking further glory in their Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458.

Aston Martin will be represented in GT3 by the Beechdean Motorsport entry of Andrew Howard and Jonathan Adam, and Corvette by the Speedworks Motorsport car of Ron Johnson and Piers Johnson, which collected a season-best sixth in class last time out. Three Ginetta G55s are expected also, Century Motorsport’s Julien Draper and Freddie Hetherington heading the pack.

There’s also a hard-fought battle going on in the GT4 class, currently headed by the ABG Motorsport pairing of Peter Belshaw and Marcus Clutton, whose KTM X-Bow has won the class three times. In July at Spa, however, there were maiden class wins for the Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta G50 of Dan Denis and David McDonald and the Ollie Jackson/Phil Glew Lotus Sport UK Evora. After their maiden GT4 podium finish at Spa, the Secure Racing team’s Aston Martin drivers Peter Erceg and Chris Holmes are aiming for more at Rockingham.

The GT3B class at Rockingham will be contested by MTECH Ferrari men John Dhillon and Aaron Scott, with the GT Cup category featuring the return of the Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid Chevron GR8.

RaceCarBuzz will be at Rockingham for all the action, so expect the usual report and pics next week.

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