An exciting schedule of events for the 2011 Avon Tyres British GT Championship were revealed yesterday, as well as detailed revisions to the format of the series aimed at reinforcing its position as the country’s foremost sports car championship.
Next year British GT will visit the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, as well as top circuits in England, including the two newest track layouts - Silverstone Arena and the new-for-2011 Snetterton ‘300’. There will be eight meetings with a varied race format at each; six will feature twin ‘sprint’ races of 60-minute duration and a two a two-hour refuelling race. Precise dates for the series are yet to be finalised while championship promoter SRO strives to avoid date clashes with other international sports car championships. Importantly, there will be no clashes with the FIA GT3 Championship or the new GT Endurance Series.
“This is a superb selection of venues for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship,” said championship manager Benjamin Franassovici. “We have listened to the competitors and their ideas, brought them the circuits they desire, and will also make some revisions to the regulations that we all believe will enhance the racing, the show and the competitor experience.”
A major change to the rules is a switch from success ballast to a pit-stop time penalty formula. From next year, cars achieving success will not have their performance pegged back by the addition of extra weight but will instead be penalised with a longer driver-change pit stop.
There will be revisions also to the championship class structure, with the introduction of a GT3 ‘Class B’ to accommodate older cars which are still competitive but do not conform to the latest FIA homologations. GT3 will continue as the championship’s ‘premier division’, and there will be classes also for GT4 cars and GT Cup machinery, which will cater to cars such as those from the 2010 Porsche Carrera Cup.
Race entry fees will be pegged at 2010 rates for GT3 competitors, and there will be reduced entry fees for teams contesting GT3 Group B, GT4 and GTC. There are plans also for the introduction of a ‘Gentleman’s Trophy’, a new logo and championship rebrand. The championship’s superb TV package of Channel 4 and Motors TV coverage is set to continue.
Underlining the stature of the series and its ever-improving attractiveness to professional teams, the 2011 Avon Tyres British GT Championship already has its first declared runners: a two-car team of Audi R8 LMS sports cars from the Anglo-American United Autosports team. The squad last month revealed the identities of its first two drivers - young Brit Matthew Bell and experienced USA driver Michael Guasch - and this week confirmed that BTCC race-winner John Bintcliffe will drive the other Audi in partnership with his friend and fellow Yorshireman Jay Palmer.
“The full-season entry of a professional Audi team is a major boost for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and confirms its position as the leading sports car series in the UK,” says SRO founder and CEO Stephane Ratel. “Alongside the existing Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Ford squads, the presence of Audi shall motivate other teams to run the prestigious models that are now available in an ever-growing GT category. Our main effort over the winter will be to convince current and new teams to run BMW, Mercedes and Lamborghini cars to give British GT the most diverse and professional grid in years.”