Cheshire-based teams Speedworks Motorsport and ABG Motorsport are the latest squads to confirm plans for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship. Speedworks is to field a Ginetta and ABG a KTM X-Bow in the new-for-2010 'G4' category, which brings together homologated GT4 cars and Supersports machinery.
The G4 class is growing apace, with at least seven cars expected on the Oulton Park grid on 5 April for the championship's opening rounds and further competitors joining the party later in the season. In addition to the G4 machines at least a dozen GT3 cars will be in action at Oulton, with new competitors in the GT Cup class, drawn from the Porsche Cup and Ferrari Challenge, helping to expand the field to more than 20 cars in total for Oulton Park and the rest of the season.
Speedworks' Ginetta G50 will be driven by team principal and co-founder Christian Dick and Jamie Stanley, who won 11 times in the Lotus Elise Trophy in 2009. Chester-based Stanley said: "It's a natural step up for me after my success in the Lotus. The Avon Tyres British GT Championship is an international-level series with a good reputation; I'm confident that it is the best place for me to take the next step in my career."
Stanley, Dick and the Sandbach-based Speedworks team are sponsored by fishing equipment manufacturer FOX International. Christian, who enjoyed two successful British GT outings last year, added: "It's a great move for the team to be racing in a major international championship, and we take a lot of confidence into the season after our performances last year. It's a competitive series with a lot of strong drivers and teams, but Speedworks has had an enormous amount of experience and success in running the Ginetta G50, and Jamie is a strong driver, so we hope to be fighting for race wins and the title."
ABG Motorsport's KTM entry will be driven by reigning Scottish Formula Ford Champion Rory Butcher and Benjamin Harvey. Said team boss Peter Hignett: "ABG Motorsport has made a commitment to British GT to enter an X-Bow for the full championship. We have a strong driver pairing which gives us confidence for the season."
It will be 22-year-old Butcher's first full sports car racing campaign; his team-mate Harvey began his track career last season at the wheel of a Porsche 996. Said Rory: "I am glad to have it all sorted because it is still only March. We have testing sorted - we'll be going to Spa, Oulton Park and Rockingham. It is a great feeling to be so organised. It is a massive opportunity for me and a step up. This is going to be a tough year but I am really looking forward to the challenge."
There will be at least four Ginettas in action at Oulton Park. Another of them is to be fielded by Team Osborne Racing for 2009 GT4 European Cup title winner Joe Osborne and Osman Yusuf. Joe, 21, is no stranger to British GT success: he was a double outright race winner at Rockingham last season at the wheel of the Barwell Motorsport-prepared Invitation class Ginetta G50Z.
"I'm really looking forward to British GT again," said Osborne. "Running a team will certainly be a steep learning curve. I hope to do this and FIA GT3. Osman is coming on very well; he will be close to pace at all the tracks. The Ginetta we are using is the same car I won European GT4 with last year, so we know it's a quick car."
Added Osman: "I know it's going to be a hard year for me as I have very little experience. So far testing has gone very well and Joe is pushing me harder to get me quicker. I'm really looking forward to it."
A third Ginetta will be run by Team GCR for former Formula 3 and Le Mans Endurance Series racer John Ingram and Tom Dunstan, whose career began in single-seaters and which progressed via the Ginetta G50 Cup to the Euro GT4 series.
Team principal Robin Sherwood said: "We had always aspired to join the Avon Tyres British GT Championship, but timing always remained a crucial factor. With the changes that have been made to the championship format for 2010, the time is now ripe for us to launch our assault. Knowing that HayFisher Productions will continue to provide their excellent television coverage for the series was also a compelling reason in our decision making.
"Strong competition across all categories is key for us, as the excitement of the championship as a whole will be infectious for our partners and the public in general. We will not be there to make up the numbers, and we expect to be a strong contender. All members of our team are relishing the challenge and we look forward to the season ahead."
The Ginetta brigade will be facing fierce opposition this season from several directions, not least from the Piranha Motorsport Lotus 2-Eleven of Chris Bialan and Simon Mason and a Nissan 350Z from ProMotorsport. Bialan and Mason will be paired at all rounds of the championship except Spa, which Simon will be forced to miss due to track commitments elsewhere. Piranha is taking delivery of an upgrade kit next week and plans to test imminently. ProMotorsport's Nissan will be handled at Oulton by Derek Palmer and Rick Pearson, both of whom tackled the GT4 European Cup with success in 2009. Faithless front man Maxi Jazz will race in later rounds.
Later in the season the Euro GT4 championship-winning team RJN Motorsport will join British GT with one of its Nissan 350Zs, and British GT manager Benjamin Franassovici hopes to see further marques represented in G4: "It is certain that G4 is going to be a competitive class this season, with at least seven cars and four marques represented at the opening rounds. There is strong interest also from further teams running Aston Martins and Lotus cars, including the new Evora, so I believe G4 will grow further still."
Franassovici says plans are well advanced for a 'Balance of Performance' test at Silverstone to ensure the equivalence with other GT3 cars of the nationally homologated Mosler which Rollcentre Racing plans to enter in British GT: "It is essential to ensure a level playing field and organizing a national BoP test, in addition to the FIA official test, is the right way to evaluate and guarantee that we have this level playing field; it is in the interest of teams, drivers and stakeholder in the series."
British GT is sponsored by UK tyre manufacturer Avon Tyres and is further supported by Sunoco Racing Fuels, Anglo American Oil Company and The Independent. The season features 13 races, including two-hour endurance events at Silverstone and 'into the night' at Donington, as well as a 150-minute race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.