Spiritual home of motor racing awaits British GT

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The Independent Online

The highlight of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship calendar is its annual visit to the spiritual home of sports car racing, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, and this year the popular round is set to be more exciting than ever thanks to a host of new sporting features and the return of the fearsome Ford GT.

RPM Motorsport has this week confirmed that its GT will rejoin the championship from the Spa race onwards, with Alex Mortimer and Philip Walker, who drove the car to victory together at Donington Park last season, renewing their partnership in Belgium.

Not the least of the sporting changes for the 5 June Spa event is that the race distance has been lengthened to two-and-a-half hours with two mandatory pit stops and double championship points up for grabs. This new race format opens up a host of different strategies to the teams and brings the requirement for slick and safe pit work into play. Teams may, if they wish, add a third driver to their line-up.

Championship manager Benjamin Franassovici says the Spa race, which will run alongside the domestic Belcar sports car series, will be a challenging one for the Avon Tyres British GT squads: "The teams are used to 60-minute races, and Spa will be 150 minutes with two refuelling stops," he said. "Teams will have to think carefully about their strategies, there's always a chance of rain in the heart of Belgium, and when you throw in the added challenge of Eau Rouge and two-and-a-half hours of racing, we are expecting some interesting results."

Aston Martin GT3 returns to the grid, with the Barwell-Cadena DBRS9 of Paul Whight and Michael Bentwood rejoining the series following its strong showing at Oulton Park last month.

One hour of practice and a full hour of qualifying are scheduled for Friday 4 June, with round five of the championship set to commence at mid-morning the following day. 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.