The 2014 Avon Tyres British GT Championship will begin at Cheshire’s Oulton Park circuit over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and it boasts a capacity grid with some special names.
More than 30 Avon-shod muscle cars will take to the grid for the season opener of Europe’s premier national GT racing championship where the Bentley marque makes its much-anticipated return to full-time motor racing. Both Generation Bentley Racing and M-Sport will run Bentley Continental GT3s at the Easter event.
The Continental GT3s will be joined by a host of series regulars, including the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, which boasts an increased presence for 2014, the Porsche 997 GT3 R and the McLaren MP4-12C amongst others.
The GT4 class has also been bolstered for the forthcoming season, with the likes of Lotus, Toyota and BMW joining class stalwarts, Ginetta.
Several familiar faces return to the GT paddock for the forthcoming season, but they aren’t all famous for their motorsport exploits. The most notable addition to the fold is Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy, who has confirmed he will contest the 2014 season with Nissan Academy Team RJN. Hoy will race a Nissan GT-R GT3 with team-mate Alex Buncombe.
Famed for his touring car experience, Tom Onslow-Cole moves to British GT in 2014. He will race with Paul White at the Strata 21 team, also in a Nissan GT-R GT3. The 26-year-old already has some sportscar racing experience, having raced in the Dubai 24 Hours.
Another driver making the switch is British Formula Ford Champion, Dan Cammish, who will race a Porsche 911 GT4 with gentleman driver Barrie Baxter at Team Parker Racing. Cammish – who is a late addition to the 2014 field – will make his sportscar racing debut at Oulton Park, having previously only raced in single-seater series.
Both Andrew Howard (GT3) and Rick Parfitt (GT4) will be present to defend their respective titles in 2014. Howard will once again be joined by Scotsman, Jonny Adam, at his Beechdean AMR team, while Parfitt switches team and team-mate for 2014 as he moves to the Century Motorsport team with Tom Oliphant.
The two drivers’ champions both expect a tough fight to defend their titles this year, as Howard commented: “The grid looks stronger this year – it’s absolutely phenomenal. There’s competition coming from everywhere this year and it really is a proper Pro-Am championship. With the field we’ve got, there will be a lot more pressure on the Ams (amateurs) this year.”
Parfitt seconded Howard’s sentiments, saying, “The line-up through the field in GT4 is truly brilliant; it's amazing. Some of the drivers make me truly believe that GT4 is challenging GT3 for driver line-ups, if not GT4 having a slight edge.”
Avon Tyres Motorsport General Manager, Paul Coates, added, “It’s fantastic to see such positivity around the championship again this year. We’re welcoming some big names – both in terms of manufacturers and also drivers – and we have no doubt that this will make for a very exciting, closely-fought championship so it’s a great series to be involved with.”
The Avon Tyres British GT Championship begins at Oulton Park over the weekend of April 19-21. Qualifying will take place on the afternoon of Saturday, April 19, with two one-hour races being held on Monday, April 21.