Media Day: The Rumble Before The Roar
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The 2015 Avon Tyres British GT Championship got rolling earlier this week at the championship’s annual pre-season Media Day taking place on the Brands Hatch Indy Circuit. It didn’t take long for announcements galore as Oman Racing Team (Motorbase Performance) unveiled a third Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to be piloted by Phil Dryburgh and BTCC driver Matt Jackson, bumping the already healthy attendance from 27 to 28 on the day.
Joining Oman Racing Team on the boat with new announcements was AmDtuning.com who confirmed that they were joining the series in their new Porsche 997 GT4, to be driven by Shaun Hollamby and Graham Coomes. Also notable with a new entry was RAM Racing with their Mercedes SLS GT3 driven by Lewis Plato and Alistair MacKinnon joining the previously announced pair of McLaren 650S GT3’s of VonRyanRacing.
More announcements came in the press conference at lunchtime with SRO’s Stephane Ratel and MSV’s Jonathan Palmer breaking the news that the Duo BRDC Formula 4 Championship would be joining the Avon Tyres British GT Championship package. The Formula 4 Championship did have test sessions on the day, however only two cars ran as the rest of the field apparently elected to run at Silverstone instead.
Stephane Ratel also proudly announced that the Avon Tyres British GT Championship was running their fourth-straight year at full capacity with 34 cars, most notably with an even split between the two GT3 and GT4 categories. Joining this was the announcement of Petronas becoming the series lubricants partner, joining their Anglo American Oil Company, Sunoco who are the series fuel supplier.
Back to the on track action, firstly with the negatives out the way with things not going smoothly for the #53 Lotus Evora GT4 of Ultra Tek Racing going off at Paddock almost instantly, rear ending the tyre wall and missing the rest of the day’s session. In addition to this there were notable no shows from defending champions Marco Attard’s Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 and Triple Eight Racing – also using a Z4 this year – who were testing at Paul Ricard. Joining them on the absentee list were the Ferrari 458 Italias of Rosso Verde and FF Corse along with the Preci – Spark Mercedes SLS. The generously named Team Russia by Barwell Racing with Demon Tweeks BMW Z4 was present but did not run, the same went for the Stratton Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of the Edwards sisters.
Timing that was available on the day did indicate that in the GT3 class the 2015 series runner up Ahmad Al Earthy was on the pace with Oman Racing along with team mate Daniel Lloyd. The Beechdean AMR team also showed pace, which was expected, along with series newcomers RAM Racing. There was no timing available for the VonRyanRacing McLarens, but from inspection they appeared to be on the pace.
Meanwhile in the GT4 class, this looked very competitive between the various Aston Martin Vantages and Ginetta G55s, with Twisted Team Parker, Academy Motorsport, Fox Motorsport, Beechdean GT4 and the winner of the contest for longest team name, Professional Motorsport World Expo racing with Optimum. There was extra attention being paid to the Beechdean GT4 squad who were running the series’ youngest driver; 16 year old Jamie Chadwick.
It’s worth noting that not much can be read into pre-season tests as ever, but the series is sure to be a tightly fought affair, we will only know for sure where all the runners stand in the pecking order at the Avon Tyres British GT 2015 Championship in early April (4-6) at Oulton Park.