This year’s British GT Championship – the 25th in series history – will feature a 31-car GT3 and GT4 full-season entry. The news was announced during today’s annual Media Day at Snetterton where 27 cars gathered for the first official engagement of 2017.
At least 12 GT3s and 19 GT4s – a British GT record for the class – will take the start at Oulton Park’s season opener over Easter Bank Holiday Weekend (April 15 & 17), although the confirmation of further full-season entries remains a possibility between now and then.
Championship organisers are delighted with the 12-strong GT3 field, which features six different manufacturers and the same unchanged crews that filled last season’s top-four places in the Drivers’ championship. The senior class Teams’ title should also be hotly contested now that four squads are running two cars each.
New-generation GT3s will also make their full-season debuts with two Mercedes-AMG GT3s and a single Ferrari 488 GT3 racing against Aston Martin V12 Vantages, Lamborghini Huracans, Bentley Continentals and Ginetta G55s.
Meanwhile, GT4 continues to grow in stature, as evidenced by the strongest entry in its decade-long British GT existence. Ginetta has retained its numerical advantage with seven G55s, but McLaren’s new 570S – available to customers for the first time after a successful development season domestically throughout 2016 – is now just one short of that number.
As in GT3 a total of six different marques will be represented in the class this season, with Aston Martin, Nissan, Porsche and Toyota joining the aforementioned Ginetta and McLaren. Pro/Am pairs constitute the majority of the grid, with 10 crews – including PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s reigning champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson – confirmed.
But they’ll have their work cut out to retain the crown given the strength of this year’s grid. Four former GT3 drivers and one overall British GT champion are stepping down from the top class to race in GT4, while the reigning Lotus Cup Supersport and Ginetta Junior champion have also signed up.
The entry list contained few surprises given the number of announcements since the end of last season, with only GPRM’s Toyota GT86 GT4 and Marcus Hoggarth’s confirmation aboard In2Racing’s second McLaren 570S GT4 remaining under wraps before today.
Ebor GT’s Maserati MC GT4 isn’t currently included in the full-season entry, but the car was present at today’s Media Day with Matthew Graham behind the wheel.
As in previous years, additional cars are expected to race at British GT’s blue riband Silverstone 500 and Spa-Francorchamps rounds.
Championship Manager Benjamin Franassovici: “I’m delighted to announce another fantastic British GT Championship entry for the forthcoming campaign, and especially so given that this will be our 25th anniversary season. GT4’s upward trend continues, and clearly the McLaren has proven a very popular addition to the class. But it’s also obvious that the influx of aspiring professionals hasn’t deterred gentleman drivers. In fact, the number of Pro/Am crews still outnumber the Silvers despite more and more youngsters seeing GT racing as a viable career path.
“But GT3 deserves a special mention. New drivers, teams and cars prove that the class remains very much a part of British GT. We worked very hard over the winter to secure its place and have been repaid with a fantastic grid. I certainly can’t recall a tougher entry in terms of genuine potential race winners than 2017’s.”