New raceday format for the first of British GT’s two Donington rounds

Wednesday 12 August 2020

The 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship continues this weekend (August 15/16) when Donington Park hosts a combination of sprint and endurance races.

Not since 2007 has the Leicestershire venue staged two British GT races during the same meeting, while a break from series tradition – brought about by the revised calendar – sees one and two-hour contests take place on Sunday. The first – featuring a mandatory refuelling pitstop – awards the maximum 1.5x points, while the second reverts to the same 60-minute sprint rules used at Oulton Park at the start of August.

The unique format also calls for a slightly different qualifying method. Race 1’s grid is decided by the usual endurance regulations where the best time of each crew member is combined to determine a starting order. Fastest Q2 laps then set the grid for race two.

Few would have picked an esports champion and GT4 graduate to be leading the championship after round one. But that’s exactly the situation atop the early GT3 standings thanks to James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien who belied their inexperience to win Race 1 and score useful points in the second. What’s more, Jenson Team Rocket RJN also enter Sunday’s first race without a Pitstop Success Penalty, which rise to 20, 15 and 10 seconds for British GT’s endurance format.

The same can’t be said for either of Barwell Motorsport’s Lamborghinis, which lie second and third after scoring a one-two in Oulton’s second race. Adam Balon and Phil Keen – also the leading Pro/Am contenders – and their team-mates Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell must therefore remain stationary for an additional 20 and 15 seconds at half distance. There’s also the small matter of Barwell’s supposed Donington curse, which has afflicted its championship challenges in the past. The team will be hoping a change of date and the addition of a sprint race – a format Barwell has traditionally excelled in – can break the spell this weekend.

Two more crews lie within eight points of the early championship leaders thanks to podium visits at Oulton. Lewis Proctor’s pole position helped the Optimum McLaren he shares with Ollie Wilkinson to finish second in Race 1, while RAM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG featuring Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala took third in the second. The latter must therefore serve a 10-second Success Penalty this Sunday morning.

Both British GT races will be shown live on the championship’s Facebook page and website, plus SRO’s Twitch and GT World Youtube channels, this Sunday. Coverage begins 15 minutes before each race. Sunday’s support races will also be shown live on throughout the day.