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Saturday, May 25, 2024

How British GT is holding drivers to account for misdemeanours

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No doubt one of many largest appeals of endurance racing is the multi-class format that it supplies, permitting automobiles and drivers of various efficiency and talents to take to the observe on the identical time. It implies that merely being the quickest shouldn’t be sufficient to ensure a crew victory, as site visitors administration and technique all change into extra important components in reaching the highest step of the rostrum than in different racing disciplines. British GT is not any totally different, and the dynamic of the quicker GT3 automobiles looking for a well past the comparatively slower GT4s has supplied plenty of motion this yr.

Most just lately at Snetterton, John Ferguson’s audacious transfer on Ian Loggie into Murrays as they approached GT4 site visitors was the epitome of endurance racing, and in the end set the RAM Racing driver on the right track for victory. However, whereas the multi-class racing has supplied loads of spectacle, it’s additionally produced a number of incidents this season and it was no totally different final weekend.

Championship chief James Cottingham was discovered at fault for a collision between his 2 Seas Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Freddie Tomlinson’s Raceway Ginetta G56 GT4 within the second apply session on the Agostini hairpin. After unsuccessfully interesting the choice, Cottingham was handed a 3rd behavioural warning level which, mixed with the 2 he’d collected within the Silverstone race, meant that he acquired a five-place grid penalty for the opening Snetterton contest.

Cottingham misplaced his well-earned pole place, and it led him to query the respect between drivers within the two lessons. “I believe it’s a deep-rooted set of circumstances this season,” says Cottingham, who nonetheless leads the GT3 standings alongside co-driver Jonny Adam after Snetterton. “The GT4 drivers really feel just like the GT3 drivers aren’t respecting them, and the GT3 drivers really feel just like the GT4 drivers aren’t respecting them. Everybody simply must take a step again. It’s a two-way road and I believe everybody must respect one another.”

Middleton competes in each GT3 and GT4 lessons and is aware of how troublesome coping with site visitors will be

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Photograph by: JEP/Motorsport Images

Cottingham wasn’t the one GT3 driver to be slapped with a penalty for a collision in apply, with Andrey Borodin handed two behavioural warning factors after amassing the DTO McLaren Artura GT4 of Aston Millar/Josh Rowledge in FP1 on the Wilson hairpin. Tomlinson’s team-mate Stuart Middleton has pushed in each the GT3 and GT4 classes and might perceive the frustration of the quicker drivers when developing behind slower site visitors.

“I’ve been on each side of the fence – I’m presently racing Italian GT3 and it’s precisely the identical story,” he says. “On the finish of the day, it’s as much as the quicker automobile to make the cross safely and cleanly. If there’s not a niche, you’ve got to play it secure. I completely get the frustrations of the GT3s but it surely’s simply the way in which the racing is and has been. It’s about putting the automobile in an excellent place. You’ve got to actually play with the site visitors much more while you’re in a battle.”

“I believe individuals are testing the waters and making an attempt to see who’s going to provide manner” Stuart Middleton

The 2017 British GT4 champion provides that “I believe individuals are testing the waters and making an attempt to see who’s going to provide manner”, and it was noticeable that at Snetterton the extra critical clashes between GT3 and GT4 automobiles occurred in apply. Drivers within the race are conscious that it falls to the quicker GT3 machines to make a transfer safely and, whereas the identical precept applies in apply, drivers popping out of the pits or slowing right down to discover a hole on observe solely serve to create extra probabilities of an incident.

Whereas collisions between GT3 and GT4 automobiles are maybe extra seemingly as a result of pace variations, it’s actually to not say that the driving requirements inside every class haven’t come below scrutiny this time period.

West was another driver to pick up a penalty for colliding with a GT4 and his Garage 59 team opted to withdraw

West was one other driver to select up a penalty for colliding with a GT4 and his Storage 59 staff opted to withdraw

Photograph by: JEP/Motorsport Images

Alex West was handed two extra behavioural warning factors – a separate penalty system to licence factors operated in British GT and one which showcases how organisers take such issues severely – for a collision with Fortunate Khera within the opening race on the Wilson hairpin. It took his season whole to eight and meant the Storage 59 McLaren was handed a 10-place grid penalty, which might have denied team-mate Marvin Kirchhoefer – like Cottingham – pole place. In the long run, the staff determined to withdraw from the occasion.

There’s no denying that it’s noticeable how extra stringent the officers have been with driving requirements this yr and, whereas it could possibly be debated simply how strict these penalties needs to be – given not one of the incidents have been deliberate – one factor that can’t be tolerated is abuse of any variety, even among the many drivers themselves. The officers subsequently took the choice to disqualify Michael Crees and Erik Evans from the assembly after each have been present in breach of Motorsport UK’s Race with Respect code of conduct after “verbally abusive outbursts” following the second race – which means in Crees’s case he was stripped of a second British GT podium from the opener.

The British GT Championship has simply three rounds remaining – at Algarve, Manufacturers Hatch and Donington Park – and, rightly or wrongly, there’s each probability the championships could possibly be settled by selections within the officers’ workplace slightly than on the observe.

Crees and Evans (in Mustang) were excluded for an altogether different offence

Crees and Evans (in Mustang) have been excluded for an altogether totally different offence

Photograph by: JEP/Motorsport Images



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