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The legacy of an economical launchpad for future racing stars

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The Manufacturers Hatch British Touring Automobile finals assembly is usually a time for reflection. Among the many pleasure and rigidity of the title deciders, many are additionally wanting again over the season and loads of drivers will probably be getting ready to bid farewell to groups or collection.

However this 12 months’s curtain-closer really was the tip of an period because it marked Ginetta’s closing look on the BTCC invoice. Whereas Ginetta Junior will proceed in its new residence alongside British GT subsequent 12 months, it signalled the tip of the highway for the GT4 Supercup because the collection is now being scrapped. It concluded with Aston Millar blasting his V8-powered G56 to the ultimate victory, turning into the 58th totally different winner from 365 races over a 14-year interval that featured three fashions of Yorkshire sportscar.

The collection was initially referred to as the Ginetta G50 Cup when it began in 2008 and featured at British GT conferences, earlier than teaming up with the BTCC the next 12 months. The G55 was launched for 2011 – additionally when the Supercup moniker was adopted – after which the G56 made an look for this season’s closing marketing campaign.

Out of these 58 winners, scores have gone on to get pleasure from success within the BTCC or GT contests and it was maybe becoming that on the GT4 Supercup’s closing weekend, one in all its most notable alumni, Tom Ingram, claimed the BTCC crown. Ingram’s fellow BTCC frontrunners Jake Hill and Adam Morgan – who gained the 2011 title and acquired a funded season within the BTCC the next 12 months – had been amongst these to study their commerce within the collection, whereas 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup GB dominator Harry King and 2021 British GT4 title winner Will Burns are different notable graduates.

However one one that maybe has a higher connection to the GT4 Supercup than another is Nathan Freke. The Century Motorsport boss started competing within the G50 Cup in 2009, claiming that 12 months’s title, and has remained concerned ever since, his squad being a relentless presence. Nonetheless, it’s a very totally different staff now to the one Freke drove for in 2009, when he admits to having a tough introduction to the championship.

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“I gained Components Ford in 2006 and had a 12 months out in 2007 and had a buyer in karts who mentioned for 2008 they’d purchase a Porsche Carrera Cup automobile for me to race in,” recollects Freke. “At the moment, I used to be nonetheless fairly dialled into single-seaters and had my eye on attempting to go to Indy Professional.

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“I went to America and it was a catastrophe. So I got here again cap in hand and requested if that provide was nonetheless out there and he mentioned no. Nonetheless, he mentioned he would put £50,000 in direction of a automobile if we wished to seek out one thing. We appeared round and Ginetta was going to get on the touring automobile package deal and the automobile was £47k and determined that was the best strategy to go. We hadn’t even run a GT automobile earlier than, up till 2008 we had been nonetheless operating karts.

Freke made an excellent return to racing within the UK and dominated the 2009 G50 season

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

“We turned up on the first spherical fully untested – we picked the automobile up, and had completed the media day, and that was it. I used to be driver and engineer and a few my pals had been mechanics.”

But Freke was in a position to clinch a hat-trick of podiums on the Manufacturers Hatch opener, regardless of his restricted preparation. He struggled at Thruxton having not examined beforehand, however from there on he gained 15 of the remaining 22 races to safe a dominant title win.

“My season in 2009 was only a fairytale,” says Freke. “If somebody had mentioned to me at first of the 12 months you may be champion and dominate the sector, I’d’ve simply laughed at them.”

“It was having a collection that’s organised properly and run properly and the principles and rules are abided by and enforced. The hospitality acquired higher yearly they usually all the time appeared to have some quick drivers in every of their courses” Colin White

The success additionally catapulted the fledging Century operation into the limelight.

“After we gained the title, folks had been queueing on the door for us to run them in Ginettas,” he says. “I purchased a truck and all of the tools and we ran 4 automobiles in 2010 – it simply snowballed.”

That preliminary Ginetta foray marked the beginning of a long-standing and profitable relationship between Century and the GT4 Supercup, with Tom Oliphant (2015) and James Kellett (2022) additionally claiming general titles with the staff. Unsurprisingly, it secured probably the most victories of any outfit to compete within the collection, even with some fallow durations alongside the way in which.

However Freke was not the one notable Ginetta driver to start their lengthy affiliation with the collection again in 2009. Nationwide racing stalwart Colin White additionally joined the grid for the primary time that 12 months and went on to make a complete of 297 appearances throughout the G50, G55 and G56 eras.

“I used to be searching for one thing in England that was a wise automobile to purchase and race,” recollects White of coming into Ginetta competitors. “I went to Thruxton and that was when the SEATs had been simply ending [the Cupra championship was axed in 2008] they usually mentioned there’s a brand new automobile coming with the Ginetta and it’s a spaceframe – the identical because the ASCAR and scorching rods I’d been racing all my life.”

Category veteran White made his series debut in 2009

Class veteran White made his collection debut in 2009

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

This instantly grabbed White’s consideration and retained his curiosity throughout the following 13 years, throughout which he claimed 4 class crowns. There have been loads of causes White saved coming again for extra, not least the TV protection racing on the BTCC package deal introduced for his CWS enterprise and the satisfaction he acquired from his small, unbiased staff taking up bigger operations.

“It was having a collection that’s organised properly and run properly and the principles and rules are abided by and enforced,” he provides. “The hospitality acquired higher yearly they usually all the time appeared to have some quick drivers in every of their courses.”

Whereas White was typically discovered within the Professional-Am/Am divisions, he might nonetheless combine it with the frontrunners and achieved 5 general podiums, which he describes as his most memorable moments – the latest coming at Knockhill this 12 months.

Clearly, becoming a member of the TOCA invoice for 2009 was a key second within the class’s historical past as a 3rd long-standing determine additionally competed for the primary time that 12 months. Carl Breeze had already competed within the BTCC and the SEAT Cupra championship earlier than and, searching for to stay on the TOCA package deal, he opted to race a G50. He was third within the standings that 12 months, and by no means completed outdoors the highest three within the factors over the following six seasons, together with profitable the title in 2012 and securing probably the most wins of any driver within the collection with 45.

“That was an amazing championship – there was all the time degree of competitors,” Breeze displays. “Yearly there was some younger up and coming champion stepping up from Ginetta Junior.”

Unsurprisingly, he picks out his title-winning 12 months as his spotlight – not least as a result of he had a tough begin to the season struggling for funds with the Tollbar Racing squad in an older, loaned automobile, whereas Tom Sharp was profitable the primary 5 contests.

“After two rounds, I modified groups and went to Complete Management Racing and adjusted automobile,” remembers Breeze. “After three rounds, we had been about 100 factors off Tom Sharp and it appeared prefer it was going to be a tall order to win the championship.”

However, from the remaining 18 races, Breeze solely as soon as completed off the rostrum.

Breeze has the record for the most wins in the category, with 45, including five in his 2012 title-winning season

Breeze has the document for probably the most wins within the class, with 45, together with 5 in his 2012 title-winning season

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

“We acquired to Manufacturers Hatch and, on the Saturday, Tom had a driveshaft failure and didn’t end and he began in the back of the grid for race two – I bear in mind him coming by way of like a practice!” Breeze continues. “Trying again, I drove the race of my life. I simply defended the within and he was pushing me down the straights. I don’t know the way I held him off! Within the final race, I wanted to complete within the high six to win and I used to be third.

“It felt like payback for the opposite seasons the place we had been so shut – I didn’t need to go down within the document books because the bridesmaid with probably the most wins and by no means profitable the championship!”

One of many drivers who managed to get the higher of Breeze was Ingram, throughout a profitable 2013 season that adopted him profitable the Junior and second-tier G50 Cup titles in earlier years.

“It was an amazing collection to be part of as a result of it allowed me to do what I wished to do,” he says. “I wished to remain on the TOCA package deal and I wished to go off and race in touring automobiles and it enabled me to do this. By way of that probability to remain on the TOCA package deal, I had the chance with Jason Plato and the KX Akademy.”

“It teaches you a large number in a single-make collection – that doesn’t matter should you’re coming from Clios or Minis – single-make championships are actually what forces you to seek out the final bit and I feel that’s an essential issue” Tom Ingram

Ingram highlights how Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson was “massively useful” in serving to him safe a last-minute deal to affix the grid in 2011.

“With out Lawrence’s assist, I wouldn’t have been in a position to take that step in direction of profitable the BTCC championship this 12 months,” he provides.

Regardless that the G55 bears little resemblance to the Hyundai i30 N he drives now, Ingram nonetheless says his time within the collection was very helpful.

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“It teaches you a large number in a single-make collection – that doesn’t matter should you’re coming from Clios or Minis – single-make championships are actually what forces you to seek out the final bit and I feel that’s an essential issue,” he explains. “It was a bloody robust championship – there have been some quick guys in it.”

Ingram used his 2013 title as a springboard to racing in the BTCC

Ingram used his 2013 title as a springboard to racing within the BTCC

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Regardless of the usual of the competitors, Ingram was nonetheless in a position to obtain 11 wins in that title-winning season. However Kellett went two higher this 12 months as he produced a dominant show having achieved his long-held dream to race within the collection.

“It’s an amazing championship and it’s unhappy to see it go,” he says. “It’s been my dream to race in it since I used to be 14 years {old} once I first did Ginetta Junior – the GT4 Supercup drivers had been the drivers I appeared as much as. It means loads to me simply to race within the championship.”

The following era of Junior graduates is not going to have such a possibility following September’s announcement that the GT4 Supercup can be discontinued. It was becoming that White ought to wave the chequered flag on the finish of the second race on the ultimate Manufacturers Hatch weekend, whereas nonetheless recovering from accidents sustained in a crash at Thruxton in August, and describes feeling “privileged to do such a factor”.

However Freke maybe sums up the sensation over the collection’ demise greatest, saying “let’s smile that it occurred fairly than be unhappy it’s stopping”. It might not have had probably the most aggressive of grids in current occasions, however there isn’t a disputing the influence the Ginetta GT4 Supercup had on nationwide motorsport for over a decade. The continuing success of Ingram and co is testomony to that.

Kellett dominated the final GT4 Supercup in 2022, breaking Ingram's record for wins in a season

Kellett dominated the ultimate GT4 Supercup in 2022, breaking Ingram’s document for wins in a season

Photograph by: Motorsport Images



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