Simonsen aiming for Best Driver accolade for fifth consecutive year in British GT

28 03 2011

Simonsen celebrates first place in the 2010 British GT finale at Donington

Simonsen celebrates first place in the 2010 British GT finale at Donington

DANISH GT star Allan Simonsen is hoping for a five star performance in the British GT this year as he aims to be voted Best Driver in the Championship for a fifth year in a row.

Simonsen will once again team up with Hector Lester in a Ferrari 430, with plans to move to the new 458 when it becomes available.

He revealed that the waiting list for the new Ferrari is so long that they will be forced to stay with the older incarnation despite some performance drawbacks which he hopes SRO will rectify.

He told BritishGT: “We will stay with the 430 this year as the waiting list for the 458 is very long although the 430 Scuderia will still run with extra ballast and a smaller restrictor.

“I do hope the SRO will free up some of those restrictions for 2011 allowing the 430 to still be competitive.

“I have raced a Ferrari every year since 2002 and all I can say is I’m blessed to be driving what is most people’s dream and that’s how the cars drive too.”

Simonsen loves a chance to kick back and relax in his home in Monaco but faces a hectic race schedule this year competing all over the world and especially looks forward to the British GT.

He said: “First of all I love the British tracks, the fact that it’s a Pro-Am championship also really appeals to me as it creates great racing with lots of overtaking.

It’s great to see so many new cars in the championship – Benjamin and Stefan are always working very hard for the championship and so a big thank you must go to them that we see so many new fantastic cars.”

Simonsen will continue in the Ferrari F430 with teammate Hector Lester

Simonsen will continue in the Ferrari F430 with teammate Hector Lester

And Simonsen agrees with the rest of the drivers that the replacement of success ballast with time penalties will make the competition a much better spectacle.

He added: “I like the new idea of not running success ballast but success will cost in form of longer pit stops. That alone will create more overtaking and more exciting races.”

British GT makes a move to longer races this year and Simonsen feels at home in the endurance style events and can’t wait to win again.

He concluded: “I do endurance races all the time and I am a massive fan of the SRO’s new Blancpain Championship.

“I’m currently looking for a drive in that championship, but for the British GT championship I hope they stay with one and two hour races.

“It’s pretty easy when you do it for a living. If I do get tired I find the adrenalin kicks in and it gets me through!

“My aim is to be voted the Best Driver in the Championship for a 5th year in a row, have lots of podiums and for my teammate Hector Lester to enjoy himself.”





Mallock close to signing a contract to return to British GT for 2011 season

25 03 2011

Mallock drove the KTM at Rockingham in the British GT last year

Mallock drove the KTM at Rockingham in the British GT last year © Jakob Ebrey

MICHAEL Mallock is close to agreeing a deal to return to British GT racing after an eight year absence from the series.

Mallock, 28, who had a contract to drive in Europe for 2011 before it collapsed leaving him in the lurch, is now at the final stages of agreeing terms for a drive in British GT Championship.

He revealed to BritishGT: “We’re working with certain teams who need a pro driver and are sorting out the finer details as to who can get the sponsorship in place to put me in the car.

“It’s all getting quite late but as always these things are down to finance, everyone is looking to secure the money that is required to get me in.

“We’re working very hard and I’m certain I’ll be doing something in British GT and will be on the grid at Oulton, I just don’t know in what and who with.”

The Northampton racer had one taste of the series at Rockingham in the KTM X-Bow last year but apart from that has been out of British GT for eight years and is keen to get back racing on home soil.

He said: “It’s a great series and seems to be really thriving at the moment with some fantastic entries and I think it will be a very close competition all the way through the field and it’s something I’m very keen to return to, especially doing more racing back on home soil.

“Silverstone GP is always a favourite of mine. I’ve always enjoyed racing there and gone pretty well but I really enjoy the majority of the UK circuits.

“The last few years I’ve predominantly been racing in Europe so I haven’t actually had much opportunity on the UK tracks but I’m looking forward to the prospect of going back to places like Donington and Oulton.

“The UK circuits are very different to the ones on the European continent, they’re a lot narrower, bumpier and undulating and generally have a lot more character.

And Mallock is relishing the new longer races introduced for the 2011 season as endurance racing has been in his family for years.

He added: “I’ve always been a fan of endurance racing, my family is involved in motorsport and my earliest memories are of watching my dad in sports cars races at Le Mans and that sort of thing.

“Endurance racing is kind of in my blood and it’s something that I’ve always been a lot more interested in than sprint races.

“Certainly Le Mans is the goal and I enjoy the mid-distance endurance events a lot more than the half hour races.”

Mallock is also in favour of the new time penalty that has replaced the weight ballast as he feels it will make the competition fairer and more exciting viewing.

He explained: “Obviously if you are a driver in a competitive team and you’re winning races having any sort of penalty isn’t ideal but I think from an entertainment and spectators point of view it makes things a lot better.

“Instead of having cars disappearing into the distance, the time penalties will bring other cars back into play and you’ll see people having to fight their way back through to the front.

“The problem with weight is that the amount the weight affects cars is different. So a 40kg penalty in a KTM which is only 800 kgs hurts a lot more than it does in say an Aston Martin which is 1400 kgs.

“That has always been my issue with having weight penalties so I think time penalties will work well for all sides and should definitely spice up the racing.”





Century Motorsport confirms Ginetta G55 pairing for British GT 2011 GT3 category

23 03 2011

Ginetta G55 in action

Ginetta ran the new G55 at the Media Test Day at Silverstone (racecarbuzz.com)

CENTURY Motorsport have confirmed they will run a pair of new Ginetta G55s in the top GT3 class for 2011 British GT season.

The new version of the popular G50 will be driven by Freddie Hetherington and Formula Renault BARC speedster Jake Rattenbury, who is close to signing the deal a month ahead of the season opener at Oulton Park.

Team boss Nathan Freke, an ex-Formula Ford and Ginetta G50 Cup champion, told Motorsport News: “We’ve wanted to step up from GT4 for a while and the introduction of the new car gives us a perfect chance to do that.”

“This would be a learning year because the car is still going through the homologation process and would be up against some serious machinery.

“But Ginetta has some upgrades planned for the middle of the year that would bring the car up to the pace.”

Hetherington is no stranger to success in the British GT with three victories in the GT4 last year as well as competing in the Ginetta G50 Cup and can’t wait to make the step up to GT3.

He said: “The G55 is everything the G50 was and more. It would be a big step up for me to go up against some of the best drivers in the UK in my second year of racing, but I’d love the challenge.”

The second pairing is unconfirmed but it is believed GT4 regular Ian Stinton is being lined up alongside karting graduate Mike Simpson.





Snetterton reveal new corner names based on Norfolk motorsport legends

16 03 2011

Snetterton 300 Corner Names

Snetterton 300 with corner names and corresponding numbers (click to enlarge)


The new Snetterton 300 revealed the names of the new corners ahead of its debut on the British GT calendar.

The names suggested by fans of the circuit are steeped in motorsport, and more specifically Norfolk history. Among those honoured are Lewis Hamilton, Martin Brundle, Murray Walker and Jonathan Palmer.

The new circuit which has excited the British GT drivers ahead of the season, has added a more complex infield that organisers hope will spice up the racing on show for the viewers.

Below is a concise list of the new corners around the track and their significance to Snetterton and motorsport.

3. Palmer – named after MotorSportVision Chief Executive, Jonathan Palmer, who also achieved a number of podiums at the Norfolk track in British F3.

4. Agostini – arguably the greatest motorcycle racer of all time, Giacomo Agostini, has the most Grand Prix wins and multiple world championships to his name. He won at Snetterton in the 1970s on both two wheels and four on his Formula One debut.

5. Hamilton – named after Britain’s star racing driver of the current era, Lewis Hamilton. Hamilton won many podiums in Formula Renault at Snetterton.

6. Oggies – Turn Six pays homage to international businessman and co-founder of MotorSportVision, Sir Peter Ogden.

7. Williams – Sir Frank Williams designed the Williams JPH1 Formula Two car for Palmer’s series and it was developed mainly at the Norfolk base. The JPH1B, the successor of the Formula Two car, was the first to lap the new Snetterton.

Bentley Straight – Snetterton is a track synonymous with GT racing and Bentley’s Le Mans conquering Speed 8 prototype was developed heavily on the track. The 800 metre straight between Turns Seven and Eight is dedicated to the British car manufacturer.

8. Brundle – Hailing from nearby King’s Lynn, Martin Brundle and current BBC Formula One commentator was a hero in Norfolk as he made his way to the very top of motor racing. Brundle won the most votes from the public for a corner to be named after him.

9. Nelson – Away from motorsport, Turn Nine is named after a national hero. Admiral Nelson, who led Britain to her greatest ever naval victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, is honoured in his home county of Norfolk.

12. Murrays – A name that every motorsport fan thinks over when commentating is mentioned, Murray Walker, has been given the final turn of the new layout. He oversaw many of the great British Touring Car races at Snetterton in the 1980s and 1990s.

What do you think of the new corner names? What would you had called them? Have your say below…





Fisken hopes for performance parity for Trackspeed Porsche ahead of Oulton Park

15 03 2011

Martin Short/Gregor Fisken - Rollcentre Racing Mosler MT900 GT3

Fisken (right) tasted success in the Mosler last season © http://www.fisken.com

Gregor Fisken is hoping that his Trackspeed Porsche will get a performance break before the British GT season opener at Oulton Park.

Fisken, 46, believes that for the Porsche to challenge fairly with the new cars in the shorter sprint races, a re-equalisation by SRO and the FIA needs to be made.

He told BritishGT: “With the new cars, like the SLS Mercedes, Corvette, Audi R8s and of course the 458s, the Porsche could do with a little bit of a performance break which I suspect it might get before the season starts.

“The Porsche was not the quickest car last year and struggled in a straight line compared to the Ferrari. The new 458 will be even better so I think the Porsche needs a performance boost to bring it up to parity with the other cars.

“Taking a bit of the ballast out the car or a different engine restrictor would help. The Porsche has around 460 bhp which is at least 30 or 40 down on the Ferraris.

“It’s not for me to say how the SRO should balance it up but the Porsche did very well to win it last year when it wasn’t expected to but won it more on reliability than outright pace.”

Fisken who has competed on and off in a Mosler between a busy classic car schedule is making the British GT his priority for 2011.

And to have any chance of success this season, Fisken believes that the reliability of the Porsche is vital, especially with the introduction of longer endurance races.

Trackspeed Porsche in 2010

Trackspeed won the 2010 with a very reliable Porsche 911

He explained: “I watched carefully the British GT last season and what was going on and saw that the Porsche was super solid, super reliable and clearly Trackspeed were a very good team.

“Looking into 2011, there are some longer races and the Porsche looks like a car that is relatively kind on its tyres and relatively fuel efficient, solid, reliable and very driveable.”

Fisken, one of a handful of drivers to compete in every class at the Le-Mans 24 hour race, is in favour of the new pit stop time penalty that has replaced the ballast.

He added: “I think giving the cars a longer pit-stop as a success time penalty is a much better idea than throwing more ride height and ballast at the cars.

“A lot of the teams last year were making set up changes race by race because of the weight and ride height and all the rest of it. I think the time pit-stop is a great idea and I hope it works.”

Trackspeed is yet to confirm Fisken’s co-driver for the new season but tested a number of drivers last week with an announcement hopeful in the next ten days.

Fisken revealed: “We tested three superb drivers last Wednesday and we’re still going through data and having a head scratch as to who it will be.

“From my point of view it’s a decision by Trackspeed, anyone of the three I drove with last week would be fine by me but we see it as a very important year and its vital to have a good co-driver.

“We’re going to test again before Oulton Park and I think it’s very important we get some good reliable performances early in the season because the season starts from race one.”





Johnson believes British GT will benefit from endurance races for 2011 season

10 03 2011

Piers Johnson

Johnson believes GT racing is all about endurance events

EXPERIENCED racer Piers Johnson is delighted the British GT Championship has moved towards an endurance-based series for the 2011 season.

Johnson, 41, has competed in British GT since 2001, and believes that the new longer race distances for this year is what makes GT racing.

He told BritishGT: “I definitely prefer the longer races. I’d prefer them to be a minimum of two hours, I think one hour is a bit too short.

“At the end of the day, GT racing is about endurance. We all aspire to go to Le Mans and all the European events are four or six hours and longer and that’s what I prefer.

“In a one hour race, you’re pretty much stuck in your place, there’s no strategy involved, no team involvement, it’s just two half an hour sprints for both drivers.

“It means with the longer races you can play a more tactical game and it also prepares you if you want to move onto greater things in Europe.”

And Johnson has nothing but praise for the organisers who decided on the new format after discussions with the drivers.

He revealed: “We did the last race last year and Benjamin [Franassovici] and SRO are very good at communicating with the competitors and we all voted for the longer races.

“It’s all worked out and looks like it will be a good championship this year.”

The new pit stop ruling that replaces weight penalties are an unknown quantity but Johnson believes they will make the competition fairer.

He said: “The pit stop should make it more equal and work better than having weight on the car.

“It’ll make the car a lot nicer to drive because you’re not hampered for the whole race and it should give you a chance to get back up if you’ve got a penalty from doing well in the race before.”

Johnson will be racing a Corvette Z06 this year and is unsure of what they can achieve as they have yet to test but is optimistic given the car’s previous performances in Europe.

He explained: “You don’t know how everyone is going to compare. Last year’s cars you knew where you were whereas there are a lot of new cars out there this year.

“With the Mercedes, the 458s, the Audis and obviously our car, all new to the championship, it is difficult to predict really.

“From the form of the Corvette in Europe hopefully that should put us in good stead whereas the 458 and Mercedes are new to competition.

“I’m sure they’re going to be competitive if not quicker than we are but it’s difficult to say at the moment.”





New Snetterton track layout excites drivers for British GT 2011 Championship

8 03 2011

Snetterton 300

Designers hope new lay-out will mean more exciting racing (Click to enlarge)

THE new Snetterton circuit had its first track day at the end of last month and the British GT drivers just can’t wait to give it a go.

Having undergone a £3.5 million re-development to make the track more exciting and increase overtaking opportunities, Snetterton hosted a media day and it received rave reviews with the new infield loop increasing the Snetterton 300 lay-out to 2.99 miles long.

The current crop of British GT racers are eager to give it a go and hope that with the addition of new viewing platforms and paddocks it will be a great racing spectacle.

Rookie driver Dan Denis told BritishGT: “I’ve seen pictures of the new layout it looks interesting. It should make it better than it was before. It was quite hard to overtake and now there is a lot more opportunity.”

Experienced British GT racer, Aaron Scott also told BritishGT: “I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve seen some on board footage on You Tube and it looks good.

“I’ll be there in a couple of weeks and I’m looking forward to it. It’s what the track needed and should make the races more exciting this season for teams and drivers.”

Piers Johnson, added to BritishGT: “We’ve got a test booked there in April to learn all about it for the second race and I’m looking forward to it.

“I always liked Snetterton anyway and hopefully now it’ll be a little bit more technical.”

Ex-Le Mans driver, Gregor Fisken, told BritishGT: “It’s obviously a big revision and we’re very excited.

“It’s brilliant to see what’s happening and I can’t wait to drive on the new track.

“It might just be one of those things that adds a bit of mileage onto an already a great circuit. Snetterton is favourite of mine so I’m hoping the good just got better.”

MotorsportVision, who are behind the revamp, released a simulation of what they wanted the track to look like before the work started.

Alongside the on-board camera from the last month’s track day you can see how accurate the redevelopment has been.

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