Scuderia Vittoria duo claim twilight win as championship goes down to the wire

26 09 2011

Michael Lyons suffered a string of misfortunes at Spa in his Ferrari 458 © Jakob Ebrey

Lyons and Bateman took their second season win in the three hour twilight enduro © Jakob Ebrey

SCUDERIA Vittoria pairing Charles Bateman and Michael Lyons secured their second victory of the season after a dramatic three-hour race into darkness at Donington Park.

The duo had qualified in eighth place in their Ferrari 458 Italia but played the strategy game well to move into the lead heading into the final hour of the race.

Despite a third Safety Car period late on, Lyons was able to bring the Ferrari home to the finish to give the team its first win since the opening rounds of the campaign at Oulton Park.

In GT4, the Lotus Sport UK team stormed to victory, with Phil Glew and James Nash leading from start to finish to win ahead of the Ginetta of Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury.

The race had started in the wet after earlier rain, which led to tricky conditions throughout the opening stint.

Early on, the Beechdean Motorsport Aston Martin proved the class of the field, with the team electing to put Jonathan Adam in for the first stint while most teams took the decision to start with their professional driver watching from the pit wall.

From sixth on the grid, Adam stormed through to lead by the end of the first lap and then pulled away at the margin of three seconds a lap before the gap between the Aston and the chasing pack eventually started to stabilise as conditions improved.

Behind Adam, Gregor Fisken had also got ahead of reigning champion David Ashburn and into second place, with the two Trackspeed Porsches running in tandem ahead of the MTECH Ferrari of Duncan Cameron, Bateman and Mike Guasch’s United Autosport Audi.

Bateman made a move on Cameron for fourth just before the 20-minute mark and that allowed Guasch also to close on the Ferrari, before contact between the two cars saw Cameron slip down to eighth and left the Audi to pit with bodywork damage which cost it two laps.

The Aston Martin led through to the opening round of stops – at which point the field switched to slick tyres on the drying track – but that would be as good as is got for the Beechdean crew as Andrew Howard then suffered a spin at Redgate on his out lap.

Dropping down to fourth, Howard then lost further places among the quicker ‘pro’ drivers before a spin at the Esses saw the Aston beached in the gravel and led to the Safety Car being deployed.  Although he managed to get the car back to the pits, the Aston Martin was soon retired.

It would prove to be the moment when the race swung towards Scuderia Vittoria, as the team called Michael Lyons – who had taken over from Bateman – in for a second stop.

Keeping the car towards the front, Bateman then pitted when the Safety Car came out for a second time to remove the CRS Ferrari of Andrew Tate from the gravel, and this handed control back to Lyons as the three cars ahead all pitted.

Despite his final stint running to just over an hour, and with fuel needing to be saved, Lyons maintained a lead of more than 20 seconds before the Safety Car was called out for the third time with 16 minutes remaining when the MTECH Ferrari of David Back went off.

With three lapped cars to act as a buffer against the chasing pack, Lyons was able to hold on to his lead and take victory as a heated battle developed behind for second place.

Those boys behind at the finish were the MTECH Ferrari of Matt Griffin and Tim Bridgman’s Trackspeed Porsche, which had moved to the front of the field by the half-way stage – the former despite the earlier delay in Cameron’s first stint.

Bridgman had been the race leader when the second Safety Car period was called, ahead of Griffin. Both cars dived for the pits to complete what would be their second of three mandatory stops – with Gregor Fisken and Duncan Cameron maintaining position when they rejoined the circuit.

However, while still behind the Safety Car, the pair found themselves stuck behind the GT4 Aston Martin of Sergio Lagana, which was suffering from a gearbox issue and which they were unable under the Safety Car rules to pass. Having already been delayed, there was further drama for Fisken as he exited Goddards to take the restart when Lagana suddenly dived for the pits, forcing the Porsche man to jump on the brakes and allowing Cameron through into the lead.

The Ferrari would then lead the Porsche through to the final stops, where both were jumped by Lyons, with Griffin and Bridgman setting about chasing down the leader over the final 40 minutes.

The final Safety Car looked like setting up a grandstand finish but Griffin found himself stuck behind the lapped cars of both Gordon Shedden and Adam Wilcox and was unable to challenge Lyons for the lead, although any challenge would ultimately have been immaterial when stewards handed Cameron and Griffin a time penalty for the earlier pass on Fisken at the end of the second caution period.

With that time penalty applied, the MTECH car dropped back behind the Porsche, into third place, with Fisken and Bridgman securing the runner-up slot.

Outside the top three positions, the second Trackspeed Porsche of Ashburn and Stephen Jelley took the chequered flag in fourth place with its challenge having been hampered by a number of minor off-track excursions by Ashburn.

The CRS Ferrari of championship leaders Jim and Glynn Geddie was the final car to finish on the lead lap, in fifth place having lost time – and position – during the opening stint when the car was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for a starting procedure violation.

The all-new Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 Italia rounded out the top six after an encouraging debut, with touring car star Gordon Shedden quickly up to speed and matching the pace of the front-runners as he looked to lift the car back up the order after team-mate Hector Lester lost time during the wet opening stint.

Guasch and Bell lifted the delayed Audi – the only one in the race after the sister car was ruled out by a qualifying accident – back up to seventh at the finish, although the two laps lost early on would prove to be too much to make up. They regained one of the laps lost but seventh was the best the pair could have hoped for.

The 360 Vision Ferrari of Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox, the Speedworks Corvette of Ron and Piers Johnson and the Rollcentre Ginetta of Tom Sharp, Martin Short and Matt Nicoll-Jones rounded out the top 10 – the latter having been one of the stars of the early stages as Sharp fought his way up into the top five with a series of daring moves in the tricky conditions. For his sterling efforts at the wheel, Burton was awarded the Sunoco Driver of the Weekend trophy.

The GT4 category was dominated by the Lotus Sport UK Evora of Phil Glew and James Nash, which led throughout the three hours and claimed victory despite a late stop/go penalty. A strong first stint from Glew in the wet conditions saw the Lotus challenge a number of the quicker GT3 cars and the pair took the chequered flag a lap clear of the Ginetta of Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury.

The Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta of Dan Denis and David McDonald had been well placed for third before a misfire in the final half hour saw the pair drop well off the pace. It allowed the KTM X-Bow of Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw to claim the final place on the podium, despite the car being forced to serve two stop/go penalties.

Elsewhere among the GT4 brigade, the second Lotus of Leyton Clarke and Freddy Nordstrom stopped on track, while the Barwell-run Secure Racing Aston Martin was hampered by its gearbox issues but did return to action late on, albeit 29 laps down.

Just 18.5 points separates the top nine drivers as the Avon Tyres British GT Championship heads for a grand finale at Silverstone on 8 October. The GT4 class is still open, too, with Belshaw and Clutton taking a 26.5-point lead into the last two-hour race of the season.

Round 9 Race Results

GT3

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari  Michael Lyons/Charles Bateman  3h 0m 43.609s / 86.70mph

2  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  +6.054s

3  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL)  +6.100s

4  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Stephen Jelley  +9.029s

5  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +33.549s

6  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Gordon Shedden  104 laps

7  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  104 laps

8  360 Vision Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  102 laps

9  Speedworks Motorsport Corvette  Ron Johnson/Piers Johnson  102 laps

10  Rollcentre Ginetta  Martin Short/Matt Nicoll-Jones/Tom Sharp  102 laps etc

GT4

1  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  James Nash/Phil Glew  100 laps

2  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  99 laps

3  ABG Motorsport KTM  Peter Belshaw/Marcus Clutton  98 laps etc

Fastest lap: Bridgman 1m 31.205s / 98.17mph (record)

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New sponsor for optimistic Wilcox after brake problems ruin Rockingham races

10 09 2011

Adam Wilcox

Wilcox has announced a new sponsor for 2011 and 2012 and remains positive

ADAM Wilcox put a tough Rockingham weekend in the British GT behind him by announcing a new sponsor for the remainder of 2011 and 2012.

Wilcox finished eighth in a rain-affected race one and was way down the field in the second race as he was dogged by a ABS problem all weekend which caused teammate Phil Burton to spin a number of times.

But Wilcox has announced a new deal with Lichfield based Crave It Marketing Ltd and will offer some good news going into the remaining two races of the season.

The Predator CCTV team decided to run on wets in race one but an early spin for Burton meant they could not capitalise as much as they would have liked.

But despite mechanical problems Wilcox remains upbeat and positive about racing and is always looking to get better and better.

He said: “I really thought the Scud would be fast at least over a single lap but was really struggling especially with our problems.

“Whether I’m racing for first or racing for last but one place I always give 100% and try and achieve the best results possible.”

And as a self-confessed fitness fanatic Wilcox is looking forward to the two and three hour endurances that will feature at Donington and Silverstone.

He added: “I also think the Scud will be more competitive at Doni and Silv as they are more flowing circuts. We seem to really struggle on slower hairpins with narrower tyres compared to most the other cars.





Fast starter Bridgman claims pole for race two at overcast Rockingham in British GT

3 09 2011

Trackspeed hope the Fiskens sponsored Porsche will be a 2011 challenger

Tim Bridgman took pole for race two with a blistering opening lap in the Trackspeed Porsche

TIM Bridgman stole pole position for race two with a stunning opening lap, a 1:18:494 on his first flier after overtaking a Ferrari on his outlap.

Matt Bell came closest to deposing the Porsche with a 1:18.831 in the #23 Audi, but a double-pole remained beyond the reach of United Autosports.

Several contenders for pole appeared to halt their chances by lapping in a group – Alex Mortimer (#10 CRS Ferrari 458), Phil Keen (#1 Trackspeed Porsche) and Charles Bateman (#5 Scuderia Vittoria 458) all getting in each others way when their tyres were at their best.

Mortimer would claim third, but Keen only managed fifth despite a last-gasp effort on a clear track.

Matt Griffin improved to fourth by the end, but it was clearly no easy matter in the #21 MTECH Ferrari. The Irish driver was labouring down in 21st after six minutes, before improving to sixth at the halfway point. His fourth-place time came on his next lap.

Allan Simonsen was the first to pit, from sixth place in the #3 Rosso Verde Ferrari Scuderia, and he was soon joined by several other cars. As the session neared its end, only the #24 Audi of John Bintcliffe was still circulating of the leading cars.

The clearer track enabled him to move from tenth to ninth to eighth by the end, just behind the #10 CRS Ferrari of Glynn Geddie. Keen rejoined the track with just under two minutes to go, but his single flying lap was probably one too few.

Aaron Scott managed to get the GT3B MTECH Ferrari 430 ahead of the two surviving Ginetta G55s (the Rollcentre car having sadly been withdrawn with engine problems) before parking up, while Adam Wilcox had the troubled #12 CCTV Predator Ferrari as high as sixth at one point, before slipping to 12th by the end.

GT4 saw a second pole for Scuderia Vittoria, as David McDonald beat a determined Phil Glew to the top spot. Marcus Clutton had led the class initially in the #44 X-Bow, but it wasn’t long before Glew had the #48 Evora on provisional pole. McDonald wasn’t having any of it though and hit back with a 1:24.288 to secure pole by 0.387s.

Race Two Qualifying

GT3

1  Trackspeed Porsche  Tim Bridgman  1m 18.494s

2  United Autosports Audi  Matt Bell  1m 18.831s

3  CRS Racing Ferrari  Alex Mortimer  1m 19.078s

4  MTECH Ferrari  Matt Griffin (IRL)  1m 19.383s

5  Trackspeed Porsche  Phil Keen  1m 19.430s

6  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Allan Simonsen (DEN)  1m 19.468s etc

GT3B

1  MTECH Ferrari  Aaron Scott  1m 21.602s

GT4

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta  David McDonald  1m 24.288s

2  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Phil Glew  1m 24.675s

3  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Leyton Clarke  1m 25.559s

4  ABG Motorsport KTM  Marcus Clutton  1m 25.636s

5  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield  1m 29.542s





Wilcox disappointed with old Ferrari 430 after unreliability costs team in Belgium

11 07 2011

The Ferrari 430 Scuderia had looked quick in testing but a broken rear damper scuppered a podium

The Ferrari 430 Scuderia has been unreliable in 2011 and clutch failure put paid to Wilcox's chances at Spa

A DISAPPOINTING season for Lichfield British GT star Adam Wilcox continued at Spa this weekend as mechanical problems once more plagued his Ferrari 430.

Wilcox and co-driver Phil Burton finished Race One at Spa on Saturday in eighth but managed only seven laps in Race Two before a gearbox failure forced them out.

A clutch fault in first practice on Friday morning set the tone for the race meeting as the Predator CCTV Racing pair had no car setup time with the team working to the wire to get them out for qualifying.

And Wilcox is disappointed with how the older Ferrari 430 has matched up against the newer machines such as the Ferrari 458s and Audi R8s.

He explained: “I think it’s clear the 430 is long in the tooth now as all the new cars such as the 458 and McLaren are faster over a single lap.

“Not only that but they are also able to maintain the pace due to the massive tyres sizes they have so the tyre drop is nowhere near how fast the 430 loses its grip.”

Wilcox and the team are happy to put Spa behind them and are working towards challenging in the remaining races but are also looking ahead to 2012 already.

The Lichfield ace added: “The car will be rebuilt and we plan to do some testing in the time off to maximize what we have with the 430 Scuderia because it’s still a fast car.

“I think we would need a bit of luck to challenge for wins but it’s possible. We are already looking ahead to 2012 and seeing which of the new cars available would give us the best chance to have a crack at the British GT title.”

The 2011 Avon Tyres British GT season has a mini-summer break before returning to action at Rockingham in early September.





Westbrook and Ashburn keep calm head under safety car to take Spa victory

9 07 2011

Westbrook produced a phenomenal lap to take pole position in Race Two at Spa (www.britishgt.com)

Westbrook's expert safety car management contributed to Race One victory (www.britishgt.com)

TRACKSPEED duo Richard Westbrook and defending champion David Ashburn took the honours in the first race at Spa in the British GT.

The Porsche drivers held off a late challenge from Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron to seal victory on European soil and take their second win of the season.

The hour long sprint was not without drama as a mid-race safety car caused by accidents in the other championships sharing the track allowed the frontrunners to pit and get their driver changes out of the way.

A swift stop from Trackspeed got them out first behind the safety car and an expert restart from Westbrook pulled out a five second gap over Griffin in the MTECH Racing Ferrari 458.

Griffin came back over the remaining laps and even briefly passed the Porsche but could not hold on as tyres degraded and he eventually finished behind Westbrook by 2.5 seconds.

Griffin said: “It was the safety car which killed us because Westie somehow managed to put a lapped car between him and me.

“We lost five seconds at the restart as a result and I pushed very hard to catch him, maybe hurting my tyres a little in the process.

“I made a good passing manoeuvre on him at Les Combes, but it was too slippery to hold it and he got me back.”

And Westbrook was aware that he had used tactics to gain the victory as he admitted his Porsche was not as quick as the Ferrari 458 in a straight shootout.

He added: “The Porsche isn’t really a match for a well-driven Ferrari 458, so you have to do as much as can; use your head, make a break with the traffic and that’s the only way we can compete.

“It was a good race, and in the end I just had enough. Matt was eating into my lead at the end so it was tough. It’s always nice to win, and all credit to David for bringing the car into the pits in the lead.”

CRS Racing’s Geddie father and son partnership completed the podium after starting way down in eighth and good teamwork and driving brought their Ferrari 458 home only five seconds behind the leaders.

Elsewhere the debuting McLaren MP4-12C held the lead from the start before contact pushed Chris Goodwin and Andrew Kirkaldy back down to 12th.

Andrew Tate and Alex Mortimer were another pairing to make good progress from a lowly grid slot, converting 12th on the grid to fourth at the line, ahead of the Andrew Howard/Jonathan Adam Beechdean Aston Martin, which picked off the faltering Trackspeed Porsche of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman on the penultimate lap.

Bridgman’s sixth became seventh on the final lap when he was passed by the United Autosports Audi of championship leaders Mike Guasch and Matt Bell.

Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox put clutch problems in practice behind them to claim another points finish in eighth in the Predator CCTV Ferrari

In ninth was the Ron and Piers Johnson Speedworks Corvette, which enjoyed a strong and reliable run for the team’s first points of the year.

Godfrey and David Jones, the only front-runners not to pit at the start of the safety car period, completed the top 10 in the Preci-Spark Mercedes.

For once everything went right for the Scuderia Vittoria GT4 pairing of Dan Denis and David McDonald.

Denis started from the pole in the Ginetta G50 and led comfortably all the way to the stops, and McDonald maintain the gap over the pursuing Ginetta of Josh Wakefield and Jake Rattenbury to score a handsome class victory, the duo’s first of the season.

Denis was delighted to finally get a win on the board in the British GT Championship.

He concluded: “My qualifying yesterday was fantastic. I got a good start and built a comfortable lead, and my pace was good.

“I was a bit worried when the safety car came out that I would lose my big lead but the team did a great job in the pits and David drove quickly and sensibly. It’s great finally to get a win.”

Race One Results

GT3 & overall

1  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Richard Westbrook  1h 0m 13.778s / 95.38mph

2  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL) +2.520s

3  CRS Racing Ferrari  Jim Geddie/Glynn Geddie  +5.189s

4  CRS Racing Ferrari  Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer  +17.102s

5  Beechdean Aston Martin  Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam  +17.876s

6  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  +19.687s

7  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  +22.913s

8  Predator CCTV Ferrari  Phil Burton/Adam Wilcox  +38.971s

9  Speedworks Motorsport Corvette  Ron Johnson/Piers Johnson  +39.553s

10  Preci-Spark Mercedes  David Jones/Godfrey Jones  +40.036s etc

Fastest lap: Griffin 2m 24.845s / 108.20mph (Record)

GT4

1  Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta  Dan Denis/David McDonald  +2m 14.732s

2  Century Motorsport Ginetta  Josh Wakefield/Jake Rattenbury  21 laps

3  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Leyton Clarke/Freddy Nordstrom  21 laps etc





Griffin tops First Practice session ahead of McLaren in British GT Championship at Spa

8 07 2011

Griffin believes the British GT Championship is one of the strongest national series in the world © Jakob Ebrey

Griffin hopes First Practice session pace can carry through to race victories © Jakob Ebrey

MATT Griffin and Duncan Cameron topped the timing sheets in the first free practice session at Spa-Francorchamps in the British GT Championship with an impressive lap sixth tenths faster than the nearest challenger.

The MTECH Racing Ferrari 458 has been quick all season but mechanical problems have cost the team race wins but a best time of 2.23.070, some 1.6 seconds quicker than pole position last year has given the team hopes for the two Belgian races this weekend.

The new McLaren MP4-12C making its international racing debut at the hands of Chris Goodwin and Andrew Kirkaldy was the closest to the Ferrari clocking a time of 2.23.637 around the famous Spa circuit.

Griffin was pleased with the session and hopes that the team can build on the performance and push for podiums and ultimately a race win.

He added: “We are quicker than the McLaren, which is pleasing. The car is going well; in fact, it feels as if it is on rails around here, so things are looking good. But we always seem to start the weekends well, and there is a long way to go yet.”

The ever consistent Trackspeed came next in third and fourth with David Ashburn and Richard Westbrook clocking 2.24.283 in their Porsche ahead of Gregor Fisken and Tim Bridgman on 2.24.752.

There were dramas for the Preci-Spark Mercedes of David and Godfrey Jones and the Predator CCTV Ferrari of Phil Burton and Adam Wilcox. The Jones car spun at the top of Eau Rouge and couldn’t be restarted, missing the second half of the session, while Burton and Wilcox failed to set a representative time due to suspected clutch problems.

In GT4, the Peter Erceg/Chris Holmes Secure Racing/Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin led the way by more than a second from the Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta of Dan Denis and David McDonald.

Free Practice 1 Results

GT3

1  MTECH Ferrari  Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin (IRL)  2m 23.070s

2  McLaren GT McLaren MP4-12C  Chris Goodwin/Andrew Kirkaldy  2m 23.637s

3  Trackspeed Porsche  David Ashburn/Stephen Jelley  2m 24.283s

4  Trackspeed Porsche  Gregor Fisken/Tim Bridgman  2m 24.752s

5  United Autosports Audi  Mike Guasch (USA)/Matt Bell  2m 26.025s

6  CRS Racing Ferrari  Andrew Tate/Alex Mortimer  2m 26.228s

7  Rosso Verde Ferrari  Hector Lester/Allan Simonsen (DEN)  2m 26.378s

8  United Autosports Audi  John Bintcliffe/Jay Palmer  2m 26.524s

9  Preci-Spark Mercedes  David Jones/Godfrey Jones  2m 27.094s

10  Chad Racing Ferrari  Iain Dockerill/Tom Ferrier  2m 27.464s etc

GT3B

1  MTECH Ferrari  John Dhillon/Aaaron Scott  2m 31.759s

GT4

1  Barwell Aston Martin  Peter Erceg/Chris Holmes  2m 35.747s

2  Scuderia Vittoria Ginetta  Dan Denis/David McDonald  2m 36.904s

3  Lotus Sport UK Lotus  Ollie Jackson/Phil Glew  2m 37.247s etc





Predator CCTV Racing fail endurance test as unreliability costs Wilcox podium shot

17 05 2011

The Ferrari 430 Scuderia had looked quick in testing but a broken rear damper scuppered a podium

Reliability issues earlier in the weekend for the Predator CCTV Ferrari 430 Scuderia cost Wilcox a podium

LICHFIELD racer Adam Wilcox left Snetterton with a feeling of what could have been after a gruelling two-hour endurance race in the British GT.

Wilcox and teammate Phil Burton finished ninth in the GT3 class at the Norfolk track but ran out of fuel with three minutes remaining after a fuel rig error in the pit stop.

The dramatic race was eventually won by the United Autosports Audi R8 although Wilcox clocked a faster lap in his Ferrari 430 Scuderia than the winner but reliability problems earlier in the weekend prevented a podium.

A sensor fault on Saturday left the Predator CCTV Racing team playing catch up from the first practice session and Wilcox did not have time to get the car set up.

He exclusively told BritishGT: “It was a difficult weekend, my fastest race lap was faster than the winners but with all the dramas we weren’t able to deliver the result we were capable.

“I didn’t complete any running whatsoever in practice so the first time I drove the car was in qualifying so I was working out what gear to be in and only did five fast laps to save race tyres.

“It was close at the front and I ended up eighth as I caught traffic on my best lap which would have put me third or fourth on the grid.

“In the race, when I got in the car I was in 21st position and managed to get up to eighth and unlap myself but the car wasn’t great as I didn’t do any setup work due to lack of practice time.

“It was good the car was quick but it could have been a little better, even so the new Ferrari 458 and the Audis are much quicker than we can go at the moment.”

Adam Wilcox on the pit wall at Oulton Park

Wilcox is hoping the team can improve the car to match the GT3 front runners

At Oulton Park three weeks ago, the car was misfiring on the final lap and the team feared it was running out of fuel but Wilcox believes the fuel problems this weekend were a mistake rather than a deeper car problem.

He added: “It was just a coincidence, I thought it may have been a misfire but it turns out the team wasn’t convinced that the fuel rig pumped a full 100 litres of fuel on board during refuelling.

“We are going to fit a new wiring loom before Brands Hatch to ensure that we don’t get any more misfires which prevented us from getting valuable testing time on Saturday.”

The British GT season continues with another two-hour endurance race at Brands Hatch in Kent on June 19.