There's been a lot of the administrative team of the British GT season to deal with over the winter. Let alone another 7 rounds and 9 races to deal with, there have been a wealth of entries already put down to race in the 2017 season, with some old friends returning to the party once more. We're still a few favourite teams short of a full house yet, but we've got a lot to play with still!
GT3 - BEECHDEAN ICED OUT
The biggest shock of the winter came with the announcement that Andrew Howard's Beechdean AMR squad, which propelled him to titles in 2013, and 2015 alongside Jonny Adam, have pulled out of British GT to go and play in the European Le Mans Series, where they will be running the V12 Vantage's chunkier V8 brother in the GTE class. This isn't much of a surprise for insiders as Andrew Howard had started to turn his eyes towards the Circuit de la Sarthe and the ELMS, and only reluctantly stepped into the GT3 car last year to fulfil Ross Gunn's step up to the bigger class. Beechdean were a big part of the series for a long time. Fielding at first a Ferrari then the DBRS9 and V12 Vantage Astons, with a wealth of support from the AMR technicians, they rightfully stayed up at the top end of the field over a 4 year period. Aston Martin Racing's presence remains in British GT with the TF Sport and MacMillan Racing teams who will be campaigning the big machine in the GT3 class.
New machines, familiar faces
At Spa and Silverstone last season, we saw the debuts of the Mercedes AMG GT3 and Ferrari 488 GT3 machines, and Britain will have full time entries for both cars in 2017. AMD Tuning have said farewell to their BMW Z4 GT3, and Lee Mowle and Ryan Ratcliffe return as a partnership in the elegant, curvy Merc for the first time since 2014, where they piloted the Z4 for TripleEight racing. As previously announced, Rollcentre will be doing the same and ditching the Z4 for the AMG, whilst AF Corse's Duncan Cameron and the ultra-busy Matt Griffin keeps his fingers in every sports car pie by combining British GT into his 2017 schedule. Cameron and Griffin are not slouches by any means and will be hoping the new Ferrari will bag them honours, just as the 458 once did.
GINETTA HITS ITS CENTURY
The Ginetta corporation are another toucher of every sports car racing base. And with GT3 being a bit of a comparative low point for the Yorkshire folk, they've made a few changes to the G55. Century Motorsport and Nathan Freke have taken onboard the updated and upgraded orange beast, which is now powered by an absolutely whopping 6.2l Chevrolet Engine replacing the (by comparison) smaller 4.35l Ginetta build block. Two of the new-spec Ginettas are out to play this year, and Nathan Freke is joined by 17 year old Pirelli World Challenge starlet Harry Gottsacker, who makes a big leap across the pond out of a GT4 Ginetta and into a big growling one. The drivers for the second car are yet to be announced.
What's missing in GT3?
Well, aside from everyone's favourite ice cream backed team, we're still yet to hear from Team Parker Racing who control the frankly colossally sized Bentley Continental, which last year ran with Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris, taking a win at Oulton Park in the process. We'd be surprised not to see them back as there's unfinished business for the team in the series. Ecurie Ecosse have not yet set out their stall either, although with Rob Bell tied up with International GT Open for 2017, it's not known if he will return should they do with the McLaren 650S GT3. 2017's final race winners could yet appear!
GT4 - WOKING HAS SPOKEN
One thing is certain in GT4 this year, and that is that there will be an absolute landslide of baby McLarens in the series. Once Tolman Motorsport set out their stall with the new flash grey and purple 570S piloted by David Pattison and Joe Osborne, more teams arrived with the little McLaren. Track-Club move to British GT racing from competition in the Lotus Cup with Adam Balon and Adam Mackay at the wheel of their 570S. Balon and Mackay are used to lightweight rear-engined machines with the Lotus and the McLaren could suit them well. Then race prep specialists in2racing announced their intention to race two more across the season, with Richard Marsh and ex-BTCC man Gareth Howell taking the wheel of one car.
Godzilla's little brother
UltraTek Racing have put in entries to the series in the last couple of years with the Lotus Evora GT4, however 2017 sees the return of Nissan to the British GT paddock as the 370Z GT4 comes in to play in the second category. Richard Taffinder is joined by ex-WEC and IndyCar driver Martin Plowman, whilst their second car is piloted by Tim Eakin and yet another BTCC escapee and one time Emmerdale regular Kelvin Fletcher. The RJN squad is helping Ultratek with their effort this year, so are not ones to write off at the fall of the first flag.
The age old British GT4 battle
With MacMillan Racing and Optimum already on the list for 2017, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage vs Ginetta G55 GT4 bunfight wasn't ever going to be abandoned for this year. Team HARD were 2016's team champions, and Tony Gilham once again sets up new partnerships for his Ginettas as Sam Webster partners Howard Fuller and Mike Newbould joins 2012 GT3 champion Michael Caine in the second car for HARD. Lanan return with young stars David Pittard and Alex Reed hoping to better their single race win at Spa in the Ginetta. Aston Martin add Academy Motorsport back to their fold with former champion Matt Nicoll-Jones being joined by lightning starter Will Moore, who raced with the team in 2015 and made his name as an opening stint specialist. Rumours are that Generation AMR Racing may return as well for a few appearances as James Holder and Matty George look to the European GT4 series.
Anyone else in GT4?
We have a pretty packed field as it stands, although notable absences of course at the moment are Beechdean's smaller Aston, as well as the Ecurie Ecosse team, who ran both GT3 and GT4 entries last year. EborGT and the Maserati are also MIA so far, and the Yorkshire based squad would be a miss for both fans and competitors alike.
ENTRIES SO FAR:
GT3 Teams and drivers
TF Sport - Derek Johnston/Jonny Adam, Mark Farmer/Jon Barnes - Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
Barwell Motorsport - Jon Minshaw/Phil Keen, Liam Griffin/Sam Tordoff - Lamborghini Huracan GT3
Rollcentre Racing - Richard Neary/Martin Short - Mercedes AMG GT3
AMD Tuning - Lee Mowle/Ryan Ratcliffe - Mercedes AMG GT3
AF Corse - Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin - Ferrari 488 GT3
MacMillan Racing - Jack Mitchell/James Littlejohn - Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3
Century Motorsport - Nathan Freke/Harry Gottsacker, TBA/TBA - Ginetta G55 GT3
Total so far: 10 - more to come
GT4 Teams and drivers
Optimum Motorsport - Graham Johnson/Mike Robinson - Ginetta G55 GT4
MacMillan Racing - Will Phillips/TBA - Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4
Team HARD RCIB Racing - Sam Webster/Howard Fuller, Mike Newbould/Michael Caine - Ginetta G55 GT4
Tolman Motorsport - David Pattison/Joe Osborne - McLaren 570S GT4
Ultratek Racing - Richard Taffinder/Martin Plowman, Tim Eakin/Kelvin Fletcher - Nissan 370Z GT4
Track-Club - Adam Balon/Adam Mackay - McLaren 570S GT4
In2Racing - Richard Marsh/Gareth Howell, TBA/TBA - McLaren 570S GT4
Lanan Racing - David Pittard/Alex Reed - Ginetta G55 GT4
Academy Motorsport - Matt Nicoll-Jones/Will Moore - Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4
HHC Motorsport - Stuart Middleton/Will Tregurtha - Ginetta G55 GT4
Total so far: 12 - more to come