For more than 25 years the British GT Championship has formed an intrinsic part of the UK’s national motorsport fabric. But, having undergone a number of changes throughout those that quarter-century, it’s difficult to envisage an era more competitive than the current GT3/4 format.
First organised by the British Racing Drivers Club in 1993, the BRDC National Sports GT Challenge (as it was then known) featured grids of wildly different machinery loosely grouped into vibrant classes comprising sportscars and saloons.
The term ‘British GT’ was first used in 1995 just as a new age of GT1 and GT2 cars was beginning to materialise. Indeed, the latter part of the 1990s would see some of the category’s most incredible and iconic cars, such as the McLaren F1 GTR, Porsche 911 GT1, Lister Storm GTL and Jaguar XJ220C contest British GT in the hands of top-line international racers and home-grown amateur talent.
But a GT racing revolution was about to take place, and Britain would be at the forefront. With GT1 becoming an increasingly distant memory and GT2 proving too costly the championship sought a fresh direction. New, balanced GT3 regulations had proven popular in Europe under SRO’s guidance and when the organisation was appointed British GT promoter in 2005 the same cars made their way across the Channel.
Indeed, since then British GT has re-established itself as the world’s foremost domestic GT series. GT4’s arrival and subsequent expansion currently sees two classes running on the same track at once, an important aspect of GT competition that enables a driver to prepare for international endurance racing, while the option to also field GTC entries remains a possibility.
Traditional British sportscar manufacturers have always featured heavily in the series: Lotus, TVR, Marcos, Darrian, Lister and, more recently, Chevron, Ginetta, Aston Martin, McLaren and Bentley have underlined the championship’s unique British spirit.
British GT race weekends typically run Saturday-Sunday. The exception to this is Oulton Park (Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday)
60mins Free Practice 1
60mins Free Practice 2
10mins GT3 Am Qualifying
10mins GT3 Pro Qualifying
10mins GT4 Am Qualifying
10mins GT4 Pro Qualifying
60/120/180mins Race 1
60mins Race 2 (Oulton Park and Snetterton only)
In races lasting one hour the top three finishers in each class from the previous round must respectively serve an additional 10, 7, 5 second success penalty during their mandatory pit-stop. During races lasting two hours or longer the top three finishers in each class from the previous round must respectively serve an additional 20, 15 and 10-second success penalty during their mandatory pit-stop.
Competitors must make at least one pit-stop during all British GT races. During the Silverstone 500, the season’s only three-hour race, competitors must make three mandatory pit stops.
All cars are subject to a minimum pit-stop time. This starts as the car crosses the pit-in line and ends as it triggers the timing beam at pit-out. Anyone found to be under this time must serve a stop/go penalty to the same value as they were under time (eg 10secs too fast in the pits equals a 10secs stop/go penalty).
During one-hour races the minimum time a driver can spend behind the wheel is 25 minutes. This minimum time rises to 60 minutes for Am/Starting drivers in races lasting two hours.
Failure to adhere to these time scales will result in a stop/go penalty or additional time added post-race.
There are always four qualifying segments determined by driver grading and class…
1x GT3 Am
1x GT3 Pro
1x GT4 Am
1x GT4 Pro
…but their significance depends on the number of races being held that weekend.
2x one-hour races: each car’s Am and Pro driver’s best individual time will determine the grid for Race 1 and Race 2, respectively.
1x 2 or 3-hour races: each of the Am and Pro’s fastest lap times are combined to determine the starting order. The lowest combined time takes pole for each class. The Am will start the Race.
Each of the four sessions last 10 minutes.
Classes are split, meaning GT3 and GT4 cars do not run at the same time.
Drivers must complete two timed laps (not including in and out laps).