Current British GT front-runner Derek Johnston and reigning British GT 4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe will drive together for the first time in a Triple Eight-run BMW Z4 GT3 at the upcoming GT Cup race on the Brands Hatch GP circuit (17/18 May).
While not part of an ongoing campaign in the increasingly popular GT series, the one-off outing provides both drivers with differing opportunities; for Derek, the 2012 GT Cup Champion, it provides him with invaluable track time on the 2.433 mile GP-loop of the famous Kent circuit ahead of the British GT encounter later in the year (30/31 August). Currently Derek is third in the British GT Championship and at the last event was awarded the prestigious Blancpain Gentleman Driver of the Weekend award.
For the young Welshman it represents an opportunity to keep ‘match-fit’ while he carries out his migration into a GT3 driver as part of Triple Eight’s driver development programme, TEDD. Following four successful tests and fitness work also well underway, Ryan is relishing an opportunity to take to the track in arguably one of the best GT3 cars of the current era, the BMW Z4 GT3.
Now in its seventh year in existence and its fourth with championship credentials, GT Cup is growing in stature, and regularly has GT3 challengers in its ranks. The Brands Hatch weekend looks set to swell to a buoyant 30 cars or more.
“It’s a great opportunity to get some laps in on the GP circuit before British GT. With such limited running on that layout and given I’ve not driven the BMW there before it makes sense to do the GT Cup round. The fact Ryan also wants to go out and complete some race miles is a bonus, we both have our own agenda for going there. It’ll be great to see how Ryan gets on, he’s been putting a lot of work in behind the scenes.”
“Derek wants to use the GT Cup round as a test for the British GT round; it’s so rare to get testing there on the GP loop due to the noise limitations on that track. Triple Eight saw that as an opportunity for me to jump in and see how I fare in a race situation with the Z4. I’m looking forward to it as it won’t be too pressured, but it still has enough good competition for it to be relevant such as Ben Barker in a Porsche. The driver development work I’ve done so far has been great, but both the team and I are aware that your sharpness can fade if you’re not out there racing with cars around you. I think jumping in the car here and at some other opportunities during the season will keep me fresh for next year. I took pole there last year in GT4 and won, and it’s also one of my favourite tracks in the UK, so I’m definitely excited. Dan Brown stuck the Z4 on pole there last year, so we’re hoping for a good result.”
Source. Triple Eight Engineering/Photo. Jack Mitchell