Ireland’s BTCC race winner Árón Taylor-Smith returns to the cockpit for 2019 as he joins RACE Performance to drive an iconic GT4 Ford Mustang, alongside Sam Smelt. A record 38 full-season entries will contest the 2019 British GT Championship, which stages its annual Media Day at Donington Park later today (March 5).
Árón Taylor-Smith “I’m thrilled to be joining Sam Smelt in this years British GT Championship in the Race Performance Ford Mustang. It’s been a crazy winter but I can’t wait to get my head down and kick off the new season in style. A huge thank you to all of my partners. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel again!”
Inspired by the Ford Shelby GT350R-C, the Ford Mustang GT4 has been designed and engineered jointly by Ford Performance and Multimatic Motorsports to compete in sports car championship racing series globally. The car is powered by a Roush-Yates Engines custom built dry-sumped 5.2L V8 GT4 race engine, with a Holinger RD-6 sequential paddle shift transmission.
The series’ 27th campaign maintains the trend of recent seasons by featuring more cars than ever before. Although one-off entries have occasionally resulted in larger grids at specific events, this year’s full-season total across GT3, GTC and GT4 surpasses the previous SRO Motorsports Group era record of 36 set in 2018 and 2014. It is also believed to be the largest since the championship was established in 1993.
Only circuit restrictions have prevented British GT from accepting even more cars this year. However, that hasn’t stopped organisers assembling another varied entry list, which comprises 10 manufacturers across its three classes.
14 GT3s built by seven manufacturers (both the biggest numbers to contest British GT’s senior class’ since 2016) are confirmed. Five of those models – the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3, Bentley Continental GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, McLaren 720S GT3 and Porsche 911 GT3 R – are available to customers for the first time this year, while the BMW M6 GT3 also makes its British GT debut in 2019. Indeed, only the Mercedes-AMG GT3, which comprises just 14% of the top class, has previously raced in the UK’s national GT championship.
There’s also a wealth of talent in GT3, which features drivers with a combined total of 13 British GT titles. Reigning champion Jonny Adam will be eager to extend the GT3 and overall wins record beyond his current 14 while also monitoring the progress of Phil Keen who remains just one behind. Victory for Adam or any of Aston Martin’s other three entries would also move it level with Porsche on the list of most British GT3 wins by a manufacturer, which stands at 33.
Meanwhile, the GTC class also returns full-time to British GT for the first time since 2013 courtesy of a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and WPI Motorsport, which will evaluate its GT3 graduation as the season progresses.
Elsewhere, the popularity of GT4 shows no sign of abating thanks to a record-equalling 23 cars and eight manufacturers. Four models – the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4, Ford Mustang GT4, KTM X-Bow GT4 and Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport – are either brand-new for 2019 or have never previously contested a British GT round. A ninth manufacturer could also join the full-season entry list before Oulton Park opens the campaign on April 20 & 22.
With GT4 champion Jack Mitchell and runner-up Ben Green graduating to GT3, the stage is set for new contenders to emerge, including Ireland’s Arón Taylor-Smith. The former BTCC star joins Sam Smelt in a Race Performance Mustang. Reigning Pro-Am title winners Nick Jones and Scott Malvern head the current list of eight Pro-Am crews, while 13 are registered to contest the Silver Cup. Just three of GT4’s 23 driver line-ups remain unannounced.
Further entries across all three classes are expected to race at Silverstone, Donington and Spa-Francorchamps.
In other news, all nine of this year’s British GT races will be streamed live for the first time ever after Spa-Francorchamps was added to the schedule. Coverage of the championship’s annual trip to Belgium will be shown live on British GT’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel, just like each of the six UK-based events.
Benjamin Franassovici, British GT Championship General Manager: “The response from existing and new teams and drivers has once again surpassed our expectations. We previously limited ourselves to a maximum of 36 full-season entries but the unprecedented level of demand since registration opened last October has required us to re-evaluate. GT4 remains as popular as ever and I’m delighted to welcome so many new teams, drivers and cars. Greater capacity would have seen us break 2018’s class records, but we should still be extremely pleased to have matched the same number of entries and manufacturers. In any case, we will undoubtedly see more race-by-race entries as the season progresses. Likewise GT3 where we have one more full-season entry than last year. However, it’s the abundance of new models that has impressed and excited me the most. Investment like this demonstrates our teams’ commitment to and belief in British GT, as well as again proving GT3 and GT4’s status as the most suitable platforms for amateur, young and professional drivers alike.”
Oulton Park kicks off British GT’s seven-round, nine-race 2019 campaign on Easter Bank Holiday Weekend (April 20 & 22).