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Spa: Friday Paddock Notes

News nibs from the British GT paddock in the Ardennes

Neville concerned about GT4’s development

RJN boss Bob Neville has been enjoying his season racing with UltraTek’s pair of Nissan 370Zs in GT4 this year (featured), though he has expressed to DSC a slight concern for the direction of GT4.

The BoP he says, has been extremely good this season from SRO in the class, enabling the older 370Z GT4 – which as it stands has no replacement is in the works – to remain competitive. But, the development of the cars in other areas has left Neville feeling that the older cars are at a genuine disadvantage in areas outside of raw pace.

“We are very much GT4 people at RJN, we build the Nissan 370Z GT4 car,” he told DSC. “If someone wants one, then they buy it from us, so we’re always keen to see them out there. It’s old, and still competitive because we work hard from it. There’s no plan for another car, we’ve built and sold six and we’re all geared up with it and are committed. We’ve just built a fresh chassis for instance, which is ready for purchase, it’s still competitive, why change?

“The BoP has been very fair, because SRO is so experienced, but there’s one or two things creeping in that’s food for thought. One big thing is that the new McLaren has centre-lock wheels, that is a massive advantage for pit stops. Although all pit stops are on a controlled time, if you can get something done very quickly, it gives more time if something else to goes wrong.

“If your driver change goes wrong during the race, and you’ve changed the wheels, you can still get it fixed and be in with a minimum time. When you’re there with a wheel gun putting in five wheel nuts, it cuts that time down.

“It’s the same in free practice also, you’ve only got one hour, and when you change tyres, you’re wasting minutes. To change it we would have to re-homologate the car, but we think if one car has it, you’ve all got to have it. It’s a serious development that’s occurred without anyone noticing. That sort of thing can really bring a disparity to the class.”

Simpson becomes a BRDC Member

Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson is now a full BRDC Member DSC discovered today, and is sporting a BRDC patch on his overalls for the first time this weekend.

“I’m really proud to be part of the BRDC now, and have a share in Silverstone. It’s a really prestigious club, and one of the few that you can’t buy into, that you have to get in on merit.

“The criteria to get in is strict, you have to have at least three seasons of international racing under your belt in series they recognise, and at least four overall podiums in GT3 or podiums and a class win in races over three hours long.

“I was kindly proposed to become a member after matching that criteria by Guy Smith and seconded by Steve Tandy. It’s a real honour.”

DSC sends Simpson congratulations on this achievement. This weekend, he’s racing, as usual, alongside Anna Walewska in the #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4.

Tordoff enjoying first trip to Spa

Prior to this week, Barwell Motorsport driver Sam Tordoff had never even travelled to Spa, let alone driven it, so it’s safe to say he’s been like a kid on Christmas turning his first laps of the circuit this week. While today provided him with his first chance to drive the circuit in the Huracan GT3, he did compete in the Spa 24 Hours Test Day on Tuesday with Strakka Racing in a McLaren 650S GT3, an experience which he said, was extremely valuable.

“Spa is fabulous, what everyone says it is, and more,” he said to DSC. |I love undulating circuits in the trees, and that’s exactly what Spa is in a nutshell. I’ve been lucky to have had the Blancpain Test Day for Spa this week, as valuable practice ahead of this weekend.

“I needed it too, as before Monday night I’d never seen the place. There’s still lots to learn, corners like Eau Rouge and Blanchimont take a lot of knowledge to get the most of out. I’m not quite there yet, but I’m really happy with how it’s progressing.

“I did a lot of running at the test. Admittedly it was in the McLaren, not the same car, so there is some differences there, but it was about familiarisation rather than specific gears for each corner, that sort of thing. The two cars are very different round here, because of their characteristics. It’s taken a little bit of adjustment, but I’m dialled in.

“We’re looking good this weekend, Liam (Griffin) is driving well, he’s chipping away.”

33 cars set for tomorrow’s races

Following the withdrawal of the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 after Duncan Cameron’s off at Blanchimont, the British GT entry for tomorrow’s races has been reduced to 33.

All the other entries have set times so far though, including all the one-off additions for this weekend in GT3 and GT4, with no further driver changes since the pre-meeting entry list. Both the Optimum Motorsport McLaren and Ebor GT Maserati – despite not making it out for Qualifying – are due to take the start tomorrow morning in Race 1.

Photos courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography