A New Year heralds the start of another Simsport Racing Championship and this time it’s the turn of the GT3’s to take centre stage with the start of the Simsport Racing GT3 Season 5 Championship.
Having been the host for the enthralling finale of the GT4 Championship at the end of last year, Brands Hatch would host the opening round, with the popular Kent circuit featuring another large grid all ready to do battle and aim get their Championship off to the best of starts. With the new additions to the roster in the Mercedes AMG evo and Ferrari 488 evo, there was a sense of intrigue as to how these new beasts would fare against the likes of the Porsche and Audi, which were amongst the most popular of choices in recent championships.
Following a hectic but entertaining qualifying session, Ross McGregor took the first Pole Position of the season ahead of fellow Bentley Simon Crain and Jannik Moller’s Ferrari.
With just one hour on the clock, the racing was frantic with McGregor and Crain going wheel to wheel right from the moment the lights turned green, only for McGregor to find himself in the barriers as the two battling Bentley’s made contact whilst under pressure from the fast starting Charlie Crossland.
There was also contact between Aaron Martin-Pilkington and Stephen Haley as they went side by side through Dingle Dell, while Karolis Sipavicius pulled off one of the moves of the race with a fantastic switch-back overtake on Roberto Santoro’s Ferrari through the tricky opening corner that is Paddock Hill Bend and to move himself into the Top 10.
With Simon Crain still leading the way, a mistake by Charlie Crossland, running wide on the exit of Clark Curve, left the door open for Jannik Moller to move past to take second position and set his sights on the Bentley ahead.
Myles Dixon produced another contender for overtake of the race, with a terrific move on Luka Zentalis’ Nissan as the pair went into Hawthorn’s which had the commentary team of Steve Proudley and Alex Goldschmidt purring his praises and deservedly so.
As the race entered it’s final ten minutes, Moller’s progress was sadly curtailed following an incident with a back marker facing the wrong way which left him with nowhere to go and as a result dropped to fifth, with the recovering Ross McGregor all over the back of him. Reegan Mitchell was promoted into the podium places as a result.
Dixon and Zentalis were once again involved in some breath taking racing, with the duo going wheel-to-wheel and swapping positions several times in an epic battle which began at Paddock Hill Bend and only ending at Surtees in a fine display of aggressive but clean racing. It was Dixon who once again came out on top on this occasion, but Zentalis would later take his revenge by getting past the number 94 Bentley to round out the top 10.
With the chequered flag waving, it was Simon Crain who crossed the line to take the opening victory of the season in a dominant display in the Bentley and also secured the extra point to taking the fastest lap of the race. Charlie Crossland and Reegan Mitchell completed the podium positions, whilst early protagonist Ross McGregor and Jannick Moller secured great recovery drives following their earlier incidents to come home in fifth and seventh respectively.
With the field split into PRO and AM categories for this season, the AM Class was won by Richard Pixsley, with Martin Durgala and Reece Wiggin rounding out the AM Podium.
Congratulations to both of our category winners, Crain and Pixsley and to all of our podium finishers following a stellar evening of racing.
Next up, our drivers tackle the heights of Kylami and as ever we will be live on our Youtube channel with our live stream of all the action from qualifying and the 90 minute race and we’d love you to join us and get involved.
New to this season and to supplement our popular Live Streams, you can enjoy all the very best of the action with our new post-race highlights package which has been excellently produced by Adam Isailovic and Aaron Martin-Pilkington. Be sure to check it out below and whet the appetite ready for Round 2 from the fabulous Kylami!
Driver and team standings after Round 1:
Picture courtesy of Kunos and Racedepartment