British GT: Rd 2 Nürburgring Preview
This weekend’s round of the 2012 Avon Tyres British GT Championship will see a host of new GT3 and GT4 cars join the grids for what promises to be a thrilling pair of 60 minute sprint races on the Nürburgring GP circuit. The only overseas event on the British GT calendar sees the championship run as support to the famous 24 Hours of Nürburgring race and the event has attracted the attention of a number of European competitors as they seek to experience the atmosphere of a British GT weekend; a huge grid of 30 cars is expected to race on the Friday and Saturday in Germany, the championship’s first visit to the legendary track.
Ron Johnson spent a day testing the Northwich Speedworks Motorsport outfit’s Corvette Z06R at Snetterton earlier this month, prompting the 54-year-old to predict a better showing at the Nurburgring than in last month’s opener at Oulton Park. “I feel a lot more confident,” he said. “The test was useful as it allowed me to spend time on track trying different settings on the car. “By the end of the day my best lap time was faster than the quickest from last season, and on old tyres too.” Speedworks will again run the Oilfield Production Consultants-backed machine in its 2011 specification with parts that could help the car to go faster still not ready. Neither Ron, nor co-driver Piers Johnson, were able to test the 560bhp challenger over the winter after a delay getting permission from motorsport’s governing body – the FIA – to fit the upgrades.
“Callaway, who build and run the Corvette in Europe, are continuing to test and develop the upgrades," said Piers. “It has entered a 2012-spec car in the Nurburgring 24-hours race next weekend, so we’ll know more after that.” Piers, 42, returns to a circuit at which he raced a TVR as part of the Le Mans series in 2005, finishing sixth in class. However Ron, like the series itself, visits the Nurburg venue for the first time. He said: “I’ll have to learn quickly, but have been doing my homework. “I think I’ll be fine, since some of the other gentleman drivers have also not raced there before either. “I’m looking forward finding out if the test at Snetterton puts us more in the mix. Let’s hope so.”
A spin on a sodden surface during the first race at Oulton Park over Easter ended early their participation while closing in on the top ten, before placing 17th at the end of race two in even worse on-track conditions. Piers hopes fortune will favour the pair this time around. He added: “It was important for Ron to make the most of time in the car [at Snetterton] because we’ve not been able to test during pre-season.
“The day was really productive and we think changes to its set-up will improve how the car handles.” The Johnsons are on track for two free practice sessions on Thursday morning followed later the same day by a half hour qualifying period.
Race one is at 3.30pm on Friday, while on Saturday the lights go green at 8.15am.