The GKR TradePriceCars.com team will hope to challenge for points when the 2020 Kwik Fit British Touring Car Championships season draws to a close this weekend at Brands Hatch.
The award-winning, Essex-based motor dealership will make the trip to the famous Kent circuit fielding an unchanged line-up for the season finale, with regular driver Bobby Thompson once again ruled out due to the after-effects of the concussion he suffered at Croft last month.
Having missed the previous event at Snetterton, Bobby was hopeful of being passed fit to return to his Audi S3 for his home event, but the 24-year-old is not yet in a position to compete – bringing bid to win the Jack Sears Trophy title to an unfortunate and premature end.
As a result, MINI Challenge racer Ethan Hammerton will once again step in for Bobby this weekend at Brands Hatch alongside multiple Clio Cup UK champion Paul Rivett, with the pair both hoping to build on the results they gained during their first outings with the team in the previous round.
Despite having no time in the Audi prior to the race weekend, Northallerton racer Ethan made solid progress across the Snetterton meeting and was able to take the best result of his BTCC career to date with 19th place in the second race.
Now free of the additional ballast he had to carry into the Snetterton weekend as a new driver, Ethan will look to build on the progress made on his GKR TradePriceCars.com debut to fight inside the top 20 across the three races on the short Indy circuit, with his goal being to try and break into the points for the first time.
Points are also the goal for Paul at what is the home circuit for the Epsom-based racer after he too made an encouraging debut with the team at Snetterton.
Having led the way amongst the new drivers in qualifying in Norfolk, Paul showed strong pace across all three races as he too scored a best result of 19th, and could well have pushed towards the points had it not been for contact in two of the three races.
Like Ethan, Paul will go into the weekend free of additional ballast on the car, and he will hope to make the most of his extensive experience – and success – around the Brands Hatch circuit to fight for points on Finals Day.
As was the case at Snetterton, the season finale will run to a slightly different schedule as a result of the reduced day light hours, with a single free practice session on Saturday morning being following by qualifying at 12:35 rather than the usual mid-afternoon slot.
Racing on Sunday will then get underway at the earlier than usual time of 10:00, with race two at 12:32 and the final race of the campaign at 15:14.
Qualifying will be available on the ITV website, with all three races airing live on ITV4.
Bobby Thompson, #19 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“I’m gutted that I won’t be able to return to the car this weekend for the final round, particularly when Brands Hatch is my home circuit. I feel okay in myself when I’m doing everyday things, but as soon I start to do anything else, I’m feeling tired and dizzy. The latest medical checks have only confirmed what I already knew, and whilst it’s frustrating, the simple fact is that I’m just not ready to return and it’s the right call to sit it out.
“Given how things had been going at Croft before the accident, and the fact we were leading the standings, it’s a real shame that we can’t try and go for the title but sadly there is nothing we can do about it. If there is one positive thing, then at least I’ve had to miss races behind closed doors, as it would have been a lot more difficult if I knew I had fans and sponsors there cheering me on trackside.
“My focus now turns to next season and working towards putting a deal in place for 2021. My sponsors are excited about the future and I’m working hard on being ready to go when the new season comes around.”
Ethan Hammerton, #23 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“It’s a shame for Bobby that he isn’t able to race again this weekend, but I’m obviously thrilled that the team has asked me to continue in the car for Brands Hatch. It shows they are happy with the job I did at Snetterton, and I’m really looking forward to the season finale.
“Snetterton was always going to be a tricky weekend for me because I didn’t have the chance to do any testing and we also had less practice time that usual, so I was really in at the deep end. However, I felt I got used to the car quickly and was pleased with how I drove. We made good progress across the weekend and to get my best BTCC result so far on race day was a big positive.
“I’m grateful to Dan [Kirby] and the GKR TradePriceCars.com team for the opportunity to race at Brands Hatch and I hope we can build on the progress we made at Snetterton and push towards the points. It should be an exciting weekend with the title on the line and I’m pleased to be part of the grid for it, as this is where I ultimately want to be going forwards.”
Paul Rivett, #222 GKR TradePriceCars.com Audi S3, said:
“I really can’t wait to get to Brands Hatch and I’m excited about the prospect of racing a BTCC car at my home track for the first time. I know the circuit like the back of my hand and have more wins there than anywhere else, so there can be excuses and I’ve got to be looking to improve on the results we scored at Snetterton.
“We did suffer a bit on my first weekend with getting heat into the rear tyres in the cold conditions, but I’m confident that the team can resolve that for the season finale. It is something for us to work on during practice so we can try and qualify well and set us up for a strong race day.
“As at Snetterton, I want to keep my expectations in check, but I really feel at home in the car and I’d hope we can be in the mix for points. The dream scenario would be to get into a position to benefit from the reverse grid for race three, but I’m just going out there to enjoy myself and we’ll have to see what happens.”