24 November 2017

2017 title winners honoured at SRO's Night of the Champions in Paris

2017 title winners honoured at SRO's Night of the Champions in Paris

> Osborne wins Allan Simonsen Award
> GT4 champions Tregurtha and Middleton also named Rookies of the Year 
> Speed and spirit earns Track Club PMW Expo’s Team of the Year prize
> '25 years of GT racing' celebrations cap glittering evening


British GT’s 2017 champions were crowned at the historic Palais Brongniart in Paris earlier today as part of SRO Motorsports Group’s annual awards evening.


Unlike previous years, the glittering event – held at the French capital’s 19th century former stock exchange – made up one element of a star-studded evening celebrating 25 years of GT racing. Drivers and team representatives instrumental to the sport’s growth over the past quarter-century rubbed shoulders and shared stories with their modern-day contemporaries from the myriad GT3 and GT4 categories organised by SRO around the world.

Several British GT luminaries were in attendance, including Beechdean AMR’s two-time GT3 champion Andrew Howard who was named an ‘SRO hero’ by founder and CEO Stephane Ratel.

British GT is the only domestic series in SRO’s portfolio to feature multi-class racing, and both its GT3 and GT4 title winners were on stage to collect their championship trophies. Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr sealed theirs, Team Parker Racing’s and Bentley’s maiden British GT crown at Donington in September, while HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton became the youngest crew in terms of combined age ever to win the GT4 title.

It was a busy evening for Parfitt Jnr who also collected his Blancpain Gentleman Trophy prize – the historic Swiss watchmaker’s limited edition and engraved 8885S chronograph – as well as the Pro/Am class trophy alongside Morris.

“It feels even more special to be collecting my trophies and Blancpain watch in Paris as part of SRO’s celebrations – there’s some serious car porn out the front with all the GT1s!” said Parfitt Jnr. “Andy Soucek was the first person to greet me at the door and offered his congratulations. That means a lot coming from a driver of his calibre. It’s been an amazing year, it’s always an utter privilege to compete in British GT, and – all being well – I’ll be back to carry #1 in 2018.”

Equally, Middleton and Tregurtha collected their GT4 Silver Cup trophy, while the duo they replaced as overall champions – PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson – picked up their GT4 Pro/Am Cup title.

There were also appearances on stage by Barwell Motorsport’s Mark Lemmer and HHC Motorsport’s Charlie Kemp who collected their respective GT3 and GT4 Teams’ titles. Finally, Phil Keen and Joe Osborne were confirmed as 2017’s GT3 and GT4 Sunoco Fastest Drivers of the Year.

ALLAN SIMONSEN AWARD WINNER: JOE OSBORNE


British GT’s Allan Simonsen Award – named in honour of the championship’s much missed Danish star – offers an opportunity to recognise the speed and spirit of a driver whose performances might have gone unnoticed during the year. In 2017 that driver was Joe Osborne.


Having competed in the championship’s GT3 class for several seasons, Osborne made the bold decision to re-join the GT4 ranks at the start of 2017 as Tolman Motorsport’s professional alongside David Pattison. 


While reliability issues and bad luck prevented the crew from claiming an outright GT4 victory, Osborne’s speed aboard the McLaren was never in doubt, while Pattison also attributed his personal improvement to the 28-year-old’s tuition. The stealth grey 570S was frequently the fastest car on track once Osborne climbed aboard, and his charging stints became a regular fixture throughout the campaign. 


Two pole positions and fastest laps - the latter also earning him GT4’s Sunoco Fastest Driver of the Year Award - along with three Pro/Am wins, the same number of overall class podiums and second in GT4's final Pro/Am standings undoubtedly proved Osborne’s credentials.


“This is a really personal award for me because I considered Allan a friend,” he said. “I used to live with his brother Benny when we worked together at Bedford Aerodrome and Allan would come and stay from time to time. I was just starting out in racing but Allan was always very honest and pushed me to better myself. Then, when I joined British GT, he continued to offer advice and became something of a hero of mine in the paddock.


“So it’s nice to be recognised as having the same qualities as Allan. I don’t think I’ve been much quicker than previous seasons but one thing that has changed is my attitude towards racing and maybe how I present myself. I guess that didn’t go unnoticed. Of course winning the GT4 championship would have been nice, but I genuinely would have swapped it for the Allan Simonsen Award. I feel incredibly honoured to have won it.”


Osborne is the first GT4 driver to win the award since its inception in 2013. He joins an illustrious list featuring Le Mans winners Nick Tandy and Jonny Adam, BMW Motorsport factory star Alexander Sims, and British GT3’s Sunoco Fastest Driver of the Year, Phil Keen.

 

ROOKIES OF THE YEAR: WILL TREGURTHA AND STUART MIDDLETON


Just like the Allan Simonsen Award, British GT’s Rookie of the Year prize has traditionally recognised personal performance over championship position. However, for the first time ever, the 2017 award was claimed by a crew who also won the title at their first attempt: Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton.


HHC’s teenage pairing – both just 17 when they won the crown at Donington – were inseparable throughout the year after also finishing one-two in 2016’s Ginetta Junior standings. That their combined performances also netted HHC the Teams’ title despite fielding just one car further strengthens their claims to being top rookies in 2017. 


Equally, Tregurtha only missed out on GT4’s Sunoco Fastest Driver of the Year Award on count-back, while Middleton out-performed not only his British GT rivals but also those from across several series to win the Sunoco Whelen Challenge’s fully-funded sports-prototype drive at this January’s Daytona 24 Hours.

 

PMW EXPO TEAM OF THE YEAR: TRACK CLUB


British GT’s final standalone prize of the evening – PMW Expo Team of the Year – recognised a squad that had excelled during periods of success and adversity. Throughout a rollercoaster campaign, Track Club experienced both.


The team, along with drivers Adam Balon and Adam Mackay, made an immediate impression at Oulton Park by winning on debut, and claimed a second outright GT4 victory of the season at the championship’s blue riband Silverstone 500. However, while speed was never in short supply, reliability issues and bad luck seemed to stalk Track Club’s McLaren, and never was that better demonstrated than at Spa where the team worked tirelessly to cure a persistent turbo problem.


While others suffered their own fair share of setbacks, the judging panel felt Track Club’s all-round contribution marked them out as worthy PMW Expo Team of the Year winners.


British GT’s 2018 campaign kicks off at Oulton Park on March 31-April 2.

 

2017 BRITISH GT CHAMPIONS AND AWARD WINNERS

British GT3 Drivers’ Championship

1st Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, Team Parker Racing
2nd Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, Barwell Motorsport
3rd Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, TF Sport
 
British GT3 Pro/Am Drivers’ Championship
1st Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris, Team Parker Racing
2nd Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, Barwell Motorsport
3rd Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, TF Sport
 
British GT4 Drivers’ Championship
1st Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton, HHC Motorsport
2nd Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport
3rd Alex Reed and David Pittard, Lanan Racing
 
British GT4 Pro/Am Drivers’ Championship
1st Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson, PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport
2nd David Pattison and Joe Osborne, Tolman Motorsport
3rd Adam Balon and Adam Mackay, Track Club
 
British GT4 Silver Cup Drivers’ Championship
1st Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton, HHC Motorsport
2nd Alex Reed and David Pittard, Lanan Racing
3rd William Phillips, Macmillan AMR
 
British GT3 Teams’ Championship

1st Barwell Motorsport
2nd TF Sport
3rd Team Parker Racing
 
British GT4 Teams’ Championship
1st HHC Motorsport
2nd Black Bull Garage 59
3rd PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport
 
Awards
Allan Simonsen Award Winner: Joe Osborne
Rookies of the Year Winners: Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton
Blancpain Gentleman Trophy Winner: Rick Parfitt Jnr
Sunoco GT3 Fastest Driver of the Year Winner: Phil Keen
Sunoco GT4 Fastest Driver of the Year Winner: Joe Osborne
PMW Expo Team of the Year Winner: Track Club

EDITOR'S NOTES 

Allan Simonsen Award:
Following the tragic loss of popular Danish driver, Allan Simonsen, at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2013 British GT Championship organisers, SRO Motorsports Group, announced that a special award would be created in his honour. Allan had been a regular in the series since 2004 and the prize was intended to ensure his spirit and legacy lived on.
 
Allan was a familiar face in the British GT paddock and Rosso Verde garage, but it was his ability to produce last-gasp pole position laps and thrilling race stints that really elevated him from the rest. The stylish trophy created in his honour is awarded annually to the driver that races with pace, humility and good humour; characteristics that Simonsen possessed and demonstrated during every British GT weekend.
 
Previous winners:
2016: Phil Keen
2015: Alexander Sims
2014: Jonny Adam
2013: Nick Tandy
 
Sunoco Fastest Driver of the Year:
First presented in 2015, the Sunoco Fastest Driver of the Year prize is awarded to the consistently quickest driver from both classes over the course of the season. It’s based on the total number of overall fastest race laps per weekend.
 
PMW Expo Team of the Year:
The Professional Motorsport World Expo Team of the Weekend Award is presented to the outfit that goes above and beyond or produced a stand-out act during each British GT event. This, amongst other considerations, might include overcoming a particularly difficult technical issue, executing an innovative race strategy to perfection or achieving an unexpected result in the face of adversity. A trophy is awarded to each winner at every round before one overall Team of the Year is crowned at the end-of-season prize giving ceremony where their sporting attitude, dedication and spirit are recognised.