Crunch-time in Corby for Triple Eight, as British GT title race ramps up

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography
Photo: Jakob Ebrey Photography
After making their best start to an Avon Tyres British GT Championship season at Oulton Park last time out, Triple Eight Racing’s Joe Osborne and Lee Mowle head to the Rockingham Motor Speedway in Corby this weekend (2-3 May), looking to build on their third place in the championship and out perform the other BMW Motorsport customer teams in attendance.

Both drivers excelled in the difficult pair of 60-minute races at the opening weekend, with Osborne and Mowle taking a third in race one, and a fifth in race two. Leaving Cheshire both drivers felt more was achievable, with Osborne hampered by GT4 traffic in race one, losing him second place, and a pit infringement costing the BMW duo another podium in the final race of the weekend.

This weekend marks the first of four 120-minute races in the British GT Championship, the largest amount since the series switched to the GT3 format, as it’s main class in 2007. Having predominantly been based on 60-minute ‘sprint’ racing, it marks a turning point for the series, one which Triple Eight’s driving duo welcome.

Rockingham’s banked corners are well documented, but in past years it has been the circuit’s abrasive surface that has caused teams more issues, with tyre-wear a major challenge for teams competing in the two-hour race.

With a new-for -2015 tyre produced by Avon, it was important that a good understanding of how the new rubber would perform at Rockingham was achieved prior to the weekend. Indeed a test a fortnight ago on the 2.05 mile Rockingham International Long Circuit gave more cause for cheer back at the team’s Greatworth HQ. Heading to Corby, Osborne and Mowle are in fine fettle, with spirits also buoyed by a pacey performance in the opening round of the pan-European Blancpain Endurance Series.

Rockingham is also the first of five weekends in the British GT Championship to be televised live on Motors TV. This means that anyone in the UK with a ‘Freeview’ television will be able to watch the racing live on Sunday.

Action begins at Rockingham on Saturday with two free practice sessions (09:25 and 12:25), before the two 10-minute qualifying sessions start at 15:35 and 15:48. On Sunday there is a brief 10-minute warm-up to re-acclimatise drivers with the challenging Rockingham circuit, before the race begins at 13:25, live on Motors TV.

Quotes from the Triple Eight drivers ahead of Rockingham:

Joe Osborne: “Rockingham is my personal favourite track we visit for two reason, mainly because I go really fast there, secondly because I really like Corby. We had a really good test there a fortnight ago and made some good changes, which worked well on the track; hopefully come qualifying we can be near the front. Lee’s pace is really strong at the moment and I am pretty optimistic that we are in the best shape possible for Rockingham. In the race we expect the other BMW teams to be quick and to join us in taking the fight to the series-leading Astons. The FF Corse Ferrari can’t be discounted either, following its victory at the track last year and it’s pace in the first round too.

Lee Mowle: “I prefer the two-hour races, it gives me more seat time and a chance to get stuck in to the race. Testing went very well recently, and we must now convert that into a good qualifying and race result. Previously Rockingham hasn’t been a kind circuit to me, but that has to change at some point. Joe and I are arguably stronger in the endurance races than we are in the sprints too, so hopefully we can get a good result this weekend.

(Triple Eight Racing)