The 2018 British GT Championship is shaping up to be a fantastic season. Six manufacturers in GT3 alone with factory representation across the grid combined with young academy drivers and experienced Am's it is going to be an incredibly close fought championship.
With the FIA World Endurance Championship now split across 2018 and 2019, a number of factory GT drivers have been drafted into the championship. Aston Martin have called in five of their six FIA WEC factory drivers with Darren Turner, Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Maxime Martin joining Jonny Adam.
Maxime Martin has made the switch from BMW to the Aston Martin Racing squad and this year will race with Graham Davidson in the Jetstream Motorsport Aston Martin. Davidson has made the step up from the GT Cup for the 2018 season.
Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen will combine their WEC commitments with British GT this year, both of them racing in separate cars for TF Sport. Marco Sorensen will partner with 2016 champion Derek Johnston whilst Nicki Thiim teams up with Mark Farmer.
Former champion Jonny Adam joins Optimum Motorsport alongside championship new comer Flick Haigh. Adam has two titles to his name so far and will be feeling confident about the team's chances this season.
Darren Turner completes the Aston Martin factory line up, joining Andrew Howard after a successful pairing in the European Le Mans Series. Andrew Howard is a double British champion in his own right and with Darren Turner alongside him this year, he is certainly in with a chance.
Bentley are one of the few manufacturers on the grid this year without a works representation. Team Parker return with their two Continental GT3's along with reigning champion Rick Parfitt, Ian Loggie and Calum Macleod. Former GT4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe steps into the seat vacated by Seb Morris who has moved on to the Blancpain series in Europe.
The regular pairing of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen return with Barwell Motorsport but with Barwell running a three-car line up this season. Former GT3 champion Leo Machitski returns to the championship alongside Lamborghini regular Patrick Kujala. The third and final Barwell car features the 2004 champion Jonny Cocker who is joined by Sam de Haan, a young up and coming GT driver in his own right.
McLaren make a return to the GT3 ranks this season with factory driver Rob Bell competing with Shaun Balfe's Balfe Motorsport in the 650S GT3. The pairing took the GT Open Pro-Am class championship in 2017 in the same car so will be looking to continue their success.
Championship new comers ERC Sport join the championship with a factory backed Mercedes AMG GT3. Yelmer Buurman joins the championship alongside championship regular Lee Mowle.
RJN Motorsport return to the GT3 ranks with a Silver entry GT-R Nismo piloted by Struan Moore and Devon Modell. The car is a 2015 spec Nissan but with the Silver paring, they should still be in contention throughout the season. Both drivers have experience in the car having competed in the Blancpain GT Series with RJN and Moore will run a joint Blancpain/British GT campaign this season.
GT4 continues to go from strength to strength around the world and this year in British GT, there are 23 full season entries, the biggest ever GT4 class in the British championship's history.
Aston Martin are once again represented by Matt Nicoll-Jones and the Academy Motorsport crew who field two cars this season. Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore took two podiums in the final two races of last season and will be looking to carry that form on into this season.
Century Motorsport make the switch from Ginetta to the new BMW M4 GT4 this season. They have two cars entered this season with Ben Green and Ben Tuck in the #42 car and Jack Mitchell and Aleksander Schjerpen in the #43. Ricky Collard has stepped in for Schjerpen this weekend who will return from Rockingham onwards.
As always, Ginetta have a strong representation in GT4 with four G55's split two and two between HHC Motorsport and Team Hard. The 2017 champions Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton may have moved on from the team but Callum Pointon and Patrik Matthiesen join the squad alongside Mike Newbould and Will Burns in the sister car.
Anna Walewska makes the switch from Century back to Team Hard alongside championship new comer Callum Hawkins-Rowe in the #34 whilst Benjamin Wallace and Nick Worm will campaign the full season in the #88 car. Worm could not be at Oulton this weekend however and William Phillips steps into to cover making his return to team hard after racing with Macmillan AMR in 2017.
Jaguar make their return to GT racing with the Invictus Games Racing Jaguar F-Type SVR GT4. The cars are unique to British GT and part of a unique concept assisting with the rehabilitation of injured service personnel from the British Armed Forces. Matthew George and Jason Wolfe will be the team's Pro drivers at Oulton Park with Royal Marine Steve McCulley and RAF Sergeant Ben Norfolk will be the Am drivers.
McLaren have a strong representation in the British GT championship this year, the McLaren 570S GT4 made its global debut in the 2016 championship and now is the most represented car on the grid. Tolman Motorsport return to the championship with three cars. Joe Osborne was promoted to the factory driver ranks over the winter break and will once again partner with David Pattison in the #56 car. The #4 and #5 cars are made up of the four McLaren Young Drivers, Michael O'Brien, Charlie Fagg, Jordan Albert and Lewis Proctor.
Reigning Pro/Am champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson return in the McLaren 570S but this year the car will be run by Balfe Motorsport.
McLaren factory driver Ben Barnicoat will race the #72 Track-Club 570S alongside Adam Balon and Dutch team Equipe Verschuur expand into the UK championship in the #10 McLaren with Finlay Hutchinson and Daniel McKay at the wheel.
2018 sees the brand new Mercedes AMG GT4 join the championship with three cars split between Team Parker Racing (once again with Nick Jones and Scott Malver), Fox Motorsport with Michael Broadhurst and Mark Murfitt, and Richardson Racing. Team Parker made the switch over the winter break from the Porsche Cayman whilst Fox stepped up from the GT Cup.
The two RJN run Nissan 370Z's make a return to GT4 with Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman pairing up once again. The second car will be run this year by Stephen Johanssen and Jesse Anttila who has previous experience in the championship with the IN2Racing McLaren team.
And finally, Steller Motorsport enter two Toyota GT86 GT4 cars which were previously run by GPRM. Steller are fielding the youngest British GT driver in history, Tom Canning (16) who will drive the #68 car alongside Sennan Fielding. The #86 Car will be driven by Alex Quinn and Dean McDonald who is now into his second year of GT racing.