Pirelli is set to play a crucial role in the outcome of the British GT Championship title race as the season draws to a close at Silverstone this weekend.
The premier domestic GT racing series concludes with a three-hour race at the home of British motorsport, with all four class titles up for grabs.
It’s a bumper entry list for the season finale, featuring a total of 38 cars – all equipped with Pirelli tyres – and a guarantee of action throughout the field.
Not only will the field of GT3 and GT4 cars have to master the Grand Prix configuration of the Silverstone circuit, but the endurance nature of the Silverstone 500 race will throw up a number of variables. Added to that is the capricious weather forecast, with track and ambient temperatures making life difficult for drivers to build and maintain heat in their tyres.
Silverstone is a fast circuit, with the long radius curves of Copse and Stowe putting the tyres to the test, while the heavy braking zones of Club, Village and Brooklands are key overtaking spots.
The early sunset will undoubtedly make life tricky for drivers as they battle diminishing light, which should make the closing stages of the final race of the season unpredictable and exciting.
Iconic corners such as Maggots, Becketts and Chapel as well as the high-speed Abbey curve are demanding even in ideal conditions and these are likely to produce action across the field
For 2020, the GT3 competitors will use Pirelli’s new P Zero DHE tyre: an evolution of the previous DHD2, with modifications designed to make it even more versatile for the wide variety of GT3 cars and drivers who use it.
There’s another new tyre for GT4 as well, with the P Zero DHB replacing the DH, once more with the aim of improving all aspects of tyre performance.
The Cinturato WH tyres remain in place for wet weather. All the tyres have been designed to work with a variety of car set-ups and driver, delivering maximum performance 100% of the time.
As for the GTC class, the Porsches will use DHD2 on the front with DHE on the rear, and the Ferrari 488 Challenge will use bespoke fitment DH tyres for this car.
Four crews are mathematically in contention for the overall Drivers’ title this weekend, with the Barwell Motorsport crew of Sandy Mitchell and Rob Collard (#77) and Adam Balon and Phil Keen (#78) leading the charge for Lamborghini. They will be up against championship leaders Sam de Haan and Patrick Kujala in the Ram Racing Mercedes, while the Rocket Team Jenson RJN McLaren duo of James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien are also in the mix.
De Haan and Kujala are just 6.5 points ahead of Mitchell and Collard, who are in a more favourable position heading into the weekend, as the Lamborghini pairing will not have to serve a success time penalty at the third and final pit-stop.
It’s a similar story in the GT4 championship, with TF Sport’s Aston Martin duo Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan holding a 2.5-point margin over HHC Motorsport McLaren’s Patrik Matthiesen and Jordan Collard. Caroline and Vaughan’s TF Sport team-mates Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble are also firmly in contention, just 9.5 points further back in third.
There will be another element to the Silverstone weekend as well, with five GTC – reserved for “Cup” cars entering the field of 38. Two Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cups will join the grid, with 2013 GT4 champion Ryan Ratcliffe teaming up with Karl Leonard, while 2014 GT4 champion Ross Wylie forming a three-driver strong crew in a Ferrari 488 Challenge line-up with Lucky Khera and Lee Frost.
Also turning out in a Ferrari is John Dhillon and Phil Quaife, with Jamie Stanley partnering Laurent de Meeus at FF Corse.
Jonathan Wells, Pirelli UK motorsport manager:
“Silverstone is the most aggressive circuit on this year’s calendar, with extreme levels of lateral demand on the tyres and high top-speeds. Therefore, the wear rate is the highest we would expect to see all year on both slicks and wet tyre variants. The front-left tyre takes a real beating through Copse, Maggots/Becketts, Stowe, Club, Abbey, Luffield and Woodcote, so protecting the left-hand side tyres will make a big difference in maintaining tyre performance over a stint. With the three-hour format, stint lengths tend to be shorter than a two-hour race format due to the minimum number of pitstops required: three stops minimum.
“This means the format does help to manage the cumulative stress levels the tyres endure in each stint. It’s likely that weather will play a big part in the race, which means that making the correct tyre choice at the right time will be critical to maximise the race result, just as we saw at the Spa 24 Hours in Belgium a few weeks ago.”