Middleton sets fast pace in GT

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British GT Championship debutant Stuart Middleton enjoyed a highly productive start to the 2017 season countdown at Snetterton in Norfolk, where the Ashington driver and team-mate William Tregurtha ended the officially timed ‘Media Day’ test an impressive second fastest in GT4.

Marking the first and only officially timed collective outing for the British GT contingent before the opening round of the endurance series at Oulton Park in Cheshire over Easter weekend, yesterday’s outing went as well as could have been expected for HHC Motorsport’s No.55 Ginetta G55 GT4.

Quickest in the first of the day’s three test sessions at Snetterton’s 300 Circuit, with a time of 1m58.398 seconds (90.27mph), in the afternoon during session two the Ginetta posted the third best lap of 1m59.256 seconds (89.62mph).

During session three a time of 1m59.012 seconds (89.80mph) was achieved, placing the team-mates fourth in GT4. Overall for the day, thanks to their morning best, Middleton and Tregurtha concluded the test an excellent second fastest – a mere 0.029 seconds shy of the pace-setting Maserati

“We had a very productive day”, reflected Middleton, “We tried one or two different things with the car and, on the whole, it was a very good day. We’ve still got more to find before the start of the season but everything has gone as well as we could have hoped up to now.

“Will and I bounce off each other really well, it’s great to be teaming-up with him this year as we obviously know each other well from Ginetta Juniors and he’s a great driver. The team management is spot on too, the HHC guys are great to work with.”

After racing to the Vice-Champion’s position in Ginetta Junior last year, his second season in the category, Northumberland-based Middleton confirmed his graduation into the high-profile British GT Championship last November.

Winning the most races of any driver in Juniors last year, scorching to seven victories, Middleton more than made a name for himself and only a run of misfortune ultimately thwarted a realistic bid for the championship title.

The step-up into British GT is certainly a big leap from the ranks of Ginetta Juniors but, says Middleton, it hasn’t been the gulf he expected and he feels more than prepared to mount a strong challenge alongside Tregurtha at HHC when the season gets underway a few weeks from now.

“It’s obviously all a big learning curve for me this year but the leap into a GT4 car hasn’t been as big as I expected”, he commented, “In some senses it’s true, it is a step up, but to get the pace out of the car is very similar to everything we learnt in Juniors. I’m very pleased with how everything is going and I don’t think we’ll be too far off at all when we arrive at Oulton Park for the first round.”

Cheshire’s Oulton Park International Circuit will host the opening two rounds of the British GT season over Easter weekend, 15th/16th/17th April, with each encounter being contested over a duration of one hour.