M-Sport to race in British GT Championship
|By Gary Watkins||Thursday, March 7th 2013, 12:10 GMT|
The M-Sport World Rally squad will race in the 2013 British GT Championship as it prepares for Bentley's return to sportscar racing later in the year, AUTOSPORT magazine has revealed.
Ford's long-time World Rally Championship partner will field a solo 2013-spec Audi R8 LMS ultra for former MG factory driver Warren Hughes and Dutch amateur Rembert Berg, starting at the opening round of the series at Oulton Park on April 1.
M-Sport will build and run the new Bentley Continental GT3 racer, due to hit the track at the end of the summer, and has put together a programme in the British series in order to learn about circuit racing.
Team owner Malcolm Wilson told AUTOSPORT: "Our background is 100 percent rallying, apart from running in T-Cars with my son Matthew.
"This is about getting match fit for the second half of the season when the Bentley arrives.
"We are beginning a new chapter. We have no concerns on the engineering side, but we know we lack experience in terms of racecraft."
Wilson stressed that the programme is independent of Bentley, but revealed that John Wickham, who is co-ordinating the GT3 project for the British manufacturer, will undertake a team management role with M-Sport at the races.
The programme came together after Hughes linked up with 39-year-old Berg, whose has limited racing experience in Belcar, BOSS GP and the Renault Eurocup Megane Trophy.
M-Sport has committed to running the Audi at the first four weekends of the championship, but Wilson left the door open on the team completing the series.
M-Sport's Audi is due to arrive at the team's Cumbria headquarters this week ahead of a first test at Oulton Park next week. The team has one more day of testing, also at Oulton, scheduled ahead of the first race.
The Bentley Continental GT3 car is due to race for the first time before the end of the season ahead of an attack on the Blancpain Endurance Series with M-Sport in 2014.
For more on M-Sport's British GT move, see this week's edition of AUTOSPORT.