IAIN ROBERTSON 

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The British specialist sportscar scene used to be vibrant, states Iain Robertson, but a combination of EU rules, Construction & Use legislation and the relative disappearance of the ‘kit car’ market cut it to shreds, with some notable exceptions.

Post-WW2 Britain presented a host of opportunities to entrepreneurial carmakers. Of course, many of them had to wait for rationing to end and for the economy to recover but, around 65 years ago, seeds were sown and a rich harvest resulted, from which, sadly, only a few brands managed to survive, including Lotus and Ginetta.

While Lotus has experienced countless problems, its salvation following the death of founder Colin Chapman, came in the form of its major European distributor, Romano Artioli, who was responsible for resurrecting the Bugatti marque (now licensed to VW Group). Artioli brokered a 1990 takeover deal with Malaysian manufacturer Proton but, following a period of quite ludicrous mismanagement, Lotus was rescued again by the Chinese Geely Corporation, from which it is receiving generous R&D funding, to secure its future.Ginetta-Academy-3

Ginetta’s story is not dissimilar. During its first heyday, under the governance of the four Walklett brothers, its G4, G10, G12 and other road cars were well-designed, much-loved and good sellers in a constantly changing new car market. Ginetta’s saviour arrived in the form of Leeds-based entrepreneur and racing driver, Lawrence Tomlinson, in 2005. He pursued a markedly different route to market, following a model established by Caterham Cars, directly to the motor racing scene. In fact, Ginetta has now earned its reputation as a producer of highly competent sports racing cars, nurturing young drivers at one end of the scale, providing a development formula in the middle of its operation, with its prototype LMP1 car at the top end.

Having enjoyed the full glare of televised publicity (ITV4) as a pair of racing formulae within the TOCA package (the main driver of which is the exceptionally popular British Touring Car Championship), both Ginetta Juniors and the Ginetta Academy series have provided a proving ground for racing talent. The cars are tough, resilient and surprisingly cost-effective to operate in an highly competitive environment, while remaining tangibly affordable and great fun, not just to drive but also to view. In fact, current McLaren F1 contracted driver, Lando Morris, is a graduate of the Ginetta Academy.

For the past sixty years, Ginetta has helped drivers to focus on a route to international motorsport and its current racing ladder is recognised globally as one of the best manufacturer-run championships. Despite the upset to the racing season caused by the international pandemic, Ginetta is now turning its attention to aspiring drivers of all ages, with its brand new GT Academy car, urging them to sign up and be on the grid for the 2021 season.Ginetta-Academy-2

Derived from one of the most successful GT4 chasses, the new Ginetta GT Academy car delivers everything that a driver needs to experience the speed, potency and exhilaration of GT category racing. The DNA of the car stems from 24-hour race winners, built to nullify fading performance, while guaranteeing endurance.

Its tuned, US Ford-derived 3.7-litre V6, aluminium alloy engine (used in the Mustang and other models) and excellent chassis balance inspires an essential blend of confidence and grip in every corner, lap after lap delivering the best experience consistently for a driver looking to sharpen skills, while not compromising on safety, or equipment. The engine features dry-sump lubrication and drives through a six-speed Quaife helical gearbox (complete with paddle-shift and throttle blip), developing around 400bhp, with 405lbs ft of torque. It is light and sturdy enough to provide blistering acceleration and a top speed (dependent on overall gearing, which can be altered to suit specific circuit/driver demands) in excess of 150mph.

Running on 98RON pump fuel (which helps to keep costs down) contained within an ATL 60-litre fuel cell (for safety), both suspension and brakes are race-bred, while its 20.0-inch diameter light alloy wheels are clad in Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres (again, to maintain cost-efficiency). Costing from £62,500, the GT Academy is the perfect entry level and easy to operate GT track car. It provides exceptional dry weather grip and uncompromising performance that is both rewarding for drivers and challenging enough for them to master.Ginetta-Academy-1

Interestingly, Ginetta is also offering an optional race series for individuals ready to commit from track day enthusiast to entry-level GT racer status. Ginetta championships are renowned for being an ideal proven route to top-flight motorsport, which delivers thrilling wheel-to-wheel racing on some of the UK’s best-known racing circuits but also boasts some of the most talented drivers racing in same-specification cars.

In 2021, drivers of all experience levels can compete in the GT Academy, where the field is split between experienced racers and a ‘Rookie’ class. This new series replaces the Ginetta Race Driving Championship as the entry point to Ginetta racing and will help to reinforce the ladder that includes the G40 Cup, GT5 Challenge and the SuperCup.

The Rookie Series Package is the perfect platform for drivers wishing to make a racing debut in a welcoming, competitive and cost-effective environment. At the heart of the Ginetta offer is a true ‘arrive and drive’ GT race package, with everything covered for a track, test, or race day, encompassing driver development, technical support, car transportation and even storage. Fuel and tyres are also included in the package. It covers all of the support a novice driver needs to maximise the racing experience, taking away the time and hassle involved with running a race car and delivering a premium feel and problem-free experience.Ginetta-Academy-5

Drivers are able to grow in confidence through the support of the exclusive Ginetta driver development programme, where access to simulators, fitness facilities, track testing and an advanced driving course, designed by in-house LMP1 driver Mike Simpson, are all available. The company is also offering budding racers a route to enter premium race weekends on the British GT calendar. To join Ginetta on the GT Academy Grid for 2021, or to find out more about the car, the series and finance options, you are invited to contact Sam Tomlinson: sam.tomlinson@ginetta.com, or 07976 397 536.

Conclusion:       Motor racing remains a most beguiling proposition for many people and the sheer affordability of the Ginetta proposition is one supported wholeheartedly and enthusiastically by the company. If you want a go, you now know how!