It’s a scriptwriter’s dream: A record 38 full-season entries (the highest number in British GT’s 27-year history), seven GT3 manufacturers (five of which are releasing customer-models for the very first time), 13 British GT titles shared by the GT3 grid, oh, and did I mention the thunderous BMW M6?

GT racing has seen its fair share of ups and downs since the heady days of GT1 (with the McLaren F1 GTR, and 7-Litre Lister Storm), but in recent years, SRO, Stephane Ratel’s far-reaching race promotion and management organisation, has steadfastly set-about engaging professional teams and manufacturers, harmonising regulations and delivering formats that has not only given meaningful structure and stability to championships around the world, it has also attracted a new generation of racers to the grid.

‘Yes’, it still costs shed load of money to put yourself behind the wheel, but GT racing, once the domain of the wealthy enthusiast is now home to a new generation of young professionals who have steered away from single seaters to focus on building longer-lasting careers with some of the world’s top brands.

GT4, in particular, is booming as talented teens join with leading manufacturers to develop their potential in a showcase of true Gran Turismo: Wheel-to-wheel racing around our grandest circuits in cars that are built for racing but designed for the road. It may not be Formula One, but the racing’s far closer and just as glamorous. Rounds 1 & 2 kick the season off at Oulton Park next month, with the 9-round series concluding at Donington in September.

Here are some of our favourite images from last week’s media day.

    The pit lane bustled and buzzed. Cars and drivers paraded their coats of many colours before engines were fired into life; the smell of burned octane soon merging with the scent of glowing brakes and locked-up rubber. The Pro-drivers in GT3 are amongst the finest in the world. Often so closely matched, it is their ‘Am’ partners who mostly make the difference between victory and retirement. Ben Green was a worthy ‘Silver’ winner in GT4 last year. For 2019, he’s been elevated to the M6, partnering Dominic Paul, a man who is new to British GT but who is more than capable of proving that he’s the fastest ‘gentleman’ driver on the grid.

    Phil Keen has been the GT3 runner-up for each of the last three seasons. This year he has a new partner (GT4 race-winner Adam Balon) and a renewed zest for success. They say that times don’t matter on Media Day: Trust me, they do, and Keen was… keen to bring the Barwell Huracan home in P1. The BMW M6 is new to British GT. The challenge of taking-on Aston Martin’s Vantage, the Bentleys, the Lamborghinis and the exceptional McLaren 720S cannot be understated, yet the Bavarian brand’s self- belief and trust in its partner-teams has energised Nathan Freke’s Century Motorsport squad to produce two stunning cars that might just upset AMR’s plans.

    It’s not just the GT3 cars that are set to thrill. 2019 sees 23 GT4 entries, representing eight manufacturers. Nick Jones and Scott Malvern return to defend their Pro-Am crown, whilst championship-winning teams, HHC and Century are both set to stake claims on yet more podium successes.

    Porsche is back! In GT3, GTC and GT4! Former GT Cup champion Adam Wilcox is back in GTC, whilst former Carrera Cup GB front-runner, Dino Zamparelli teams-up with Chris Car in the GT Marques Cayman.

    New for 2019 are the latest incarnations of GT supercars from Aston Martin. The Vantage GT3 has an unrivalled record in British GT. Introduced in 2012, it raced for seven seasons and won four championships, the first of these belonging to Beechdean’s Andrew Howard in 2013. Six years-on and Howard / Beechdean return with the first of the new generation of Vantages. Powered by a race-modified version of the 4-litre V8 twin-turbo, four of these GT3 variants are expected to line-up at Oulton Park for 2019’s opening rounds, and this year, Howard will be joined by former WEC GTE Champion, Marco Sørensen. Switching to the Beechdean stable is the GT4 entry of Kelvin Fletcher & Martin Plowman; a pairing that just keeps getting stronger and stronger and who are likely to emerge as serious podium contenders with the advantage of Aston Martin power behind them.

    The Invictus Games Racing squad return with a single Jaguar F-Type but a hard season’s experience behind them, which can only propel the ‘worthy’ to worthy.

    Two more great additions to the GT4 grid are the Ford Mustangs of Scott Maxwell & Seb Priaulx, and former BTCC stars Sam Smelt & Árón Taylor-Smith. Both cars have the potential to shine, and both are going to find themselves deep in the thick of the action.

    It might have only been a test day but try telling that to those with a point to prove. As the day drew-on, the battles intensified and the lines firmly drawn for Oulton Park’s opening rounds.

    Mercedes AMG have two GT3 entries and two GT4 entries. Here are the two GT3 cars, lighting-up the track in their own particular way.

    It wasn’t only the GT cars that were showcasing their talent at Donington; the BRDC’s British Formula Three’s rising stars were also out in force. Kiern Jewiss hasn’t yet matched the pace of Johnathan Hoggard but British F4’s champion is rapidly driving his way to a glittering future. And in the great tradition of Formula Three, they were joined by a bevy of the finest talent from all corners of the world, including Sweden’s former kart champion, Lucas Petersson, newly-signed to Carlin and sporting the finest retro-styled helmet we’ve seen for a long time.

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Images: Steve Hindle (The Black Stuff) and Howard Fielding (PhotoWod UK).