2016 BTCC runner-up Sam Tordoff will switch his attention to sportscars next season after being announced alongside Liam Griffin in the second of Barwell Motorsport’s British GT-entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3s.
The news comes just one week after Barwell confirmed this year’s British GT runners-up, Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, would be returning for a third year with the team.
Tordoff’s future has been the subject of much speculation since the end of this year’s tin-top campaign after the 27-year-old confirmed he would not be returning to the BTCC in 2017. That decision has led him to the British GT Championship where he will make his GT3 debut under the GardX racing with Barwell Motorsport banner.
The Yorkshireman won races at every level of the TOCA package, including Porsche Carrera Cup GB and the Renault Clio Cup. He also made selected sportscar appearances in 2015, albeit in the European Le Mans Series aboard Ferrari GTE machinery.
Tordoff confirmed that a full-time sportscar switch had been on his radar for some time and that the opportunity to partner Griffin at Barwell was just too good to miss.
“I am really excited about 2017 as I embark on a new career in GT racing,” he said. “It is something we have looked at pursuing for a while, and when this opportunity presented itself with Liam and Barwell Motorsport it was the perfect time to jump ship.
“I’ve known Liam for a long time and I think together in the Lamborghini we have all the tools in place to mount a serious title challenge. The British GT Championship is going from strength to strength and I am very aware of the expectations of the team to be at the sharp end of it – I cannot wait to get started!”
Fellow ex-BTCC racer Griffin has earned a reputation as one of British GT’s fastest Am drivers since moving from touring cars to GTs in 2014. A race winner in each of his last two seasons, most recently alongside Adam Carroll at Oulton Park, he’s hoping a second year in the Huracan allied to Tordoff’s talents will tip the title balance in his favour.
“I’m really pleased to be back in British GT for 2017 and with a new team-mate that might raise a few eyebrows!” he said. “Sam had a great year in BTCC being both quick and consistent, attributes that are well suited to GT racing and ones that I hope rub off on me, to allow us to compete at the sharp end of the championship.
“I think that BGT is going to be incredibly competitive this year with any one of the current entries capable of winning a race. Consequently every second will count and I am hoping that another year with the Lamborghini, for both me and the team, will give us that extra bit of pace to finally topple those pesky Astons!”
Barwell chief Mark Lemmer echoed Griffin’s sentiments, but also highlighted that the stability of a full-season pairing would prove invaluable after Griffin was joined by Carroll, Alexander Sims and Fabio Babini at various points during 2016.
“Sam has emerged as one of the UK’s most talented and successful star drivers; he has all of the ingredients that we would look for to make a top quality GT driver,” he said. “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome him to the ‘Barwell family’ for his first full season in GTs to partner Liam.
“It’s great to welcome Liam back; I’ve got a really positive feeling about this pairing. We know that Liam is naturally super quick and can beat anyone on his day. I am sure he will benefit from Sam’s meticulous preparation and from it being his second season in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
“I think sharing with three different Pros last season wasn’t, in hindsight, the best situation for Liam, but having Sam as a full season team-mate should take Liam’s performance to another level.”
Tordoff will sample his first taste of Barwell’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 at Barcelona next March before further testing takes place in the UK. The 2017 season - British GT’s 25th - gets underway at Oulton Park on April 15 & 17.