Pirelli demonstrated impressive durability and race performance in its first true endurance test at the Silverstone 500, the venue for the second round of the 2021 British GT Championship season.

The three-hour race, which was held under grey skies and lower ambient temperatures than normal, was won by the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes combination of Hunter Abbott and Martin Kodric, ahead of the pair of Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracáns of Sandy Mitchell and Adam Balon, and Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski.

For the Silverstone 500 – in its 10th running this year – teams and drivers were largely left to their own devices as far as stint length was concerned, although the minimum and maximum drive time for each driver still had to be adhered to.

Because there were no defined pit windows, tyre strategy and the timing of pit-stops played a crucial role in determining the result of the race, with some teams running shorter, more tactical stints while others ran longer.

The tyres

After making his debut last year, the GT3 competitors will again use Pirelli’s P Zero DHE tyre: an evolution of the previous DHD2, with modifications designed to make it even more versatile for the wide variety of GT3 cars and drivers that use it.

The P Zero DHB will again equip the GT4 class cars this year, having replaced the outgoing DH at the start of 2020.

The Cinturato WH tyres remain in place for wet weather. All the tyres have been designed to work with a variety of car set-ups and drivers, delivering maximum performance 100% of the time.

Race: GT3

The top-tier class was a real game of cat and mouse, with the pole-sitting 2 Seas Motorsport duo of Kodric and Abbott leading the opening stint comfortably from the fellow Mercedes line-up of Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman. Kodric and Abbott, giving the team its first outing with Mercedes power, ceded the lead to the #63 Barwell Lamborghini in the second hour but emerged ahead following the final round of pit-stops, with Kodric at the wheel. The Croatian driver brought the car home some eight seconds clear of the defending champion Sandy Mitchell – partnering Adam Balon – who came out on top in a frenetic late-race battle with Lind.

Race: GT4

The action in the GT4 class was just as exciting, as experienced GT racer Darren Turner celebrated his first class outing with victory alongside championship debutant Matt Topham in the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4. Turner took over from Topham at the last driver-change pit-stop and reeled in polesitter Richard Williams – sharing with Sennan Fielding – in the Steller Motorsport Audi R8 GT4 in the closing stages to take the win.

Jonathan Wells, Pirelli UK motorsport manager: “As ever with a three-hour race, tyre preservation is a key factor for every team and driver: this weekend was no different. Although the ambient temperatures were a bit lower than what we would usually expect, tyre wear was relatively high throughout the race due to the high loads in the fast corners such as Copse and Stowe. Despite this, we noticed that the consistency of performance in each stint was impressive and we saw a number of fastest laps being recorded in each of the classes. Indeed, the fastest laps in this year’s race were a match for the lap records in both GT3 and GT4, set at last year’s race held in much more optimal temperatures in November. In GT3, the fastest lap was within three-tenths of a second of the record, while in GT4, the Aston Martin actually set a new record by six-hundredths of a second. This shows just how far the Pirelli tyres have come in such a relatively short period of time.”

2021 British GT Championship Calendar

Round 1: Brands Hatch GP, 22-23 May
Round 2: Silverstone 500, 26-27 June
Round 3: Donington Park GP, 10-11 July
Round 4: Spa-Francorchamps, 24-25 July
Round 5: Snetterton 300, 7-8 August
Round 6: Oulton Park, 11-12 September
Round 7: Donington Park GP, 16-17 October