Qualifying: Minshaw and Keen Dominate GT3 whilst Moore and Nicoll-Jones take Advantage in GT4
The #33 Barwell Motorsport sponsored by Demon Tweaks Lamborghini Huracan dominated the GT3 grid, taking a crucial pole position in their battle for the championship. GT4 threw up an intense fight for the front row as the drivers were faced with a drying track. It became a session of tyre choice that saw #62 Academy Motorsport clinch pole position in class.
It had looked like the weather was going to play havoc with the British GT qualifying session, as just before the session started there was a heavy downpour. However, the rain stopped just before the first of four green flags and became a session of who could optimise the drying conditions best. First out was the GT3 class, with the Am drivers on board. It was a wet track for the Am drivers meaning that wet weather tyres were fitted to the cars, making the average lap time slower than had been displayed in the practice sessions.
Jon Minshaw set the bar with a 1:38.310, 0.718 seconds up on second-placed James Littlejohn in the #24 Macmillan AMR. Demon Tweak’s championship rivals could only put the car sixth on the grid with Rick Parfitt Jr in the cockpit. This left the job to Seb Morris to close the gap and make sure the race was on from the green flag to keep the championship going to the last round at Donnington Park. However, Phil Keen was a man on a mission, and nothing could stop him from taking a competitive pole position for the GT3 class. Working off the back of Minshaw’s performance, Keen set the fastest lap of the session on a drying track, a 1:34.946. He was the only driver to get into the 1m34s in the session, with the next fastest lap time set by Adam Christodoulou who put the #88 Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 fifth fastest. Morris could do no better than sixth on the grid and will start with #24 Macmillan AMR, #11 TF Sport, #6 Barwell Motorsport and #88 Team ABBA between him and championship-leaders #33 Demon Tweaks.
The #59 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570 GT4 did not take part in qualifying as there was damage on the car that the team could not fix before the start of the session. The team believe that the car suffered the damage from debris picked up on track from an incident it was not involved in. The only other car that did not set a time in the GT4 qualifying was the #501 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport. This was due to a misfire as the car rolled out of the garage. Graham Johnson managed to complete an installation lap before the car was parked for further investigation. The still-drying track caught some of the drivers out on track. Notably, the #51 Lanan Racing ended up facing the wrong way in the gravel track at Hawthorns and brought out the double yellow flags. This meant that no track improves could come in the last few minutes of the session, putting Niall Murray on provisional pole position in the #43 Century Motorsport ahead of the #100 Black Bull Garage 59. It was in the final ten minutes of qualifying that tyre choice became important.
The #86 GPRM and the #62 Academy Motorsport took a risk off the bat in the final session, going straight out on the slick tyres. It was initially called as a mistake and a big risk, but it soon became clear that the two teams were on the optimum tyre. Advantage was in their hands as most of the grid headed back into the garage to change tyre compounds. Matt Nicoll-Jones made the best of the dry weather tyres, putting the #62 on pole position for the GT4 class with a 1:36.208, giving the team a combined fastest time of 3:20.773. Provisional pole sitters in the #100 Black Bull McLaren will take the second spot on the grid, ahead of the #43 Century Motorsport. The #51 managed to recover after being stuck in the gravel and finish the session fourth fastest. This bodes well for the Lanan Racing team as the current GT4 championship leaders, #55 HHC Motorsport, starts behind them for tomorrow’s race in sixth. David Pittard and Alex Reed will be hoping to keep William Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton behind them during the two-hour race to take the championship down to the wire at Donington Park.