The Aquila CR1 – in its standard yellow livery – put in a typically dominant performance in the qualifying session for the 2011 Britcar 24 Hours by setting the pace nearly five seconds clear of their nearest challenger.
The Danish 'mini LMP' and the former A1GP and Superleague Formula racer John Martin racer needed only four laps around the Silverstone GP circuit to turn a stunning time of 2:03.560.
The hour and 15 minute session not only sets the grid, but qualifies the individual drivers for the race and so, with Martin's three flying laps completed the Aquila squad cycled through their remaining three drivers – Bob Berridge, Gareth Evans and Nigel Mustill secure in pole position.
Martin told The Checkered Flag; “it's obviously nowhere near as quick as anything I've driven before so you sort of hop straight in and you can go pretty quickly straight away, it's not like you need to catch up to how fast it will go. It's just a matter of feeling on how much grip the car's got and what changes to make to make the car go fast.”
“It's obviously quite different,” Martin added, comparing the Aquila with his previous experience. “It's quite soft. It's nowhere near as stiff as an open wheeler and doesn't really respond like one either. It's the first time I've ever really driven anything like this so I'm feeling my way just a little bit. It's good fun, it's really nice to drive. It's a very forgiving car, it doesn't snap or anything. It sends you a postcard that it's going to slide. It's really good fun.”
Such is the pace of the car – which also dominated qualifying for last year's 24 Hours – that the second fastest time of the session also went to the team.
For much of the session the second fastest time was the 2:07.372 set by the ARC Bratislava run Porsche 997 – which boasts Porsche Supercup star Sean Edwards among its drivers after a late addition.
However, as the session drew to a close Britcar regulars MJC and Eclipse put their fastest men in their similar Ferrari 430 and ended the session with the second and third fastest times. Sean – the younger of the father and son McInerney duo – initially went second fastest before John Gaw slotted the no.1 Ferrari of defending winners MJC into second (2:08.495).
Javier Morcillo put The Strata 21 Mosler he shares with Britcar regulars, Manuel Cintrano, Paul White and Calum Lockie set the third fastest time to split the two Ferraris late on after they had struggled in the early part of the session with a myriad of engine related gremlins.
ARC Bratislava topped Class Two in fifth, with the RJN Motorsports Nissan 370z in seventh. The star-filled works run Ginetta G55 completed the top ten, third in Class Two, and one place behind the German run BMW Z4 V8.
Optimum Racing's Ginetta G50 led Class Three by nine-tenths of a second, thanks to Joe Osborne, over the Japanese crewed Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis.
Coxs Dave, Michael and Jason together with Paul Stubber comprehensively bossed Class Four in the BMW M3 CSL by three seconds in 29 overall. The CTR Developments Lotus Elise was the next best car in class in 36th place.
Scuderia Vittoria's Ginetta G50 – which underwent an engine change after their British GT outing at Donington Park last weekend – failed to take any part in the session due to engine problems that Piers Masarati's team are working to fix before the night qualifying session beginning at 8pm.