In qualifying for the second race of the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship Javier Morcillo took pole position by a little over half a second from the 45-minute session qualifying session.
Morcillo and the Neil Garner Motorsport/Strata 21 he shares with Manuel Cintrano and Paul White Mosler MT900 came to the fore in the second half of the session, Morcillo taking pole position, then extending his advantage in three successive laps of 1:06.903, 1:06.275 and finally 1:05.318 with thirteen minutes remaining.
Jumping from the bottom of the top five to pole position Morcillo initially led a tightly packed lead quartet. The Ian Heward/Mike Millard Rapier SR2 was second, the orange works Ginetta third and the Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz Ferrari fourth fastest all covered by a little over two tenths.
“I was almost dead flat downhill through the Craner Curves,” Morcillo said. “I'm not very proud of not making it totally flat for once but apart from that I'm very happy. I didn't think we would get pole position. Andy did a fantastic time – I do not think there are many Ferrari's faster than that around Donington, it's not a place for the Ferrari. I wasn't expecting it to be the Ferrari, I was expecting the Ginetta to be really fast – that's a fantastic car.”
Morcillo's rapid improvement cleaved a gulf in the top four. His full advantage remaining intact until the no.17 Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 improved to 1:06.395. Also late improvers were the works Ginetta, slotting into fourth to form an all Ginetta second row. Andy Schulz moved the black SB Race Engineering Ferrari into second on the final lap, just a half second off the pace of the Mosler.
“We we're a bit green going into it which meant we had to bed in tyres and brakes which is a pain, but I had a bit of a spin,” Schulz told The Checkered Flag. “I got it hot again and we're working, but when you get to that limit, that pace it's not quite right – it's got a bit of understeer on it. There isn't a lot more in the car in these cold conditions. I tried really hard at the end and I baulked a little bit, but I don't think there was much more it in, maybe a tenth of two but not to take pole, not today.”
The Millard/Heward Rapier will line up fifth, the duo losing the opeing minutes of the session after Heward, just out of the pits, spun into the gravel at Redgate, having to be towed out before they could continue the session. Still, they – along with the four cars ahead of the them – all held provisional pole position at some point during the session.
Late laps decided the three other classes. The Owen O'Neill and Neil Huggins crewed no.35 Marcos Mantis jumped their Topcats Racing teammates with their penultimate lap in the session, taking sixth overall.
Bullrun's Lotus Evora, through Martin Byford, led Class Three, the former Touring Car driver praising the car's prowess on the brakes, in taking eighth overall in the car he shares with Richard Adams and David Green. Just three tenths, but three places, behind is the BMW M3 of the Webb family, the next Class Three car on the timesheet.
Britcar regulars Kevin Clarke and Wayne Gibson took Class Four pole in the Intersport M3 with another late lap from the Strata 21 run bright yellow Porsche 996 of Adam Sharpe, Tom Jones and Dave Pittard.
The Lotus Elise of Steve Guglielmi and Avon Tyres British GT Championship (and former Porsche Carrera Cup front runner) driver Michael Caine was among the early pace setters when Gugliemi started the session fresh tyres, but fell back to 16th overall and fourth in class four as times picked up later in the session, despite Caine taking his stint in the driving seat.
The three hour race offers several possibilities, including running into darkness in the closing stages. Question marks also remain over the weather, Morcillo suggesting that rain – and how the teams and drivers cope with it – will decide the race.
“I think it is going to be fun, dry and wet everything is going to happen I'm pretty sure. I think any of the first five or six cars can win this race because if you add up all the drivers' times we're all very, very even. I think it's going to be all about the wet and dry situation.”