Andy Schulz took advantage of the best of conditions early in the 40 minutes qualifying session for the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC) on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix track.
Schulz, sharing the SB Race Engineering run Ferrari 430 with Paul Bailey, went out first under leaden skies and quickly took pole position after the initial flying laps had been completed. After taking pole from Richard Green’s Bullrun Lotus Evora with a lap of 1:30.380 Schulz brought the target time for the rest of the near 30 car field down to 1:27.7 as the track dried out.
Schulz's best time (1:27.442) came on his tenth and final flying lap before pitting for Paul Bailey to take over the black car. In the opening part of the session Schulz's clostest opposition cane from the Class Two and Three cars. After Green's early pace in the Oulton Park winning Lotus had been checked – star driver Martin Byford unable to find much improvement from the car as they fell down the order as others improved.
Class rivals Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings moved into second place in their own Ferrari, theirs run by FF Corse, with Tommy Field close behind in the diminutive Track Torque Chevron GR8. A late improvement from the Bullrun men would move them back into second in class, beating the Chevron, but still trailing the Ferrari's time (1:31.313) by just a hundredth of a second.
While Schulz had started the Ferrari both the other Class One teams had opted to run their slower drivers first – Manuel Cintrano in the Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler, Nigel Mustill in the ex-United Autosports Audi R8 LMS, making its first competitive start – and as the swapped places with their teammates the conditions began to deteriorate.
Morcillo, in for Cintrano, explained; “as soon as I went out there were yellow flag in three corners so I waited and waited and then when the yellows flag went it start to drizzle so I knew I had about two laps until it was too bad and then someone broke an engine or something and there was oil in one corner.”
Despite the increasingly tricky conditions – with several yellow flags as oil on track further complicating the task for Javier Morcillo and John Martin in chasing down Schulz's marker – both men made improvements. Martin, the Australian in his first race in GT car, moved the Audi onto the outside of the second row – sharing it with Owen O'Neill and Danny Winstanley's Topcats Racing Marcos Mantis.
Morcillo, with a succession of best sector times through the early part of the lap moved up to second place, but still more than a second and a half down on Schulz's early time. Even more worryingly for Morcillo and company Schulz believes there was a better time possible from the Ferrari had it not been for understeer and traffic problems.
“In certain areas the cornering speeds, especially out the back, there's a big difference between some of the cars,” Schulz told The Checkered Flag. “They're coming in and they're committed to their speeds and I'm in and going a hell of a lot faster and wait and you can see your time just dropping. With our aero it works really nicely but you have to just abort that lap.”
“There were a couple of quicker laps in there, but they were just baulked by traffic and it's really difficult to get past round the back. We're still trying to work on the handling, we've got a lot of understeer through Druids especially and Paddock Hill as well. We'll keep working away at it and we'll get the times.”
With four classes on track, the only class leader outside of the top five was the Class Four polesitter, Joe Osborne taking the top spot in the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G50, beating a gaggle of extra entries into the class for the weekend including Britcar Production Cup front-runners Adam Hayes and Mark Radcliffe in a second Intersport BMW and Mark and Peter Cunningham in their race winning Seat Leon Supercopa.