In his first competitive outing in the new GT3 Aston Martin Vantage he shares with Mark Poole Richard Abra secured pole for the Britcar MSA British Endurance Championship (BEC) finale at Donington Park.
Having only received the new car last month Abra and Poole’s entry into the top class of the championship was a late one, stepping up from the BMW M3 that took victory at the Britcar 24 Hours in September and while the result of the session was a perfect start for the partnership in the new car their route to pole position was far from straight forward.
Rain earlier in the morning had left the track wet, and though it dried steadily through the session it still presented the team with the first wet running in the Barwell Motorsport prepared Aston. The step into the unknown was further complicated by the car running without the traction control system.
Despite this, after Poole had turned the initial stint in the car, Abra moved the black and red car onto the pole position, completing a lap of Donington’s National circuit in 1:16.025, eclipsing the previous best, set by title hopeful Javier Morcillo in the Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler.
The Anglo-Spanish line up, Morcillo joined by countryman Manuel Cintrano and Paul White, face an uphill struggle to take the championship lead from the Class Three Bullrun Lotus Evora, facing the strongest opposition for the overall win they have all year.
As well as Poole and Abra debuting the Aston Martin the BEC champions from both 2011 and 2010 have returned for the four hour into the night race, slotting into class one, though not eligible for points.
Aaron Scott and Craig Wilkins, champions last year were ninth fastest in the GT3 Racing Dodge Viper, 2010 champions MJC Ltd fourth fastest in their Ferrari 430 GTC, though driver John Gaw twice spun the car while on a lap that would have moved the car higher up the order. Instead they will share the second row of the grid with the similar car of Paul Bailey and Andy Schulz.
MacG Racing’s Ultima GTR, driven by Jonny MacGregor and Kyle Tilley will share the third row with the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 with Bullrun – Martin Byford, David Green and Richard Adams – starting seventh, leading Class Three over the invitation Team Parker Racing Porsche.
Another team of seasonal debutants – Flick Haigh and Ryan Ratcliffe for Fauldsport – topped Class Four ahead of champions elect Adam Sharpe and David Pittard for Strata 21.
On their way to racing in the Dubai 24 Hours in January the four latest Nissan GT Academy winners negotiated the slippery conditions in their pair of Nissan 370Z.
Wolfgang Reip – winner of the European competition – Mark Schulzhitskiy – winner of the Russian version were 14th fastest, American victor Dan Mitchell and German champion Peter Pyzera, 16th quickest in the 17 car field for the race.