Nigel Greensall has stormed to pole position in the opening qualifying session of the 2013 MSA British Endurance Championship.
The Millard/Greensall/Le Blanc Rapier SR2 had been on the pace throughout qualifying, but it was in the final fifteen minutes that Greensall started to show the car’s outright pace. Until that point, the Class 1 Neil Garner Motorsport Mosler and the Horsepower Racing Aston Martin had been fighting over the top spot.
In the end, the Rapier driver set a time of 1:04.692 which was just 0.238 faster than the Mosler being driven by Javier Morcillo.
The Horsepower Racing Aston Martin being driven by Andy Schultz was 1.9s behind, however this was the first time the car had been driven in anger; the decision to race the brand-new car only taken on Thursday after Horsepower’s usual steed – the Ferrari 430 – had a terminal engine failure during testing. The car had a minor alternator problem during the session which resulted in some of the session being spent in the garage.
The session was punctuated by two red flags, both of them caused by the Class 2 works Chevron GR8 which found itself parked in the middle of the road on two occasions as a result of throttle problems.
In Class 2 it was the Loggie/Jones Team Parker Porsche 997 on pole position ahead of Tracktorque’s Fields/Hart Chevron GR8. Third in Class 2 was the BPM Renault Megane Trophy. With Jeff Smith at the wheel, the bright yellow machine found itself facing the wrong at Redgate towards the end of the session after the Pirtek BTCC driver lost control with cold rear tyres.
Class 3 saw Webb brothers Tom and James taking pole position in their BMW M3 GTR. Flick Haigh and Ryan Ratcliffe took second in their Fauldsport Ginetta G55, with the Jensen Motorsport Chevron GR8 in third.
Elsewhere in Class 3, the Ray Grimes/Anthony Reid Chevron required a gearbox change and didn’t compete in the session.
As soon as he had exited the car at the end of the session, pole-sitter Greensall was embarking on a journey up North, with a Fun Cup race at Oulton Park to compete in.
The Rapier SR2 with which he set pole had suffered reliability issues in 2012, but co-driver Karsten le Blanc is hopeful that the car will finish this afternoon’s 3-hour race: “The engine was re-built over the winter, so we hope to have more reliability this season,” he said. “But the car wasn’t running very well when it’s cold, and it is cold here today.
“Luckily after some frantic calls today we’ve made changes to the oil and water cooling which should have fixed the problem, so we should go well over three hours.
“When the car runs, it is amazing to drive and is very quick.”
The team believes the car is very kind on its tyres; the slicks the car had run on for qualifying had competed in a previous qualifying session, testing and a three-hour race.
The first BEC race of the season begins at 1640.