Optiumum Osborne Ahead Of Title Battle In Donington Qualifying


Osborne's late lap gave him pole by nearly half a second (Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Joe Osborne repeated his second practice form giving he and co-driver Lee Mowle pole position for tomorrow’s two-hour crescendo to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

In the #8 888Optimum Racing BMW Z4 GT3 Osborne was briefly fastest in the first part of the session but he had to wait until the final five minutes of the half hour session to stake a real claim to pole position as he lapped the Donington Park GP circuit in 1:28.289 to move into provisional pole by nearly half a second over Oliver Bryant in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW he shares with fellow title contender Marco Attard.

Osborne’s 0.477 second margin over the BMW was chipped into by Richard Westbrook improving late in the tartan liveried #32 Trackspeed Porsche. Westbrook went third, then improved to 1:28.739 the following lap to move into the gap in time between the two Z4s. Bryant and Attard remained the best placed of the six team in contention for the GT3 title.

Nick Tandy, who held provisional pole for a few seconds with eight minutes to go, ended the session fifth fastest in the #31 Trackspeed Porsche with the Beechdean Aston of points leader Andrew Howard and Audi of United Autosports’ title outsiders Matt Bell and Mark Patterson sixth and seventh.

In the sister 888Optimum entry to that which will start from pole Dan Brown and Steve Tandy will start their final title challenge from 12th while Oman Air Motorbase struggled for pace, finishing a lowly 18th fastest in the session.

Rob Barff placed the FF Corse Ferrari fourth fastest between Ecurie Ecosse BMW and Tandy’s Porsche. The Demon Tweeks backed #33 Porsche, #13 AF Corse Ferrari and Team LNT Ginetta G55 GT3 completed the top ten.

Like both practice sessions earlier in the day the session was briefly halted by a red flag. Less than ten minutes into the session Piers Johnson spun the #78 Barwell Motorsport/Ecurie Ecosse BMW out of the final corner, hitting the wall just before the entry. The car was recovered, allowing the session to restart, but the impact ended their session.

Mtech’s Ginetta G55 was out of contention shortly afterwards, Derek Johnston reporting contact with a Ferrari on track once he climbed out of a #42 car missing a chunk of the front-left bodywork. The session ended not with a final stream of improvements but with a convoy into the pitlane, any chance of late improvements ended by Declan Jones stopping a smoky Century Motorsport Ginetta G50 GT4 at Schwantz Curve.

Bradley Ellis gave British GT debutants Twisted Team Parker GT pole (Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)
Bradley Ellis gave British GT debutants Twisted Team Parker GT pole (Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Jones’ title rivals Optimum Motorsport were only second fastest but the team of Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jr will start as the best of the GT4 teams eligible to score points in the class. Class pole position instead went to series debutants Twisted Team Parker and Bradley Ellis.

The final race of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship is scheduled to start at 1:15pm tomorrow (October 5). www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have live blog coverage of the race which will also be broadcast on MotorsTV.