Minshaw and Keen Battle to Brands Hatch Pole


Keen and Minshaw boosted their title hopes with Pole. (Credit: Nick Smith/TheImageTeam.com)

Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen boosted their title chances after easing to Brands Hatch pole in GT3, whilst Academy Motorsport‘s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones claimed top spot in GT4.

Treacherous conditions played host to British GT qualifying, adding an extra layer of intrigue as GT3 AM drivers peeled onto the GP course for the opening 10 minute session.

An emphatic effort from championship leader Minshaw saw the #33 Lamborghini power to the top of the early standings, over six tenths faster than Richard Neary‘s #88 Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes AMG GT3.

The top two were split seconds later, James Littlejohn firing the #24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin to half a second behind Minshaw’s sensational pole time.

On the next circuit of the GP layout however, Littlejohn improved again, brilliantly powering to provisional pole by 1.6 seconds ahead of Minshaw, with the lead gap whittled down to 1.3 seconds as Mark Farmer shot his TF Sport Aston Martin into second.

Soon after being shuffled off the front row, Minshaw made amends, storming the Lamborghini back on top and to provisional  pole, seven tenths faster than Littlejohn’s best effort. The Macmillan AMR driver soon found himself sandwiched between Barwell Lamborghinis, with the #6 car of Liam Griffin claiming third – whilst Minshaw’s title rival Rick Parfitt Jnr could only manage a disappointing 6th.

The second 10 minute session to confirm the order for the two-hour Brands Hatch event saw Keen cement Minshaw’s fastest time straight away, 1.1 seconds ahead of Jon Barnes‘ TF Sport Aston Martin.

A practice crash at Hawthorns for Callum Macleod was compounded by the Spa winner skating off the road at Paddock Hill Bend in the perilous conditions, before luckily escaping the clutches of the gravel trap.

Jack Mitchell charged the #24 Aston Martin onto the front row, but he and partner Littlejohn could only come within 2.7 seconds of Minshaw and Keen’s combined time, as the #33 Lamborghini claimed a dominanting top spot.

In ever-drying conditions, the GT4 title leading #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 emerged from the pitlane first for the opening GT4 qualifying title session, initially firing to a half second advantage ahead of the #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S of Sandy Mitchell.

The much anticipated title duel between HHC Motorsport and Lanan Racing took another twist, with David Pittard charging the #51 Ginetta to provisional pole, only for both to be beaten to top spot by Mitchell’s McLaren.

An impressive effort from the #43 Century Motorsport Ginetta of Niall Murray clambered into second, two tenths back of the Scotsman Mitchell’s benchmark.

A crucial error from Pittard ended the Lanan Racing Ginetta’s challenge, clattering into the gravel at Stirlings to spark a race against time for Pittard’s stricken machine to receive assistance back to the pitlane before the end of the final GT4 session.

With seconds remaining, Mitchell’s time was toppled by Irishman Murray, surging the Century Motorsport outfit to provisional pole by 0.344 seconds.

The second and final GT4 session began with Century Motorsport eager to defend an unlikely provisional pole, with teammate Mike Simpson‘s #111 Ginetta proving a rival early on, setting the preliminary fastest session time. Will Tregurtha soon fired HHC Motorsport to top spot, one second ahead of the #72 Track-Club McLaren 570S of Adam Balon.

Both the invitational Toyota GT86 and the #62 Academy Motorsport boldly opted for slick tyres on the still-drying surface, and the gamble paid off almost immediately – Nicoll-Jones battling to the front. Nicoll-Jones was immediately shuffled off pole by the #43 Ginetta of Jacob Mathiassen, the Dane impressively complimenting Murray’s initial lap time.

The dry tyre pace sparked a mad dash in the pitlane, with Ciaran Haggerty claiming provisional pole in the #100 McLaren, only to be deposed again by Nicoll-Jones in a pulsating duel for first in class.

An unlikely comeback for the previously gravel-stricken title-contending #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta saw Alex Reed reignite the team’s championship chances, battling a damaged car to fourth in standings and ahead of fierce championship adversary Will Tregurtha‘s #55 Ginetta.

Nicoll-Jones tenaciously held on to seal a first pole of the season in GT4 alongside teammate Moore, with Mitchell and Haggerty joining the pairing on the front row.

Only the non-scoring #86 GPRM Toyota GT86 invitational entry separated Lanan Racing and HHC Motorsports, who line up 4th and 6th respectively.

Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones charged to a maiden GT4 pole. (Credit: Nick Smith/TheImageTeam.com)