John Gaw declared himself “very satisfied” after he scored pole position for the British Endurance Championship race at Snetterton, taking top spot away from Javier Morcillo late in the hour long qualifying session on the Norfolk track's '300' layout.
Gaw had been out first in the Scuderia Vittoria run Ferrari 458 and immediately moved into top spot. Over the course of seven flying laps of the track Gaw moved towards the 1:50 barrier, bringing the top time down from 1:53.5 early on to 1:52.195 by the time he handed the car over to Phil Dryburgh.
Phil took the car over when Gaw's time was over five seconds faster than anyone else had managed around the three mile track, but while Dryburgh lapped the track Morcillo was inching closer to the pole time. The Spaniard made a mark of intent with 1:53.180, hatcheting the Ferrari's advantage to under a second. The with just over half of the session remaining he moved to the top of the timing screens, nearly six tenths faster than the Ferrari had managed while Gaw could only look on from the garage.
Morcillo piled further pressure on the Ferrari duo, moving more than a second clear in pole position. Meanwhile Dryburgh had been struck with a left-rear puncture, tyre maker Dunlop pondering whether it was a repeat of the problems with the kerbing that arose the previous weekend at the BTCC event.
Limping back to the pits, heaving the car away from spinning out and saving the 458 from further damage. The tyres were replaced with a brand new set of Dunlops and the driver was replaced, Gaw back in the cockpit in a late effort to wrestle pole position back.
After an abortive single lap run, Gaw needed only three flying to extract the best from himself, the tyres and the car, a lap of 1:50.938 claiming the top spot back.
Responding to Gaw's late run Morcillo had returned to the track and 2011's qualifying specialist was left with only the bare minimum of laps to try and retake pole. However, the closest he could get was move to seventy-eight hundreths of a second with a final lap that had those assembled in the Scuderia Vittoria pits waiting after the checkered flag had fallen.
“The whole key was the traffic,” said Morcillo. “I didn't have a clear run on the first lap so I knew I had a little bit of traffic so I was expecting not to hit it and manage a good lap but I couldn't do it. I had one car during the lap, so it wasn't good enough.”
He continued, describing the problem of traffic around the newly extended track: “It depends on when you catch the car, it can be a big problem. Some of parts of the track it's easy to overtake, some you get can get stuck behind slower traffic. It's a bit a luck thing really. We tend to overtake two cars a lap so it's not as bad as Castle Combe where you overtake seven cars every lap, but if you're lucky with those two you can get a better lap.”
Behind the top two Calum Lockie and Paul White claimed third, fully two seconds off pole, with Spa winners Michael Millard and Ian Heward in fourth. Unsuprisingly the GT3 Racing Dodge Viper topped a small Class Two entry in fifth. Seventh went to Class Three invitation runners Oliver Bryant and Will Goff in their Porsche, who had their session limited to just six laps, opting for the cautious approach after what Bryant described as wheel bearing noise.
Production pole went to another of the invitation entrants, Gino Ussi finishing the session 13th overall with a lap of 2:01.153.
Topcats Racing men Mick Mercer and Gary Smith were the fastest of the championship production runner, a second and two overall places behind Ussi, ahead of the SEAT of Mark and Peter Cunningham, the father and son pairing recovering from an off in an earlier practice session, potentially caused by a leak in the power steering system.
Bullrun, back with their SEAT after fielding a Ferrari in the earlier rounds, topped the Production Class Two field easily. Paul Mitson, Mike Pascall and Paul Kite of JTECH Automotive beating serial winners James May and Alex Osborne into second in class.