Michael Guasch and Tim Bridgman claimed the pole positions for the two Avon Tyres British GT Championship races at Rockingham, Guasch's session one feat securing United Autosport‘s pole position.
“It's a team effort, whatever it takes,” Guasch told The Checkered Flag. “I'm just excited to get it, we got our first win at Snetterton and that was great now let's see if we can pull off the finish tomorrow what really matters is tomorrow but it was nice to know and see that we had good pace. I felt like my pace was solid – I had a lot of low 20s even though I knocked that 19 out and got the pole. We went to Donington on Thursday and practiced and that was a big part of it. I haven't been in the car for two months so when I come to race and practice there's not enough time to acclimate.”
Guasch, who leads the championship by just two points with co-driver Matt Bell set the pole time at the half way point of the 15 minutes session driving his Audi R8 LMs around the 1.94 mile track in 1:19.750, taking pole away from Trackspeed driver Gregor Fisken.
With the condition of the tyres crucial for the start of the races most teams opted to end their sessions early. After Guasch topped the times on Michael Lyons in the Scuderia Vittoria Ferrari 458 improved – the Oulton Park winner slotting into second place.
Fisken brought the no.2 Porsche in with six minutes remaining, teammate David Ashburn and Lyons following in a minute later, allowing the team to start the transition to the second session with the other driver in the cockpit.
Tim Bridgman had taken Fisken’s place in the no.2 Porsche, both of the white and green Porsches running a pre-meditated program of only running three laps before coming in.
As luck would have it Bridgman only needed a single flying lap to lodge the Porsche on pole position in what he described as their first trouble free qualifying of the season. A lap of 1:18.494 was more than half a second faster than his nearest challenger – Alex Mortimer one of a pair of newly liveried CRS Racing Ferraris.
“We had a plan,” said Bridgman after the session. “The team's plan for both cars was a three lap run whether you get it right or wrong you get three laps we were going to box regardless. Obviously it's hard waiting to see if anyone beats your time but I had a cracking first lap and that was all I needed and it's really good to have low mileage on the tyres for tomorrow because that's really important for us.”
Although the Audi is ill-suited to the short qualifying sessions, being too light on its tyres, Matt Bell was following his teammate in chasing – trying to emulate his teammate – moved ahead of Mortimer into second, but still more than three tenths away from Bridgman who ended his session with seven minutes still left to run. Mortimer will start from third, co-driver Andrew Tate put the car tenth fastest during the earlier session.
Just as in the first session late improvement was a rare commodity. John Bintcliffe moved the second United Autosports Audi into eighth but a final blast from Phil Keen in the no.1 Porsche failed to move him up from fifth on the grid.
The car will start the first race from fourth – on an all Porsche second row – with the Jones brothers' Mercedes and the MTECH Ferrari on the third row. The Ferrari of Glynn and Jim Geddie will start both races from seventh.
For the second race they will start behind the Ferrari 430 Scuderia, put sixth fastest by Allan Simonsen, the Porsche of Keen and Ashburn and the MTECH Ferrari, Matt Griffin driving the car to fourth in the second session.
GT4 class pole for both races went to Scuderia Vittoria's Ginetta G50. Dan Denis went out in the first session, securing pole by three tenths over the best of the Lotus Evoras. David MacDonald went six tenths faster, with a time of 1:24.288, but beat the best of Lotus – that driven by Phil Glew and Ollie Jackson by just 0.101 seconds.
Class points leaders Marcus Clutton and Peter Belshaw will start from fifth and fourth in class for the two races.