Trackspeed and United Autosports shared qualifying honours after the twin 15 minutes qualifying sessions for Monday's Avon Tyres British GT Championship races at Oulton Park.
Charles Bateman – in United Autosports' Audi R8 – was the class of the field in the opening session, qualifying the car on pole position, lapping the Cheshire track over eight tenths faster than Andrew Howard who ensured Beechdean's new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 will start its maiden British GT campaign from the outside of the front row.
Such is the variety in their year's grid that eight different brands were represented in the top eight spaces in the opening qualifying session, which was almost exclusively given over to the 'gentlemen driver' of the driver pairings.
Bateman's combination with Matt Bell at United Autosports, however, is one of the more evenly balanced n this year's championship. Though Bateman's standing against his qualifying rivals no doubt eased his passage to pole the team will have to serve a longer mandatory pitstop in both races top satisfy and new-for-2012 performance balancing scheme introduced by series organisers.
Behind the front row Alasdair McCaig qualified third for Ecurie Ecosse in the series debut while 2011 Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough was an impressive fourth in the RJN Motorsport run Nissan GT-R GT3 he will share with Alex Buncombe for the weekend.
Ahead of the grunting Mercedes SLS of the Jones twins and the Jordan Witt/Anthony Reid Invitation Class Chevron GT3 former series champion David Ashburn piloted the best Porsche – one of the multi-coloured Trackspeed trio – to sixth place.
Ashburn – champion for Trackspeed in 2012 – will share the car with semi-regular co-driver Richard Westbrook for the weekend and it was Westbrook who took pole for the second race. The Beechdean Aston will start from second again, Scot Jonny Adam matching Andrew Howard's position from the first session.
Two Ferrari 458 – The MTECH entry of Matt Griffin and the Rosso Verde car of Allan Simonsen will share the second row, ahead of three of the five Porsches, the Trackspeed 911 GT3 Rs of Tim Harvey and Joe Osborne sandwiching Michael Caine's Motorbase car. The final Porsche – the second Motorbase car – sat out the second qualifying session after driver Steve Parish had completed just two laps and struggled to 20th fastest in the earlier session.
Oliver Bryant qualified Ecurie Ecosse's BMW Z4 eighth fastest. Aaron Scott was ninth fastest in the third of the Ferrari 458s – run by Scuderia Vittora – ahead of Buncombe's Nissan and Riki Christodoulou in the Team WFR Ginetta G55, the driver returning to Oulton Park twelve months after winning a race at the beginning of curtailed British F3 program.
Matt Bell, taking over the Audi Bateman had dominated the earlier session in, logged the sixth fastest time, but had his times deleted and the car demoted to the rear of the grid for the second race. The situation mirrors Bateman's start to the 2011 when, driving for Scuderia Vittoria, it was he who was disqualified after then teammate Michael Lyons had put the car on pole for the first race.
Poles in the GT4 were split between Ginetta and Lotus teams. Former Ginetta Junior driver Jody Fannin topped the class in the first session for Team WFR in the Ginetta G50 he shares with former Touring Car driver Warren Hughes. Another former BTCC man – Phil Glew – took pole from the second session for Lotus Sport UK in the Evora he shares with Indian driver Sailesh Bolisetti.
Century Motorsport's Ginetta G50 will take the other spot on the front row for both races after first Zoe Wenham then Mike Simpson performed qualifying duties in the no.42 car.
The GT4 class started the day with five entries, rather than the four that qualified. However the APO Sport Ginetta G50 of current Britcar Production champions Alex Osbourne and James May blew an engine in the morning practice and will take no further part in the weekend's racing.
Also absent from qualifying was the Predator CCTV Ferrari 430 Scuderia of Adam Wilcox and Phil Burton because if gearbox issues. They, however, hope to be able to start Monday's races from the rear of the field.