British GT

Unshaken Jelley Secures Rockingham Pole For Motorbase

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Stephen Jelley made up for teammate Parish's practice off (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Stephen Jelley made up for teammate Parish's practice off (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

After the team repaired the car following Steve Parish's off in the second free practice session Stephen Jelley rewarded their efforts by clinching pole position for the two hour Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Rockingham.

The half hour session on the Northamptonshire roval was a battle – largely – between Porsche and Ferrari. Practice one pacesetters Rosso Verde were quickest out of the blocks, jumping to the top of the times after the first flying laps, with versatile Dane Allan Simonsen almost a second clear at the top of the times, with the Team WFR Ginetta G55 an early second place.

The Ginetta squad would fall backwards during the session, dropping out of the top ten in the closing minutes. There was, however, better news for the team in GT4 with Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes topping the class ahead of Phil Glew's Lotus and the APO Sport Ginetta G50.

The first team to push the G55 (driven by Riki Christodoulou and Jody Firth) down was Matt Griffin in the MTECH Ferrari victorious in the previous round at the Nurburgring. The Irishman took second place – still a half second behind Simonsen in the early going – but was quickly dumped back to fourth, another victim of running outside the track limits, using the extra tarmac on the exit of Tarzan offered by the entrance to the racing school pitlane.

The deletion of his fastest lap initially relegated the MTECH driver to fourth, but with teammate Duncan Cameron in the car against the faster drivers in many of the rivals team the pair dropped outside the top ten before Griffin, back in the car retook second place with only a handful of laps remaining, trailing Jelley's time by just five-hundredths of a second, lapping in 1:23.437.

Griffin's late lap denied what would have been a front row lock-out for Motorbase Performance. Only minutes after Jelley had set what would be the pole lap Michael Caine put the sister Porsche into second fastest, just seven-hundredths down on his teammate, but still -so hindsight would tell – enough -far enough behind to give Griffin room to part the Porsches.

Team WFR, Ginetta G50 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes made sure of GT4 pole for Team WFR (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

The flurry of activity, the Beechdean Aston Martin also leaping into the top five, left Simonsen's time – still from the first completed flying lap – on the brink of plummeting down the order. However, after Hector Lester had completed the necessary laps for him to qualifying his place in the car, Simonsen was put back behind the wheel for the slowing minutes to move the car back up the order, a task he somewhat accomplished, as he made sure of a second row spot alongside the Porsche of Caine and Daniele Perfetti.

Beechdean's Aston rounded out the top five. The Ecurie Ecosse BMW and the RJN Motorsport Nissan GT-R accompanied all three Trackspeed Porsches in the bottom half of the top ten, Phil Keen's time in the no.31 car enough to take seventh fastest despite ending the session early after running wide at the Deene hairpin, ripping off the front splitter and damaging the radiators on a trip through the grass and deciding not to risk driving the damaged car back to the pits.

Less fortunate were the Scuderia Vittoria partners Aaron Scott and John Dhillon who's qualifying session last just two laps before a costly spin at Kirby – on the far side of the circuit – into the gravel. The no.5 Ferrari 458 should occupy the penultimate place on the grid, one ahead of the GT4 Mazda MX5 which experienced more woe after its troubled practice sessions and failed to set a lap time once more.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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