Dan Brown ended a strong day for the 888Optimum Racing BMWs by taking pole position for the two hour Avon Tyres British GT Championship event at Brands Hatch.
Brown and Joe Osborne, in the sister BMW Z4 run by the team, went out early in the session, taking first and second from the very first flying laps of the session though they would fall back into fourth (Osborne) and seventh (Brown) before the mid-session hiatus as teams placed their ‘gentlemen’ drivers in the car to complete the necessary laps before re-embarking on the fight for pole position.
It was Nick Tandy who led into the lull. The Porsche works driver – leading the championship with co-driver David Ashburn – took provisional pole away from Trackspeed teammate Phil Keen who had, himself, only help the top spot for a matter of seconds after displacing Joe Osborne’s early time.
Richard Abra – the Barwell Motorsport Aston Martin the surprise package of the session – split the Trackspeed duo seconds later and once the co-drivers (Mark Poole in the case of Abra) had driven through the mid part of the session he was part of the fight for pole once more, as were the other GT3 Vantages.
First practice topper John Gaw took fourth with a lap in the final moments of the session, but it was Jonny Adam who earned second and the position of best Aston Martin on the grid. The Scot – sharing the Beechdean car with Andrew Howard – briefly took provisional pole, lapping the circuit in 1:25.220. However, he was pushed back onto the outside of the front row by Dan Brown, continuing a strong run of form for the BMWs on the quick corners of the Grand Prix loop.
Backing up the Z4’s pace Olly Bryant will start fifth in the Ecurie Ecosse example he shares with Marco Attard, sharing the third row with Abra and Poole’s Aston. Joe Osborne kept the other 888Optimum car in the top ten in seventh with Rob Barff, Phil Keen and Matt Griffin earning top ten starts for FF Corse, Trackspeed and AF Corse respectively.
Stephen Jelley and Gregor Fisken could only go eighteenth quickest in the #32 Trackspeed entry, putting them behind the pair of Ginetta G55, Fortec Motorsports’ Mercedes SLS and the Team WRT Audi, Warren Hughes only 14th fastest as he and Rembert Berg struggled to match their pace from the first half of the season in their first race with the Belgian team having started the campaign with M-Sport.
Having taken the class points’ lead with their first wins of the season at Snetterton Ryan Ratcliffe gave Optimum Motorsport their first GT4 pole position of the season. His lap of 1:33.867 was nearly three tenths faster than Dan Eagling in the Redgate/Lifetime Racing Ginetta. Declan Jones was third fastest for the Century Motorsport team that had led the championship until the Snetterton weekend.