Fastest laps in the respective halves of the qualifying session for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship gave Beechdean AMR men Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam pole position for the three hour Silverstone 500 race.
The two drivers’ times – combined to decide the grid on aggregate – resulted in a total time of 4:05.155, over a second faster than the total accrued by Rockingham polesitters and championship leaders Ecurie Ecosse.
Incredibly, especially given Howard’s position as defending champion, the pole position is Beechdean’s first such result since they introduced the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 to the series at the start of the 2012 season. However, having qualified second for all three of the races so far the result came at the perfect time for the duo – who lie – conveniently second in the points behind the Ecurie Ecosse pairing of Marco Attard and Alexander Sims.
Adam opened the session for the team, beating Sims’ early benchmark in the session with a lap of 2:01.358. The nature of the Avon Tyres made the early exchanges crucial, drivers almost unanimous in telling stories of how the tyres have a very finite – two laps at widest – window during which to extract the ultimate pace.
The only driver to disprove this theory was Steven Kane, who again proved the Bentley Continental GT3’s deceptively gentle treatment of its tyres by leaping up to sixth in the late laps with a time of 2:02.206.
Sims – limited by tyres – was unable to beat his initial time and was thus second fastest ahead of Joe Osborne’s #8 Triple Eight BMW and the Vantages of PGF-Kinfaun AMR and Oman Racing Team, Rory Butcher in the #5 car outpacing the de jure team leading #4 entry.
Taking over from Michael Caine Ahmad Al Harthy moved the #4 car up the order with his laps in the second half of the session taking fourth on the grid on a second row alongside John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh’s PGF-Kinfaun AMR car.
Howard meanwhile set a best lap of 2:03.797 to extend the #1 car’s advantage over the Ecurie Ecosse from a little over a tenth to 1.1 seconds as Attard was unable to match Howard’s pace. Partly on the strength of Sims’ lap, which was half a second clear of third in the first session the BMW team held onto second. They will start as the only non-Aston Martin in the top seven with Butcher and Liam Griffin’s #5 and the Strata 21 Vantages sixth and seventh.
The Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R of Alex Buncombe and Chris Hoy, United Autosports’ Audi and Rockingham winners FF Corse completed the top ten.
Century Motorsport’s Tom Oliphant and Rick Parfitt Jr. took their second consecutive pole position in GT4, the evenly matched pairing able to rise up the order from the fourth fastest time posted by Oliphant to the pole spot as Parfitt Jr. used the team’s Ginetta G55 GT4 set the best time of the class in the second half of the session.
Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings – another evenly matched duo – will start from second in class with the Academy Motorsport Ginetta third fastest, though they had held the provisional pole early in the session.
The three hour race – the longest of the British GT season – is scheduled to start at 2:15pm tomorrow. www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have live blog coverage of the race online.