Triple Eight Racing have set the early pace in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship as Joe Osborne laid down a marker early in the one hour session.
The BMW Z4 GT3 of Osborne and Lee Mowle wasted no time setting their fastest lap, with their 2:03.648 being set in the first ten minutes of the session.
From then on, it wasn’t just a competition to see who could beat their time, but who else could actually get into the 2:03s – a testament to just how fast their field beating lap was.
Alexander Sims, also in a BMW, did try for a while – he had been the first person to set a quick lap for Ecurie Ecosse, but a 2:03.987 was all they could manage. Team mate Marco Attard though – in the 20 minute bronze driver only session – did set a string of very consistent and brisk laps, showing he and Sims could be a strong pairing for the race.
The returning Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Team Parker Racing – raced by Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod – was quick to make a leap from outside the top ten to third place in the space of two laps, at the expense of the #12 VonRyan Racing McLaren which is being raced this weekend by Gilles Vannelet and Adrian Quaife-Hobbs. The 650S, with its new driver pairing replacing Euan Hankey and accident prone Salih Yoluc, eventually finished in fourth place.
In fifth was the fastest of the Aston Martins with the Beechdean AMR of Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard having to settle for 2:04.309, only a few hundredths behind the McLaren.
New drivers seem to be the order of the day this weekend, and in sixth place was the FF Corse Ferrari 458 of Gary Eastwood and replacement co-driver Richard Lyons who is filling in for a Le Mans-bound Adam Carroll.
They quickly got themselves up to speed and held off a determined effort from the Team Russia By Barwell with Demon Tweeks BMW of Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw.
Onto GT4 and while it was Luke Davenport in the #56 Tolman Motorsport Ginetta who set a 2:15.408 to take the early lead, it was the ISSY Racing Lotus of Gavan Kershaw and Oz Yusuf that would find themselves taking the chequered flag in first place.
Between the early time of Davenport (who would end the session third) and the late lap of Kershaw, Ross Gunn occupied the top of the time sheets for a time in Beechdean’s GT4 Aston Martin – a car which has previous on this track, just a month and a half ago it won the Britcar 24 Hours. However, they would eventually have to settle for second place.
One entry not having such a good day and losing out on early running, was the #53 Stratton/UltraTek Racing Lotus of James Nash and Richard Taffinder. They were running strong for a time, but with about 15 minutes of the first session remaining the car crawled into the pits with what was later discovered to be a throttle pedal issue.
Thankfully for them, the issue was resolved quickly enough for Taffinder to clock a few laps at the end of the bronze-only session and at least get some running.
Also having issues of their own was the only GT3 Porsche – the happily returning Trackspeed 911. Only seven laps were completed by David Ashburn and pro driver Norbert Siedler before the car pulled into the pits and underwent a full engine change that wasn’t completed before the GTs finished their first practice.
The second Free Practice session takes place at 12:10 with qualifying getting underway at 15:35.