Jonny Adam needed an extra lap to secure Avon Tyres British GT Championship pole position for he and Andrew Howard in the face of pressure from both Triple Eight Racing and Von Ryan Racing.
The pair of challengers were, perhaps, unfamiliar foes for the Beechdean AMR duo in qualifying, Triple Eight without a British GT pole in over a year and the Von Ryan combination of Ross Wylie and Andrew Watson with a best showing of seventh in qualifying for the longer format races so far this season, Wylie admitting that qualifying was “not his strong point”.
Despite the Scottish driver’s pessimistic self-analysis it was he who was the fastest man in the first part of qualifying, the Silver graded driver pitted against the ‘Am’ drivers from the other teams but with 70kg extra weight aboard is 650S GT3 to try and level the playing field. His lap of 2:26.557 gave Watson a 91 thousandths head start in the second part of qualifying, with the grid for the two hour to be set by the aggregate total of the best laps of both drivers.
Still, despite Wylie’s performance the established names of the series’ qualifying battles were close behind. Andrew Howard was second fastest in the Beechdean AMR, Ahmad Al Harthy third in the #2 Oman Racing Team Vantage GT3, another entry hauling around additional weight due to the gradings of the driver line-up.
Watson started the second part of the session with form that made the McLaren a threat for pole position, lapping the Brands Hatch Grand Prix track in 1:25.438 to lay down the benchmark for those behind to beat.
Those behind duly obliged.
Jonny Adam bettered Watson’s lap time, overturning the half time deficit to give the 2013 Brands winners provisional pole by six hundredths. Joe Osborne took a full half second from Adam’s best lap time, vaulting to the top of the times by just under a tenth. Lee Mowle had set the fifth fastest time in the first part of the session, leaving Osborne within striking distance as the session built to a crescendo.
Osborne’s single lap time was only beaten by Alexander Sims in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW. Normally a factor in the battle for pole position Marco Attard had struggled to only tenth fastest in the first part of the session, leaving BMW works driver Sims with too much work to do to bring the championship leaders to the very front of the grid on a track where overtaking opportunities can be difficult to find.
Sims’ 1:24.702 was enough to propel the #1 machine to fourth on the grid, where it will share the second row with the Von Ryan McLaren.
Triple Eight, meanwhile looked on course for their first pole since the 2013 season finale, only for Jonny Adam to join Sims and Osborne in the 1:24 bracket with only two minutes to go and while his 24.958 was slower than both it was enough to keep the #007 ahead when the necessary maths was done to make up the grid.
The #6 Oman Racing Team Aston of Rory Butcher and Liam Griffin was fifth fastest, the #27 Vantage of Andrew Jarman and Jody Fannin sixth after the car had been fourth fastest following Jarman’s laps in the first half of qualifying. The FF Corse Ferrari also fell back in the second part of qualifying to take seventh on the grid. First driver in Gary Eastwood had been among the early pace setters in the session, but was unable to improve from his 1:27.130 while Wylie, Howard, Al Harthy and co laid the groundwork for the pole position battle.
Daniel Lloyd failed to capitalise on Al Harthy’s pace – the Omani driver improving from eighth to third in the finals laps of the session, the #2 Aston only eighth best. The #17 Aston – the second of TF Sport’s Astons and the #32 Team LNT Ginetta G55 GT3 completed the top ten in the premier class.
Having fought against steering issues in the practice sessions Jamie Stanley and Paul McNeilly took GT4 pole in the Fox Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4.
With a 1:34.165 effort McNeilly was second fastest in the first part of the session, beaten only by Academy Motorsport man Will Moore and even then by only two hundredths of a second with Aleksander Schjerpen (Century Motorsport) and Oz Yusuf (Issy Racing) third and fourth.
It was Yusuf’s co-driver Gavan Kershaw who announced the first challenge for pole position, the Lotus Evora duo’s cumulative time of 3:07.556 was quickly eclipsed as Stanley added his 1:33.036 to McNeilly’s earlier lap. He would make sure of the position with an astonishing lap of 1:32.413 later in the session. He was one of only two drivers to go quicker than 1:33, the other man being second practice leader Luke Davenport who helped qualify the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta he shares with David Pattison ninth in class.
The two hour race for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship is scheduled to start at 1:30pm, with MotorsTV showing the race live. www.theCheckeredFlag.co.uk will have live blog coverage of the race.