Team Parker Racing & Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse have claimed GT3 and GT4 poles respectively for the showpiece event of the British GT Championship – the Silverstone 500.
Team Parker’s Bentley Continental GT3 of Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt has claimed its second pole in as many British GT races as former GP3 driver Morris built on Parfitt’s good lap in the first session to combine for a dominant pole position. In GT4, Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell obliterated the competition to claim the first pole for the McLaren 570S GT4.
First up was GT3 qualifying and the Am side of the driving pairing were first to hit the track to set the first of two laps which would be combined to set the grid. Initially it was Will Moore in the Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS who set a decent time with a 2:03.096 to set a marker for the rest of the 18 car field to beat.
Well, he certainly fired up Rick Parfitt as he became the first man to set a time under the 2:03 barrier with a 2:02.886 to put the Bentley on top. However, Liam Griffin’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 would knock eight-hundredths off that time to claim the lead before Parfitt struck again and took half a tenth off Griffin.
A touch further back in fourth and fifth were two Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3s as TF Sport’s Mark Farmer beat the sister car of Derek Johnston.
In the pro session those times would become the basis for the overall time, and the first to send a warning shot to his rivals was Griffin’s teammate Alexander Sims who recorded a 2:00.101 to set a combined time of 4:02.907.
For a while, it would seem as though that would be the time that took pole position as Ross Gunn in the Beechdean AMR Aston could only climb up to third, and Morris seemed stuck 0.1s behind with a combined 4:03.020 compared to the Lamborghini.
However, it seemed that Morris wasn’t going to settle for second and closing in on the end of the ten minute session he pulled out a 2:00.082 to claim pole by just under one-tenth of a second.
Behind Morris and Sims, championship leaders Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam will start the #17 TF Sport car in third place with the Beechdean machine joining them on the second row of the grid.
The third row of the grid will see Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell’s Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S GT3 joined by Blancpain GT Series regulars Ian Loggie and Callum MacLeod’s Team Parker Bentley which went very well in the session.
With the GT3 battles sorted out, it was time to move on to the GT4s and with 33 cars all looking for the best place on the grid it was obvious that the action was going to be intense.
At first it was series returnees Academy Motorsport who found themselves at the top of the times as Dennis Strandberg’s 2:13.782 put the Anglo-Swede driven car up to the top – combined with a strong time from Matt Nicoll-Jones that car will start in fourth place and the second-highest placed Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Before any other meaningful times had even been set, Sandy Mitchell set a 2:12.995 to demolish the current fastest time and ensure that as the first ten minute session ended for the GT4s, everyone else could only look in wonder at what was powering the mini-McLaren round the track.
Making sure they didn’t completely lose touch though was Jack Bartholomew in the Baby Beechdean AMR car who set a 2:13.484 to finish best of the rest behind Mitchell.
In the Pro session, Jordan Albert made sure to make use of Bartholomew’s quick time as he logged a combined time of 4:26.718 to put himself ahead of some of the Competition102 GT4 European Series cars who had been prompt in getting out as soon as the track turned green.
However, Ciaran Haggerty smelt blood and wanted to make sure he could grab pole position as soon as possible and a total lap time of 4:25.628 put the McLaren more than one second in front of the rest.
After the session he told #TeamTCF: “This has been a long time coming, we just needed everything to come together and we’ve managed to do that for this weekend and fingers crossed the race goes well.
“Sandy had quite a big gap to the car behind in the first session and then in my session I think I just got pipped slightly to first place in my session [on individual times]. But the cars good, we’re both doing similar times and we’re looking good for tomorrow.”
With so many GT4 cars on the grid tomorrow, pole position can be seen as important, but Ciaran downplayed it’s significance. He added: “Pole’s not everything round here though, it’s quite wide and it’s quite easy to pass but it’s good to know that the time’s there and that we can have a clear road ahead of us tomorrow.”
Lining up alongside the Scottish pair on row two will be the Beechdean car, with Anna Walewska and Nathan Freke starting in third place after two very much under-the-radar laps in the Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 catapulted them up to a high position.
Fourth, as already mentioned, is the Academy Aston with Joey Foster building on Alex Reed’s good lap in the Am session to put the Lanan Racing Ginetta in fifth.
For the visitors, pole position in the GT4 Euros went to the #109 Racing Team Holland by Ekris Motorsport Ekris M4 GT4 of Bernhard Van Oranje and Ricardo Van Der Ende. Their time of 4:28.651 is good enough for them to start eighth on the GT4 grid, which will be combined for this weekend.
Second in the GT4 European Series went to the #102 Chevrolet Camaro of V8 Racing International and their pairing of Luc Braams and Duncan Huisman. Third went to the #190 Maserati Trofeo MC GT4 of Villorba Corse.