Mike Simpson has shown the rest of the British GT Championship field that the Ginetta G55 GT3 really does mean business as he left it until the last lap to claim top spot in free practice two.
At the start of the 50 minute session at Donington Park, it was initially the Aston Martin runners who seemed to be settling into a track that started wet but quickly developed a drying line as time went on with Rory Butcher setting the first competitive lap time – a 1:48.131 – but that was quickly trumped by TF Sport’s Jonny Adam who put his Vantage to the top by setting a 1:46.646.
That time was at the top of a number of quick times that were being set as Jon Minshaw set a 1:47.410 in the Demon Tweeks liveried Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Jon Barnes put the second TF Sport Aston Martin only a few hundredths behind in third.
From that point onwards it seemed the GT3 battle would descend into a straight fight between Minshaw – who had lightning pace in the rapidly drying conditions – and title rival Jonny Adam who was his usual quick self behind the wheel of an Aston Martin.
In GT4, the pace setter was Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse 570S who set a 1:50.813 to go ahead of debutant Sam Webster who is making his first appearance in the Fox Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4. The quick karter is racing that car alongside Jamie Stanley who is also making his first appearance in GT4 this year.
Approaching the halfway mark and the Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 started showing it’s own speed as Seb Morris became one of the first to break down into the 1:44s with a 1:44.533 to go three tenths faster than Jon Barnes.
They couldn’t improve for a while though as the red flag came out to recover Tim Eakin’s Stratton Motorsport Lotus Evora which found itself a new home in the gravel at the bottom of the Craner Curves. As the red flag was put away, it came right back out again as drivers only managed one green flag lap – Alexander Sims managed to jump to first in that time though – before the red flag came out again as Rick Parfitt spun the Bentley into the wall by pit entry.
With eight minutes to go there were few movers on the timing screens but moving up to fourth was Richard Neary in the Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing BMW Z4 GT3, and Sandy Mitchell who recovered his top spot in the GT4 class.
However, the biggest surprise was from Mike Simpson who left it until the last lap of the session to clock a 1:41.524 and put the Tolman Motorsport car on the top of the timings.