Simpson’s a rain master in British GT #DoningtonDecider FP1

Heavy rain has made its presence known as the British GT Championship field got out for Free Practice One at Donington Park and had to handle tricky conditions, but Mike Simpson put his swimming gear on and took the Tolman Motorsport Ginetta to the top of the times.

At the start of the hour long session, it was the GT4 competitors who decided to venture out first and get their wet set-ups sorted for what is looking increasingly like a wet qualifying. However, one car was immediately caught out by the conditions at the Melbourne Hairpin – the #72 Stratton Motorsport Lotus Evora of Tim Eakin – that had to be recovered under yellow flags.

Going quickly though was the Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 of Nathan Freke who set a 1:55.520 to put down a marker for his rivals in the expanded GT4 field for this weekend. He didn’t get to the top of the timing screens though as Phil Keen unleashed a great lap in the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – a 1:46.452 – to go top of the timing sheets.

People didn’t get an immediate chance to beat the title contender’s time though as Abbie Eaton overshot the braking zone going into the Fogarty Esses and had to get the Ebor GT Maserati GT4 recovered under red flags.

After a short delay it became quickly obvious that Mike Simpson’s Tolman Ginetta G55 GT3 was the one to watch as he coloured the timing screens purple with rapid sector after rapid sector to go third, second and then first in as many laps to end up with a 1:44.599 – a second faster than the #33 Lamborghini of Keen and Jon Minshaw which had dropped its own time down to 1:45.636.

Nathan Freke sailed the University of Bolton car to top of GT4 (Credit: Craig Robertson/
Nathan Freke sailed the University of Bolton car to top of GT4 (Credit: Craig Robertson/

Also moving was Robert Barrable in the RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta GT4 who logged a 1:52.433 mid-way through free practice. It looked to be a time good enough to stay top of the class but as the session wound down to it’s end, both Nathan Freke and Ross Gunn’s #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT4 leaped above the Irishman into first and second respectively with Generation AMR MacMillan Racing’s Matty Graham also sneaking up into third place.

Some cars, including those involved in tomorrow’s #DoningtonDecider battle, didn’t set many laps knowing the forecast is for drier weather this afternoon and for the two race tomorrow. The #17 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam completing just one timed lap near the end of the session, with the sister car of Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes not completing a lap after going into the gravel at the Melbourne Hairpin. Also electing not to make an appearance was the GT4 title battling Ginetta of PMW World Expo Racing and Graham Johnson & Mike Robinson.