Title battlers Rick Parfitt Jnr and Phil Keen split GT3 poles at Spa for Team Parker Racing and Barwell Motorsport respectively, whilst Will Tregurtha and Joe Osborne bagged GT4 honours for HHC Motorsport and Tolman Motorsport.
Parfitt Jnr’s #31 Bentley Continental partner Seb Morris managed third for race 2, whilst Keen’s ally Jon Minshaw in the #33 Lamborghini Huracan will start race 1 from fourth.
After a difficult practice 2 in which the #31 Bentley finished bottom of the GT3 order, Parfitt Jnr stormed out of the gates to claim provisional race 1 pole, a second ahead of the challenging Piti Bhirombhakdi in the vividly coloured #39 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488.
Parfitt Jnr’s position atop the standings lasted until the final four minutes, with Silverstone pole-sitter Jack Mitchell in the #24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin surging up the order into top spot – registering weekend best times in sectors 2 and 3 to claim the session’s fastest time.
As the clock ticked down however, a sensational last-gasp effort from Parfitt Jnr was enough to overhaul Mitchell’s best efforts and fire the #31 Bentley to a pivotal race 1 pole.
GT3 title leader Minshaw in the #33 Lamborghini could only scrape fourth, a world away from Barwell’s dominant free practice 2 performance as Bentley snatched first blood in qualifying.
The second 10-minute qualifying burst saw the GT3 Pro drivers make their way out onto the Spa curves to decide the grid order for race 2, with Seb Morris eager to complement partner Parfitt Jnr’s excellent efforts with another Bentley pole.
But Barwell battled back in the second session, with the #77 Lamborghini of Patrick Kujala and the #6 Lamborghini of Sam Tordoff cementing a provisional front-row lock-out for the team.
Both were soon split by Adam Christodoulou‘s Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3, before reigning champion Jonny Adam and then current points leader Keen briefly held an ever-changing top spot.
Keen was soon knocked off the front row by the Team Parker Racing Bentleys, with Callum Macleod sealing provisional pole in the #7 Bentley ahead of Morris’ #31 machine.
The 2 title tusslers Morris and Keen battled back-and-forth, with the latter’s blazing 2:18:631 lap time enough for Barwell to cancel out Team Parker Racing’s race 1 pole with top spot in race 2. A last-ditch lap time from Macleod was enough to shuffle Morris onto the second row, giving Keen some much-needed breathing room from his looming title rival.
Drama struck GT4 even before qualifying began, with practice pacesetters Ebor GT unable to take to the circuit with undisclosed problems, and will be forced to start from the back of the pack in both races.
Additionally, the Silverstone 500 GT4 race-winner and category title-battler Adam Balon‘s #72 Track-Club McLaren 570S didn’t feature in qualifying for race 1, joining the Ebor GT Maserati GT MC at the tail-end of the grid for tomorrow’s opening event.
GT4 began with the Am drivers battling for race 1 pole, with new GT4 championship leader Alex Reed in the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 setting the early pace, emphatically ahead of closest rival Will Phillips‘ #42 AMR Aston Martin GT4, who was a further 1.2 seconds back.
Despite issues in consecutive rounds costing him the title lead, a determined Tregurtha in the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta signalled his intent with a scintillating 2:32:907 effort – over 1 second faster than Reed’s previous provisional pole lap.
With seconds remaining, Phillips elevated his Aston Martin into second, before being beaten to the final front row slot by Sandy Mitchell‘s #100 Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren 570S whilst Tregurtha held onto a comfortable top spot.
The fourth and final qualifying session to determine pole in GT4 for race 2 began in slow fashion, with no drivers setting a competitive lap-time in the opening half of the 10-minute window before David Pittard fired the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta to provisional pole.
Impressive speed in both practice sessions proved no fluke however for the #53 UltraTek Racing Team RJN Nissan 370Z of Martin Plowman, briefly snatching pole before being bumped off the front by the #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S of Osborne.
A stunning 2:32:191 from Osborne was enough to claim a second pole in three events for Tolman, with Ciaran Haggerty‘s Garage 59 McLaren 570S the closest challenger a further 0.157 tenths behind.
A pair of seconds for Garage 59 was matched by a pair of thirds for Macmillan AMR, with Jan Jonck rounding out the top three, whilst debutant Jesse Anttila placed the #29 In2Racing McLaren 570S fourth ahead of Plowman’s Nissan.
A disappointing performance from the top three in the GT4 title battle – Middleton, Pittard and Adam Mackay – saw the championship-fighters only muster 6th, 9th and 12th respectively in a topsy-turvy and unpredictable final qualifying session.