A thrilling GT4 qualifying session in ever-improving conditions saw the #42 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of Ben Tuck and Ben Green net a vital pole position on a day when team-mate and championship leaders Jack Mitchell and Dean MacDonald could only record the seventh fastest time.
A delighted Ben Tuck said “If we ever need a pole, now was the time! It’s really great that we’ve managed to get it done, on the last lap as well. I scared myself as I went too deep into the final corner and I thought I had messed it up”.
Tuck added, “It’s easy to get caught up overthinking things, and we’ve just got to get our heads down and drive. We will be going flat out no matter where any of our title rivals are. We’ve got a 15-second pitstop penalty, but we can’t do anything about that, and we’ve just got to drive around it.”
Finlay Hutchison had set the initial pace in the first part of qualifying, a 1m47.436s giving the #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4 a comfortable advantage of 0.360s over the rest of the field. Green finished second quickest while Tolman’s Michael O’Brien, who had topped the times for a large part of the session, was eight tenths slower than Hutchison in third.
A strong performance from local boy Tom Wood saw the 16-year-old go fourth quickest in the Academy Motorsport Aston Martin, which finished ahead of HHC Motorsport’s championship-challenging Ginetta driven by Callum Pointon.
Verschuur also looked well set to maintain its provisional pole position in the second session. However, a last-gasp effort from Tuck was enough to secure pole for himself and team-mate Green by a combined 0.270s. And that could prove crucial tomorrow when the pair must overturn Mitchell’s current 10-point lead while also serving a 15s pitstop success penalty for finishing runners-up in the previous round at Brands Hatch.
Daniel McKay also lines up on the front row in his and Hutchison’s #10 McLaren while O’Brien and Charlie Fagg, who still retain a chance of winning the crown, claimed third in their Tolman Motorsport McLaren. Meanwhile, a stellar lap from Ben Barnicoat enabled the #72 Balfe Motorsport 570S he shares with Adam Balon to claim fourth overall and Pro Am pole.
Further back, title contenders Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones combined to take fifth ahead of the sister Academy Motorsport V8 Vantage shared by Wood and Jan Jonck. Sixth fastest was the McLaren of O’Brien and Fagg with Macdonald and Mitchell only able to manage seventh in their BMW.
The top-eight was rounded out by Pro Am points’ leaders Nick Jones and Scott Malvern in the Team Parker Mercedes-AMG, and Pointon/Patrik Matthiesen will aim to bridge their overall 13.5-point deficit from ninth on the grid tomorrow.
Elsewhere, Joe Osborne set the class’ overall pace, his 1m46.074s earning him and David Pattison 13th in their Tolman Motorsport McLaren. Adam Morgan also impressed on Ciceley Motorsport’s British GT debut en route to the second-fastest individual time.
Live build-up to British GT’s two-hour #DoningtonDecider begins at 15:15 tomorrow before the race itself gets underway at 13:35. Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page.