RAM Racing have struck first in Cheshire, taking the top spot in the first of two free practice sessions for the 2019 British GT Championship season opener at Oulton Park. The top time came courtesy of Callum Macleod, who put the car ahead of early session leaders TF Sport.
Nicki Thiim shot to the top of the time sheets in the early running, the Aston Martin Racing pro instantly demolishing the lap record of 1:34.624. Fortunately for record holder Macleod, lap records only count in race sessions. It didn’t matter though as within 15 minutes of the 1 hour session starting, the Mercedes-AMG leapt to the top and stayed there for the duration.
Thiim later improved his best time but only to within 0.1 of a second of the pace setter. The Dane’s bronze ranked co-driver, Mark Farmer, kept it out of trouble but was never going to be able to match the pace of the Benz. Likewise, Ian Loggie, was unlikely to match the pace of his golden team mate and the top stabilised.
Third place went to Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou, the Team ABBA machine just over half a second off the pace set down by their brand mate.
In GT4 it was a similar story with the fastest times coming early in the session. The eighth lap of the hour for Academy Motorsport was the ticket in the lower class thanks to Alex Toth-Jones. The new for 2019 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 stood proud at the head of 17 cars covered by just a second at the end of the session which was conducted in beautiful conditions. Will Moore shares the car with Toth-Jones but despite several years more experience in class he had no answer for the pace of the Ginetta GT5 Challenge graduate.
Second in class was Mercedes-AMG, this time thanks to Team Parker Racing and Scott Malvern, unfortunately unable to match the class leading achievement of brand brothers RAM Racing. Sharing with Nick Jones, the pair are reigning Pro/Am Champions but were 0.069 off the pace at the close of play. Century Motorsport started as they mean to go on, taking third just 0.111 of a second off the Aston Martin. The lap time for the BMW M4 GT4 came courtesy of series debutant Angus Fender who shares with 2014 Monoposto champion Andrew Gordon-Colebrook.
A sign of how hotly contested the class will be comes in the variety at the top of the field. The first repeat of a brand comes thanks to Aston Martin and TF Sport, down in seventh place thanks to Josh Price with seven of the eight entered brands in the top ten. It is set to be a remarkable season in the junior class.
There will of course be no prizes for guessing the top car in the GTC class. With just a single entry for WPI Motorsport on the list, its not a lottery. It is worth noting though in this, the first session of the season, that projections on pace are perfectly played out. Michael Igoe shares the car with long term team mate Adam Wilcox. The latter set the fastest time for the car which was 2.840 seconds behind the last GT3 runner and 5.003 quicker than GT4.
Free practice 2 will be the next time the British GT cars grace the Oulton Park tarmac which starts at 11:40. RAM Racing will be looking to build on their strong start to the weekend. Full coverage of all the British GT sessions this weekend will be available here on TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk. Qualifying will follow today with two 1 hour races, streamed live on the British GT Facebook Page, taking place on Easter Monday.
1st: RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Callum Macleod – 1:34.197
2nd: TF Sport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 – Nicki Thiim – 1:34.297
3rd: Team ABBA Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Adam Christodoulou – 1:34.744
1st: WPI Motorsport Porsche 991 911 GT3 Cup – Adam Wilcox – 1:38.908
1st: Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 – Alex Toth-Jones – 1:43.911
2nd: Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 – Scott Malvern – 1:43.980
3rd: Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 – Angus Fender – 1:44.023