Both GT3 and GT4 poles have been taken for the 2019 British GT Championship‘s blue riband event, the Silverstone 500. The GT4 pole came thanks to Patrick Kibble and Sennan Fielding who lapped the 3.66 miles of the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in an combined time of 4:25.285. The overall pole position was set at 4:02.881 by the #47 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 of Graham Davidson and AMR factory driver Jonny Adam.
The first part of the four part qualifying procedure saw RAM Racing on top in their Mercedes-AMG GT3. Ian Loggie had the wheel for the Am session and put in a 2:02.532 to go 0.022 seconds clear of the eventual polesitters. Balfe Motorsport placed third after ten minutes thanks to team boss Shaun Balfe while Dominic Paul for Century Motorsport made it four brands in the top four places.
The second session saw the Pro drivers take the wheel and several of the front runners were hobbled by a late return to the pits by the Ams. Some cars were still on their in lap while the Pro drivers started their out lap, so tight is the time windows in British GT qualifying.
The Am drivers mainly set their fastest time on lap 1 of their session, though Balfe’s 2:02.566 came on his third of four laps and Oliver Wilkinson, Sam de Haan and Rick Parfitt Jr all set their best on their last lap but compromised the pros by a late return. In Pro though it was different with all but two drivers getting their best lap in on their second flying lap. It was here that Adam put in his 2:00.327 to go just 0.028 seconds faster than fellow AMR driver Marco Sorensen.
The Dane’s lap for Beechdean AMR was very impressive but his team mate Andrew Howard only managed seventh in his session so on aggregate the #99 Aston Martin only managed second place. It was a similar story for both RAM Racing and Balfe Motorsport, where the Pro drivers turned in times good enough for fifth and sixth on the grid.
GT3 Combined Times Give TF Sport Pole.
Once the times were added together for each driver it was a 0.35 second margin which separated the Aston Martin from the #6 Mercedes of Loggie and MacLeod. Balfe Motorsport continue their strong return from round 1 disappointment with third on the grid ahead of the second TF Sport machine of Mark Farmer and Nicki Thiim.
The result for the #2 machine is even more remarkable given that next to no practice was had after an early FP1 crash for Farmer put the car out of the morning running.
At this stage of the season teams are getting to grips with their new cars so its unsurprising that the #55 JMH Automotive Lamborghini and #33 G-Cat Racing Porsche, both of which are making their British GT debut, qualified at the back of the field. The only cars behind these two newcomers where the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin in which Bradley Ellis abandoned his flying lap due to a brake issue and the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 of Ryan Ratcliffe which didn’t get out of the pits at all in the second session.
GT4: 0.452 Seconds Gives TF Sport Clear Air.
In GT4 it was once again TF Sport to the fore with Patrick Kibble nailing his second lap of five to put 0.504 seconds between his Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 and the #43 BMW M4 GT4 of Angus Fender for Century. The 3rd place for Generation AMR SuperRacing would appear to be an aberration though, caused by the fact that Matthew George is pulling double duty in the #14 Aston Martin and #44 Jaguar F-Type SVR GT4 so was the sole professional driver in the GT4 Am session.
In fact had the Am driver in the #14, James Holder of SuperDry fame, been in the car it would have placed just 24th in the standings while George’s time would have put him 12th in the Pro session.
In the second session Josh Price had the wheel of the provisional pole sitter and fell just one thousandth of a second short of the target laid down by his team mate. It was enough to slot him in third, behind the #29 Steller Performance Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Sennan Fielding which had taken fifth at the hands of Richard Williams in the preceding session. The Pro pace was set by Martin Plowman who held a 0.146 second advantage over the #29 in the Beechdean AMR GT4 entry. Had actor turned racer Kelvin Fletcher performed better than 16th in the Am session it could have been a different story for pole.
GT4 Combined Result Confirms TF Sport Double Pole.
Once the results were merged to create the combined times it was clear that Price had done enough to preserve most of Kibble’s half second advantage. Fielding’s impressive pace in the Audi confirmed that the R8 would share the front row ahead of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern. Strangely, the session time sheet for Malvern’s run puts him in 26th place with a 2:11, which should have him at the top of the time sheet. In the combined result he is classified correctly though.
Tolman Motorsport and HHC Motorsport continued their battle for the best of the McLaren runners by takeing 3rd and 4th on the grid respectively with the #4 and #57 machines. Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx start fifth for Multimatic Motorsports with their Mustang.
Warm Up Falls to Mercedes Thanks to Team ABBA.
The only running on Sunday before the start of the big race was the ten minute warm up session. Usually TCF doesn’t cover this but while we were waiting for clarification on the Scott Malvern time issue, the session took place.
Adam Christodoulou had the wheel of the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the three laps the car completed and put in a time which sat 0.788 seconds clear of his nearest rival, Nicki Thiim in the #2 Aston Martin from TF Sport. RAM Racing took third thanks to Callum MacLeod with JRM Racing joining the top of the pack for the first time this weekend thanks to Seb Morris.
In GT4 it was again Mercedes which took top honours. ERC Sport headed the running thanks to Maximillian Buhk from Dino Zamparelli in the #88 Porsche. Academy Motorsport had third ahead of Maxwell for Multimatic. The first repeat marque was Mercedes, with Michael Broadhurst for Fox Motorsport putting the #77 into fourth place.
Its worth noting though that times in warm up are rarely representative. Indeed five cars didn’t take part including the #3 BMW M6 GT3 from Century Motorsport and the #57 HHC McLaren, both of which will be sure to be in the thick of the action this afternoon.
The 3 hour Silverstone 500 race starts at 12:35 this afternoon and will be covered in live text by TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk. Those wanting to watch the action can access a free live stream via the BritishGT.com website and SRO GTWorld Youtube channel.