The first Free Practice session of the 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship got off to a welcome start at Brands Hatch this morning.
All 26 cars entered made an appearance on the track during the hour long session, which was declared wet by race control, and duly illustrated by early wobbles from both the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK #15 and Balfe Motorsport #90 at Graham Hill Bend. The track dried out as the session progressed, seeing most cars moving from wet to slick tyres, which was a good chance for the teams to get some additional data ahead of later sessions and tomorrow’s race.
It was Phil Keen topping the GT3 table in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo for WPI Motorsport with a fastest lap of 1:25:100, with the Team Abba Racing #8 Mercedes AMG of father son duo Richard and Sam Neary taking second spot just under three tenths of a second behind after a closely fought battle right up to the red flag that ended the session with under a minute to go.
Andrew Howard‘s run in the Beechdean AMR #7 showed some good pace, while Pro teammate Jonny Adam took 3rd quickest honours less than a tenth behind the Mercedes. The #6 Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG with Yelmer Buurman at the wheel took fourth, whilst the Barwell Motorsport #63 Lamborghini of Leo Machitski showed an impressive burst of pace at times but had to settle for 5th quickest in the session, just over one second behind Keen’s fastest lap.
Jake Giddings in the #25 put in an impressively quick lap to send the Car Gods with Cicely Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 to the top of the GT4 lineup by three tenths of a second, but not without some stiff competition throughout the practice session from a number of rivals for the top of the leaderboard.
For a good portion of the session the top spot was alternating between Century Motorsport‘s #9 BMW M4 GT4 a.k.a ‘Harriott’s Chariot’ entry of Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke, Academy Motorsport‘s #61 Ford Mustang with the returning pairing of Matt Cowley and Will Moore, and the Steller Motorsport #42 Audi R8 LMS GT4 with Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams. The #57 Century Motorsport pairing of Gus Burton and Will Burns, and Team Rocket RJN #2 of Jordan Collard and James Kell also had a shout, but in the end it was the #9 Century Motorsport pairing of Salkeld and Gordon-Colebrooke taking the second place, and the Academy Motorsport #61 third spot despite missing most of the last quarter of the session to repair a spot of damage it had picked up.
Just half a second separated the top four GT4 cars in this session, with fourth going to the Steller Motorsport entry pairing of Williams and Fielding, whilst the debut outing in the championship for the new Ginetta G56 saw Assetto Motorsport‘s #56 pairing of Charlie Robertson and Mark Sansom take fifth.
The session overall went without incident after the early wobbles on the slippery track, until Team Abba Racing’s #8 took to the gravel and barriers at Paddock Hill, causing it to take a slow circuit back to the garage, followed shortly by an off for the Balfe Motorport #90, which cause a red flag to be shown bringing the session to an early close with under a minute to go.