The RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of GT4 graduates John Ferguson and Jamie Caroline has topped the first official session of the 2022 Intelligent Money British GT Championship season. The duo, who stepped up from the Speedworks Motorsport run Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Toyota GT Supra GT4 this year, struck hard and struck early to set the fastest time on just the seventh lap of the one hour session.
In GT4 it was series debutants R Racing who made the running, again with an early effort from Jamie Day who took the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 to the top of the class before handing over to team mate Josh Miller for the bulk of the session.
GT3: RAM Racing 1-2 with new GT3 drivers to the fore.
The two RAM Racing Mercedes had a great start to their British GT Championship year, winning the bragging rights in their respective classes in opening practice ahead of the opening round at Oulton Park. Topping the time sheets was the #15 Mercedes-AMG of Furguson and Caroline, thanks to an early effort from the latter as the crew made their GT3 Silver/Am debut. Jamie’s 1:33.129 outpaced the best offering from team mate and newly minted Mercedes-AMG factory driver Jules Gounon who makes his series debut alongside Ian Loggie in the #6 machine, by a small but respectable margin of 0.176 seconds.
The #6 machine claimed the top spot in GT3 Pro/Am.
Marcus Clutton‘s early offering in the Enduro Motorsport run McLaren 720S GT3 he shares with Morgan Tillbrook was enough to secure third place ahead of the Porsche 911 991.2 GT3-R of Nick Jones and pro driver Scott Malvern. The former British F3 racer set the fastest for the Team Parker Racing run machine. Both cars are entered into GT3 Pro/Am, as are the #4 2Seas Motorsport Mercedes and the #72 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.
Second place in the GT3 Silver/Am class was claimed by the brand new Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 of Taiwanese driver Betty Chen. With both driver and car brand new to the series, second in a very competitive second GT3 class is an epic achievement.
Sam Neary put the old spec Mercedes in to 8th overall and third in Silver/Am for Team ABBA Racing. Balfe Motorsport‘s Adam Carroll and 7TSIX‘s Euan Hankey rounded out the top ten in the Audi and McLaren respectively.
Thirteen of the 31 cars entered improved their times after the halfway point. On the whole the hour was more one of development than outright pace.
The one stand out car of the session for reasons other than lap time was the #3 Assetto Motorsport Bentley Continental GT3. Mark Sansom had the wheel of the car in testing on Friday when an accident made the car a non-starter for today. Luckily for the team Paddock Motorsport, who placed 14th in their McLaren, still have the Bentley that contested the 2021 season and have arranged for it to run as Assetto for this weekend.
GT4: Debutants R Racing Take GT4 Honours for Aston Martin.
One of only two Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4s entered into the championship this season, the R Racing #23 machine surprised many by topping the opening practice session this morning. Josh Miller had the car for the latter part of the session but it was John Day who cemented the car’s top spot on just the sixth lap of the hour.
The margin at the sharp end of the times was even tighter in GT4 than GT3, with just 0.156 seconds splitting the Vantage from the Audi R8 LMS GT4 in second place. Both cars are entered in the Silver Cup class but the surprise comes from the fact that Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding are the only car, team and drivers combination in the class to make it into the new year unchanged. The Steller Motorsport machine should have been favourites to top the opening sessions.
In fact only 8 of the entries into entire championship have made it unchanged from 2021 to 2022!
Tom Edgar and experienced GT4 racer Jack Mitchell took third in GT4 Silver Cup and GT4 Overall for Toyota Gazoo Racing UK ahead of Jamie Orton for Team Parker Racing whose efforts in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Club Sport took fourth overall on the new car’s debut.
Darren Turner for Newbridge Motorsport took a slightly face-lifted Aston Martin GT4, in colour choice at least, to fifth in GT4 and to the top spot in lightly contested GT4 Pro/Am battle. Their rivals for GT4 Pro/Am glory, the Team BRIT McLaren and the Inspire Racing BMW took 30th and 31st overall for their efforts, but both were making their series debut and have an awful lot to learn.
Ross Wylie‘s Valluga Racing Porsche, identical in specification to Team Parker’s car above, took sixth, defending champion Will Burns for Century Motorsport took seventh and Matt Cowley, breaking in a new co-driver after Will Moore announced a year out for medical reasons, took eighth for Academy Motorsport’s Ford Mustang.
The top ten in class was rounded out by the Chris Salkeld/Tom Rawlings driven Century M4 GT4 and Freddy Tomlinson and Josh Wheeler‘s best efforts for the Assetto Motorsport run Ginetta G56 GT4.
The next British GT session gets underway at 11:35 with another hour of free practice before qualifying this afternoon.