Silverstone, England 8 September 2012 – Matt Griffin took pole position for the MTECH team in a sun-drenched qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s three-hour race at the Silverstone circuit in Northamptonshire. Team WFR’s Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes secured the GT4 pole position ahead of the fellow Ginetta G50 teams of APO Sport and Optimum Motorsport.
Griffin left it late to set his fastest lap of 2:03.841 in the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 that he shares with experienced gentleman racer, Duncan Cameron, resulting in their first pole position of the 2012 season.
Qualifying a close second behind Griffin and Cameron were Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam in the Beechdean Motorsport prepared Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, while Riki Christodoulou and Jody Firth were a best ever third in their Team WFR Ginetta G55.
Griffin and Cameron’s two sets of championship rivals, David Ashburn, and Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe, both qualified well. Ashburn and co-driver Phil Keen join Team WFR on row two, qualifying their Trackspeed Porsche fourth, just over half a second off Griffin. RJN’s Mardenborough and Buncombe will start from row five, a 2:04.949 placing them ninth.
This means Griffin and Cameron have a great opportunity in tomorrow’s race to make inroads into the slender half point lead Ashburn has over the pair. But, with just two points separating the top five drivers in the championship, it really couldn’t be closer and a non-finish could seriously damage a title challenge.
Anglo-American team, United Autosports finished as the top McLaren team, a late charge from Matt Bell saw the MP4-12c shoot up from eleventh to fifth.
It was a mixed day for Ginetta GT3 teams; Team WFR finished as the top qualifier, but re-joining the series after a six-year gap, Team LNT qualified sixth, Mike Simpson putting the car he shares with Ginetta’s boss Lawrence Tomlinson a tenth ahead of the Aston Martin of Cyber Racing’s John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh.
But there were problems for Optimum Motorsports, which suffered in heavy traffic, and Stark Racing, which had oil pressure issues and a faulty clutch; Ian Stinton remarked that the team still had to ascertain what the root issue was with the G55, but hoped they would start tomorrow’s race.
Gloucestershire’s Steve Tandy, and Joe Osborne, the only repeat winners in 2012 so far will start from eighth with better race pace expected. Former Le Mans driver and BTCC star, Anthony Reid guided the Invitiation Class Chevron GT-3 he shares with Jordan Witt to tenth overall.
Scuderia Vittoria’s John Dhillon and Aaron Scott didn’t take part in qualifying due to a steering rack related issue on their Ferrari 458. However, FF Corse’s Ferrari 458 Challenge (GTC class entry) and F430 cars did complete qualifying, finishing twenty-third and twenty-fourth overall, comfortably ahead of the GT4 class entrants.
Completing a highly successful day for Team WFR was it’s GT4 team. Godstone-based Jody Fannin and the ever-impressive Warren Hughes comfortably took class pole position, but did suffer damage after an altercation with the Beechdean Aston Martin. This didn’t leave the pair with much time to qualify, but the championship leaders did what was needed with Hughes’ lap of 2:14.533 heading a class 1-2-3-4 for the Leeds-based manufacturer.
Fellow Ginetta GT4 entrants, APO Sport and Optimum Motorsport were second and third in class, and championship contender Zoe Wenham’s Century car fourth, after an eventful qualifying session which saw them cause a brief yellow flag period when the G50 overheated. Wenham explains it was due to an air bubble in the cooling system after the team had replaced a windscreen wiper following free-practice. Wenham recovered the car to the pit lane and the Century pair managed to qualify within touch of the front three.
Frustratingly for Wenham, she was a second up on her best time when the car began to overheat, but will start from fourth place after Complete Racing’s Steve Chaplin and Mike Kurton qualified fifth in the Aston Martin GT4 Vantage, and Jota Sport’s Mazda MX-5 GT4 failed to make the session after a small fire in the second free practice session of the day.
Matt Griffin, MTECH Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (First in GT3)
“It’s harder to win this race than it is a world endurance race, we’ve got ten or twelve cars that can fight for the podium here. We’ve got to drive with one eye on the championship, the Nissan is quick and the driver pairing is great. Jann is ballistic and the driver competition is hard to beat. We’ve got to drive like hell and win the race, even if the adjustment for winning here might count against us at Donington, but you can’t do anything but go for the result tomorrow. We should be further ahead in the championship than we are, but Duncan is quick and we’ll have to go for it tomorrow.”
Jody Fannin, Team WFR Ginetta G50 GT4 (First in GT4)
“Qualifying didn’t go entirely to plan, we lost a lot of time in the pits repairing our car, but it is good to get pole, its where we need to be. We’re starting on the inside of the track, which is good too, so we’ve got to go out there and see what we can do. Like I said before, we won’t treat this race any differently, even though we could win the title tomorrow.”
Full times from qualifying are available here: http://bit.ly/NhlkwG
Championship points after round five:
1. David Ashburn Trackspeed 104.5pts
2. Duncan Cameron/Matt Griffin MTECH 104pts
3. Jann Mardenborough/Alex Buncombe RJN Motorsport 102.5pts
4. Alasdair McCaig Ecurie Ecosse 85.5pts
5. Danielle Perfetti/Michael Caine Motorbase 81pts
6. Steve Tandy/Joe Osborne Trackspeed 78.5pts
7. Andrew Howard/Jonny Adam Beechdean 75pts
8. Oliver Bryant Ecurie Ecosse 69.5pts
9. Richard Westbrook Trackspeed 64pts
10. Jon Minshaw/Tim Harvey Trackspeed 59pts
1. Jody Fannin/Warren Hughes Team WFR 187pts
2. Zoe Wenham Century Motorsport 127.5pts
3. Dominic Evans Century Motorsport 100.5pts
4. James May/Alex Osborne APO Sport 82pts
Full points: http://bit.ly/Mi5AsA