David Ashburn / Nick Tandy Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3R
Redgate Lifetime Racing take a maiden pole in GT4
An exciting 30-minute Avon Tyres British GT championship qualifying session at Rockingham produced a dream result for the Surrey-based Trackspeed team, with the #31 Porsche 997 GT3 R of Nick Tandy and David Ashburn leading the way from Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw’s #33 Porsche and the #32 Porsche of Richard Westbrook and Gregor Fisken. The Redgate Lifetime Racing Ginetta G50 of Dan Eagling and Matt Smith narrowly took the GT4 pole from class points leaders Declan Jones and Zoe Wenham (Century Motorsports).
In a clean session where the entire 32-car field took to the track, Tandy emerged with the quickest time at the wheel of the #31 Porsche 997 GT3 R; a lap of 1:22.569 being the fastest seen over the course of the day and enough to secure his position at the head of the field.
The championship leader, who won last time out in race two at Oulton had seen team-mate Phil Keen take provisional pole in the sister earlier in the session and improve on a second attempt too, but Tandy, who confessed it wasn’t the perfect lap by any means, just did enough to produce fastest times in the first two sectors to edge ahead and eventually take pole by just 0.075 seconds.
Westbrook and Fisken were a close third, the lap of 1:22.669 good enough for third, ensuring all three Trackspeed cars qualified within just one tenth of a second of each other. Best of the rest was Alvaro Parente and Zak Brown’s #23 United Autosports McLaren with a 1:23.065.
Parente had held provisional pole early in the session, but after the mid point of the session, he fell back into the clutches of the Trackspeed trio. Fifth quickest was the #8 BMW of Joe Osborne, just over half a second off pole, and the sister 888Optimum car of Steve Tandy and Dan Brown was twelfth. Notably, the top five were all quicker than Stephen Jelley’s pole time last year.
Matt Bell was sixth quickest, 0.711 seconds off pole; the United Autosports driver and team-mate Mark Patterson had steadily improved throughout the day, making up almost a second since free practice 2. Another driver happy with their performance was Richard Abra, who reportedly drove the lap of his life to finish up seventh on his first British GT qualifying session.
The Vita4One Team Italy Ferrari 458 of Matteo Bobbi and Jay Palmer finished the half hour session eighth, with Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard continuing their Oulton Park form and qualifying within the top ten once more in ninth.
Rounding out the top ten was the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard, the 007 numbered car was just over a second off Tandy’s pole time and two hundredths ahead of Warren Hughes in the M-Sport Audi R8 LMS ultra that he shares with Dutch racer, Rembert Berg.
Elsewhere, new boys Von Ryan Racing finished up 19th with Duncan Tappy and Gregoire Demoustier steadily getting to grips with the British GT championship in their navy and orange McLaren. Behind them in twentieth place were series returnees Balfe Motorsport in the Ferrari 458 it is running for Shaun Balfe and Brazilian sportscar stalwart Tommy Erdos.
Three cars failed to do enough laps per driver; these were the Ginetta G55s of CWS 4×4 Spares and Team LNT, both suffering power steering related woes, and also the Blendini Moto prepared Audi R8 LMS that had been suffering with several issues including a punctured oil tank, over the course of the day. All three cars will start from the back over the grid for tomorrows two-hour endurance thriller at the Rock.
Earlier in the session it was GT4 championship leader Declan Jones who stole a march and had provisional pole for the Century Motorsport prepared Ginetta G50, but Redgate Lifetime Racing had other ideas and with Dan Eagling at the wheel, the pair pipped the class points leaders to pole position for tomorrow’s 120-minute race, the maiden pole for the newly formed team.
While the battle for the class pole wasn’t as titanic as in GT3, the effort was, and had it not been for technical gremlins affecting the Ginettas of Optimum Motorsport and APO Sport, then things may have finished differently.
Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr had been on the pace throughout the day, but traffic caused them to miss out on taking part in the scrap for pole. Elsewhere, APO Sport’s James May and Alex Osborne had to overcome a power issue where their G50 kept cutting out sporadically on track, but eventually strung a 1:32.854 lap together to come home fourth in class.
Finally, the Complete Racing AMR squad finished the day fifth in class after issues with the gearbox halted progress in the days earlier free practice sessions. Chaplins and Wilson’s best of 1:33.488 was six tenths of the APO car, but the race will provide the Aston team with opportunity to make up for lost track time.
Race action tomorrow will begin at 1:05pm with live coverage of the build-up and the full two-hour race from 12:45pm on www.radiolemans.com
Nick Tandy – driver #31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R (GT3 pole)
“Its always more interesting when you’re competitive. If you’re scrabbling around at the back, its very different to being at the front fighting for victories which is one of the reasons David has returned. We work well together, and we’re competitive together, so it makes sense to be here. Having three cars at a team is always better than having two, generally, in terms of data acquisition and working through setup changes. We only planned to do one run, whereas some did two and two sets of new tyres. We’ve saved a set of tyres and we have all three cars up there. It shows what happens when you have a great set of people at a team, a well developed car, and three drivers who can bang in good times when needed. The Porsche isn’t the quickest in the speed traps, but we’re still ahead and that shows the aero work has been successful. To have three cars in the top three, all from one team under one awning is a great job.”
Dan Eagling – driver #50 Redgate Lifetime Racing Ginetta G50 (GT4 pole):
“It was a pretty good lap, we made good improvements on setup throughout the day. The first timed lap we managed to hook it all up, despite having not done much running on new tyres. To be honest its good to know we’re in the mix with the other teams who have much more experience racing Ginettas, like Optimum and Century. I think we can definitely get a good result here tomorrow.”