Nothing average about Joe’s lap in final qualifying session of the year
A thrilling 30-minute qualifying session took place this afternoon ahead of the final race of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park, and it was Joe Osborne in the 888Optimum BMW Z4 GT3 that he shares with Lee Mowle that took pole position by almost half a second. The GT4 class pole was a hard fought affair and it was newcomers Twisted Team Parker Racing that went quickest, and Team Horse Power Racing took the GTC class pole.
Osborne, who was quickest in free practice two earlier in the day too, left it until the final five minutes of the half hour session to post his fastest time, a stunning 1:28.299 lap that was over a second under the GT3 lap record for the 2.498 mile GP circuit.
Reigning teams champions Trackspeed trio of Porsches littered the top ten, the first being the #32 car with Richard Westbrook posting a 1:28.739 in the car he shares with Gregor Fisken. Westbrook left it late to go on track and produced two laps within a couple of hundredths of a second of each other, the first put the Porsche ace third, the next lap though ensured a front row start and in doing so relegated Championship contenders Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW to third. Despite starting from the second row, the Ecurie Ecosse pair are happy with their performance as they managed to out qualify their fellow GT3 Championship contenders.
Frustrated by their qualifying performance where the likeable pairing of Rob Barff and Gary Eastwood. The FF Corse drivers were unlucky to not finish higher after two fast laps had to be aborted due to heavy traffic on the GP circuit. Despite this, Barff produced a 1:28.862 and closed out the fourth row despite the advances of Porsche factory driver, Nick Tandy.
Championship contender Tandy was just 0.082s off a second row start; instead team-mate David Ashburn will start the two-hour race of the season from the third row, with fellow title challenger and current championship leader, Andrew Howard alongside him.
The Beechdean-AMR team owner and racer, Howard and his team-mate Jonny Adam were eighteen-thousandths off the Porsche, but have the comfort of being the quickest of four Aston Martin V12 Vantages on the grid this weekend. Howard can also scoop the inaugural Blancpain Gentleman Drivers Trophy too, the prestigious award for the best ‘Gentleman’ racer in British GT.
Row four of the grid sees Audi square up against Porsche, the United Autosports R8 LMS ultra of Matt Bell and Mark Patterson having the edge over Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the #33 Trackspeed Porsche who will line up eighth.
Capping a largely positive day for Ferrari teams were John Dhillon and Aaron Scott in the AF Corse 458 Italia GT3. Scott was in fine form once more and his lap of 1:29.103 elevated the #13 Ferrari firmly into the top ten, the pair eventually finished ninth, just ahead of the Team LNT Ginetta G55 of Rob Smith and Mike Simpson, themselves enjoying a more competitive Saturday at the Leicestershire circuit.
Despite a clash with the Mtech Ginetta of Luke Hines and Derek Johnston early in the session, Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings finished eleventh on their British GT GT3 debut. Behind them was the second 888Optimum BMW of title contenders Dan Brown and Steve Tandy in twelfth, which faired better than rivals for the 2013 Championship Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine in the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche. The duo had a tricky day contending with traffic and suffered with the weight penalty for their Gold/Silver partnership.
Similar to the two practice sessions earlier in the day, qualifying was broken up by a red flag. This time it was Piers Johnson in the #78 Barwell Motorsport BMW who brought a stop to proceedings. Johnson got wide on the exit of Goddards and the Z4 snapped across the track hitting the concrete pit entrance wall, blocking the pit entrance and ending the session for her and team-mate Ron Johnson. The pair will start from row fourteen tomorrow if their Barwell team can fix the damaged BMW.
Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick made a positive start to their British GT campaign together and gave new team Twisted Team Parker a maiden GT4 pole position. Ellis posted a 1:37.103, some 0.870s quicker than fellow Ginetta G50 runners Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr in the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta.
Fellow title contender Declan Jones stopped on track at the end of qualifying with an engine issue in his Century Motorsport Ginetta G50 at Schwantz Curve, having qualified fourth in class.
Another new entrant, Silverstone Auctions-AMR had a strong showing in third place. Richie Stanaway and Harry Whale were under a second off of 2006 British GT Champion Ellis’ time, on this their joint debut in British GT with the Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Alex Osborne and James May were fifth in class with the re-repaired APO Sport Ginetta G50, with just 0.001s splitting them and the Complete Racing-AMR pair of Steve Chaplin and Tom Wilson in the second Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
The final GT4 title contenders Matt Smith and Dan Eagling qualified seventh in class, giving both drivers a lot of work to do in the final race of the season tomorrow.
Track action begins tomorrow at 10:05 with a ten-minute warm-up and then the two-hour ‘Donington Decider’ race begins at 13:05 with LIVE TV coverage on Motors TV starting shortly before.
Joe Osborne, #8 888Optimum BMW Z4 GT3 (First in GT3):
“The last pole position I had was European GT4 in 2009; it’s been a long time coming. I’m a little surprised at the result; I thought the lap in FP2 was perfect so I knew I had nothing left to give. We made some changes to the car, it was difficult to know what the track was going to do, the car was brilliant, the lap was pretty faultless again and the traffic helped me out. I’ve been practising a lot wit the Simcraft simulator lately which has helped too. But ultimately all the stars aligned and gave me this lap; I wish I could save that four and a half tenths for when I’m not so close to pole! I’m happy though and Lee deserves to be up there, he’s improved a lot this year and it’s about time our luck changed.”
Lee Mowle, #8 888Optimum BMW Z4 GT3 (First in GT3):
“He’s finally delivered what I’ve taught him. I think the car has good race pace, if you look at us in qualifying and in past races, the car looks after its tyres. Providing I make it around turn one I think we’re in good shape.”
Richard Westbrook, #32 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R (Second in GT3):
“We left it late, that was the plan, I got two clean laps and I’m really satisfied as that was the maximum I could get from the car. I’m happy that I did two almost identical laps and that was it for this car and me today. You could’ve given me a hundred sets of tyres and I wouldn’t have gone quicker. We’ve worked hard today, Gregor, myself, me engineer and we’re all working really well together. Half a second to the BMW is, well it was a good lap by them.”
Oliver Bryant, #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 (Third in GT3):
“There was only a few tenths in it and I’m not sure we had enough pace to beat Joe today. We needed to finish today ahead of our championship rivals and that is what we’ve achieved, all of them, so it is a good position to start in. We decided to get Marco qualified and then I would go out, it was the right thing to do, and I’m happy with where we qualified.”
Ryan Ratcliffe, #44 Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G50 (Second in GT4):
“It was an alright performance, I think we could’ve got more from the car today, but I’m happy to finish ahead of our rivals. Rick drove really well today and that was important, we’re just going to work on our own race tomorrow and stay out trouble and hope results elsewhere go our way.”
Avon Tyres British GT Championship: Round #7 of 7 – Donington
Saturday 5th – Sunday 6th October, 2013
Donington Park GP Circuit, Castle Donington, Derby, Leicestershire
2.498 mile / 12-turn race circuit
Race Duration: 1 x 120 minutes
British GT TV Broadcast (All times local to broadcaster):
LIVE TV: Motors TV: 13:05 BST / 14:05 CET
Highlights Channel 4: Highlights, Saturday October 12th, 07:00
Motors TV: Highlights, Tuesday October 8th, 22:30
More listings here: http://www.britishgt.com/television.php
Championship points after round 6 of 7:
Full standings after round 6 of 7: http://ow.ly/m5iU1
Blancpain Gentleman Driver Championship after round 6 of 7:
Full BGDT standings after round 6 of 7: http://ow.ly/m5iU1