Marco Attard and Alexander Sims emerged on top from a hard-fought Avon Tyres British GT Championship qualifying session at Rockingham, ensuring the Barwell Motorsport-run Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 pole position for tomorrow’s televised two-hour race.
Contested by the GT3 class’ Am drivers, the first session was led by Andrew Watson in the Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S he shares with fellow silver-graded racer Ross Wylie. Ahmad Al Harthy produced a fine effort to get within 0.050s of the Northern Irishman, while Rory Butcher also put his #6 Oman Racing entry firmly in contention with the third fastest time.
But it was the next two drivers whose laps would prove crucial, with Andrew Howard fourth in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and 2014 champion Attard fifth in his BMW.
That set their respective team-mates up for a battle over pole position when the Pro drivers contested their session. Jonny Adam struck the first blow, sending the #007 Aston to the top with an aggregate time of 2m47.197s.
But having run solidly in practice Sims had clearly been keeping something in reserve, producing a stellar lap to take pole by more than four tenths of a second. He and Attard delivered an aggregate time of 2m46.786s, putting them more than fourth tenths clear of the Howard/Adam pairing.
Third spot went to the Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Al Harthy and his #2 Oman Racing team-mate Daniel Lloyd. Their combined lap of 2m47.811 was enough to edge out the TF Racing-entered sister machine of Derek Johnston and Matt Bell, who will join them on the second row for tomorrow’s points-and-a-half race.
Marco Attard, Barwell Motorsport / Ecurie Ecosse: “I’m really happy with that. I was fifth with a couple of silver drivers ahead of me and couldn’t have got much more out of the car. Then Alexander put in a stunning lap – it was just fantastic! The car feels great now; the team have done a superb job and really got it together.”
Alexander Sims, Barwell Motorsport / Ecurie Ecosse: “We’re very pleased. I think we made great progress from practice to get everything how we wanted it, so real credit goes to the team. Marco did a really good job, too. The race is a different story, but it’s definitely nice to start from the front.”
Jonny Adam, Beechdean AMR: “This isn’t the strongest circuit for the Aston so a front-row start is fantastic. I think we’re really good on heavy fuel, so we’ll be able to perform in the race. The weather looks like it will be mixed but we’re pretty confident in the wet. We’re definitely targeting some valuable points tomorrow.”
Ahmad Al Harthy, Oman Racing: “I had a good session and am really happy with my time. Everything was perfect; the team did a great job balancing the car and, from my side, it was just about putting it together. Third is a good place to start. If it rains or if it’s dry, we’re ready for it.”
Tomorrow’s race provides the drivers with the added incentive of live television coverage on Motors TV. Viewers can join the action at the Northamptonshire venue from 13.00 BST, with the green flag set to drop at 13.25.