Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam have claimed pole position for round five of this season’s Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Spa-Francorchamps after their aggregate time from today’s qualifying session was enough to see off the challenge of Oman Racing Team.
It was the Beechdean AMR pairing’s second pole in as many races and third of the campaign following Adam’s solo effort at Oulton Park on the opening weekend. Their aggregate time of 2m22.574s proved 0.288s faster than Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher’s FP2 pace-setting Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which itself was less than a tenth quicker than the Barwell Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
But it was Adam who initially laid the foundations for a strong grid slot ahead of tomorrow’s two-hour race by lapping 0.6s quicker than the next best Pro in the opening 15-minute session. Indeed, his 2m20.340s effort is comfortably the fastest time of the weekend thus far after he out-paced Butcher and Alexander Sims’ Ecurie Ecosse BMW. The sister Z4 of Keen was fourth ahead of the excellent Mike Simpson – whose Team LNT Ginetta had been fast all day – and Joe Osborne aboard the Triple Eight BMW.
So competitive is the Am field that Howard’s subsequent best lap was only good enough for sixth in his session. But, crucially, he was still within touching distance of nearest challengers Griffin and Minshaw despite the latter setting the second fastest time.
Ecurie Ecosse slipped to fourth after reigning champion Marco Attard recorded the eighth best lap, while the consistency of Andrew Jarman and Jody Firth helped them qualify fifth after setting the seventh and ninth quickest times respectively.
The second Oman Racing Aston of Ahmad Al Harthy and Daniel Lloyd lines up sixth ahead of the Mowle/Osborne Triple Eight BMW and Leonard/Meadows Leonard AMR Vantage, which is making a guest appearance this weekend. The second TF Sport Aston ended up ninth while the Brussels Racing Vantage that topped the Am times by almost nine tenths with Michael Schmetz at the wheel completes the top-10.
Meanwhile, Team LNT and Ginetta’s hopes of a top-five grid slot were dealt a blow when the #32 car’s radiator was punctured while returning to the pits between sessions. It ultimately claimed 13th, two places shy of the Parfitt Jnr/Oliphant sister machine.
Andrew Howard, #007 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “We’ve qualified well this year but not done as well in the races so made a conscious decision after Silverstone to focus on the latter. Hopefully that proves to be the case tomorrow despite also setting pole! It really was a phenomenal lap from Jonny to top the Pro session by six tenths. It’s so close at the front of British GT with a lot of hard chargers in the Am ranks, which is what you want at this level. I was a second slower than my best from morning practice but the change in format and suddenly having GT4 cars around you does make a difference because you only have a lap-and-a-half to get the most out of the tyres. That and having Liam Griffin hounding you from behind does add a bit of pressure!”
Liam Griffin, #6 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “It’s always close between those top half-dozen teams so I’m not surprised by the result. I’ve never raced here before so I’m pleased with second, especially as it wasn’t my best qualifying lap ever. There was a lot of traffic and I got a bit stuck behind other cars; my morning best was 1.5-seconds faster, so there was more time out there. Rory pulled out a great lap, though, and it’s going to be a fantastic race tomorrow. The circuit is just amazing and something we don’t have back home. We just need a decent result tomorrow – Rory was on the podium last year so hopefully, if it’s clean, we can score some good points for the championship.”
Saturday’s two-hour race begins at 12:15 local time.