Andrew Jarman and Alexander Sims sealed their respective GT3 Am and Pro pole positions for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship double-header at Snetterton earlier today after two action-packed 10-minute sessions.
While it was Jarman and his TF Sport team’s maiden series pole, Sims and co-driver Marco Attard will be aiming to make the most of their front row start in pursuit of the GT3 Drivers’ title during tomorrow’s second race.
GT3 AM: JARMAN EDGES AL HARTHY AND GRIFFIN
Both TF Sport Aston Martins had served notice of their pace by finishing first and third in final practice, and Jarman made good on that promise by emerging on top of a fantastic three-way scrap for Race 1’s pole position.
He, Ahmad Al Harthy and championship contender Liam Griffin swapped places throughout the 10-minute session, but it wasn’t until the final flying run of three that Jarman made the decisive move, his 1m50.124s lap proving 0.026s and 0.056s quicker than the Oman Racing Team pair headed by Al Harthy.
The result saw a trio of Aston Martin V12 Vantages take the top three places, while Jarman’s best lap was a second faster than last year’s Am qualifying benchmark.
Ross Wylie again showed good pace aboard the #10 Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S GT3 en route to fourth, one place ahead of Andrew Howard’s championship-chasing Beechdean AMR Aston. Although behind fellow title rival Griffin on the grid, he’ll at least be buoyed to start one place clear of Lee Mowle’s Triple Eight Racing BMW, which also retains a mathematical chance of winning this year’s Drivers’ crown.
All three crews will be delighted to see championship leader Attard lining-up only ninth behind the second TF Sport Aston of Derek Johnston and Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Team LNT Ginetta. Alistair MacKinnon’s RAM Racing Mercedes completes the top-10.
Andrew Jarman, #27 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage: “This one’s been a long time coming after an up and down year for the team, so it’s great to get the result for everyone and the sponsors. This weekend’s the first time I’ve driven a GT3 car around Snetterton, aside from half a dozen laps last year. This result is the culmination of everything we’ve been working towards having found something at Brands last time out. Our race pace should be pretty good, too. Historically I race better than I qualify but it’s so important to be at the front in British GT because it’s so competitive. Hopefully it’ll stay dry, at least for the first race anyway.”
GT3 PRO: DOMINANT SECOND POLE OF THE SEASON FOR SIMS
Such a competitive field suggested the Pro pole shootout would be just as tight as the Am’s. But no-one, it seems, informed Alexander Sims.
FF Corse’s Adam Carroll and Triple Eight’s Joe Osborne set the first representative times but it was Ecurie Ecosse’s championship leader who ultimately prevailed with a lap 0.470s faster than nearest title rival, Jonny Adam, who moved up to second soon after the Barwell Motorsport-run BMW had crossed the line.
No-one troubled the top of the standings after their initial runs, leaving Sims to record his second pole of the season courtesy of a 1m47.409s, a lap 1.5s quicker than 2014’s qualifying best. Adam, the only man with more poles to his name in 2015, lines-up alongside on the front row while Osborne – 0.732s shy of the benchmark time – will be eager to reproduce the sort of form that saw him finish second at Brands Hatch last time out.
First of the non-championship contenders was Matt Bell, the TF Sport man backing up his first podium of the year at Brands with a strong run to fourth ahead of the impressive Mike Simpson. However, his Team LNT Ginetta was subsequently deducted five positions for only completing one of its mandatory two flying laps.
That promotes Phil Keen up to fifth place, a remarkable achievement given the #63 Barwell Motorsport BMW’s accident in FP1 when a brake failure saw his co-driver, Jon Minshaw, crash heavily at Agostini. So severe was the damage that the car missed FP2 and the Am qualifying session before emerging from its garage in time for the Pro segment.
Simpson’s demotion also sees Carroll move up to sixth and the fourth of the championship challengers – Rory Butcher – line-up seventh aboard his Oman Racing Team Aston Martin. The two Von Ryan Racing McLarens are eighth and ninth, Euan Hankey outpacing Andrew Watson by 0.232s, with the Ginetta rounding out the top-10.
Alexander Sims, Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3: “I honestly thought a mid-1m48s would be on the money but clearly that was way off! The car was great to drive and I made the most of the tyres at their peak on my first flying lap. The second would have been pretty close but for a mistake while pushing too hard. It wasn’t perfect by any means but you never really know where the optimum pace is in practice because I never take the new tyres. Race 1 with the success penalty might be more of a damage limitation affair before starting up front for the second.”
The first of tomorrow’s one-hour races starts at 12:55 local time, with Motors TV’s live coverage on air from 12:35.