> Keen fastest in GT3
> Ginettas fill top-three in GT4
> Complete qualifying classification
TF Sport has annexed the front row for tomorrow’s two-hour British GT race at Rockingham after reigning champions Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam pipped team-mates Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes to top spot earlier today. Meanwhile, HHC Motorsport claimed their maiden GT4 pole thanks to the combined efforts of Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha.
GT3: KEEN FASTEST BUT TF SPORT PREVAIL
TF Sport’s Aston Martins locked out the front row for tomorrow’s third round of the season thanks to the consistency of its driver crews, but the result might have been very different without Barwell Motorsport’s fastest Am times being disallowed.
First free practice suggested Oulton Park’s double race winners Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen would have the car to beat in qualifying but when the latter’s two quickest laps – the first of which was almost 0.6s faster than the rest – were deleted due to track limit violations TF Sport pounced.
An incredibly close Am session initially saw Farmer lead Macmillan AMR’s Jack Mitchell by just 0.022s, while Johnston was only a tenth further back after admitting to a mistake on his fastest lap. Rick Parfitt Jnr’s Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental, the AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG driven by Lee Mowle and Lamborghini Huracan of Liam Griffin were also in contention, while Minshaw completed a top-seven separated by just half a second.
The Pros would therefore play a decisive role in deciding the grid, and it was Adam who did just enough to nose ahead of Barnes. The reigning champion’s best wasn’t quite quick enough for the outright fastest time, but three tenths faster than his team-mate was sufficient to give he and Johnston a second Rockingham pole in 12 months by a combined 0.245s.
Keen went into the session having to overturn a half-second deficit, and his outright fastest time of the day – a 1m16.448s – went some way to doing just that. Such was his pace that the #33 Lamborghini – which missed FP2 due to an engine change – missed out on the front row by a combined 0.065s.
The result sees each of the top-three crews carrying hefty pitstop success penalties from Oulton Park into tomorrow’s race, and that could play into the hands of Sam Tordoff who also made ground aboard Barwell’s second Lamborghini to move from sixth to fourth in the final classification. He set the session’s third fastest time – just a tenth down on Keen’s benchmark – while consistency paid off for Team Parker’s Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris who head row three. The AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG driven by Mowle and Ryan Ratcliffe lines up alongside them.
Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron’s Spirit of Race Ferrari starts seventh ahead of Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod who starred in the Pro session by lapping less than two tenths shy of Keen’s time.
Derek Johnston, #1 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “I made a couple of mistakes on my quick lap that fortunately didn’t have an impact today. But I was very pleased with my pace on old tyres during both free practice sessions, and that’s what will have the biggest impact tomorrow. We won the race from pole last season with a 20-second success penalty, and we ‘only’ have 15 tomorrow! The cars behind us also have penalties so it’s going to be very close, but we’re aiming to win. It all depends on me pulling a gap.”
GT4: HHC MOTORSPORT LEADS GINETTA ONE-TWO-THREE
HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton claimed a maiden British GT4 pole position in only their third qualifying session at Rockingham earlier today. The duo finished a combined 0.438s clear of nearest class rivals and fellow Ginetta runners Alex Reed and David Pittard, who were just 0.016s ahead of PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson.
The first session suggested it could have been much closer with just 0.100s covering the top-three of Middleton – whose 1m22.580s would remain fastest of the day – Pittard, and Sandy Mitchell’s Black Bull Garage 59 McLaren. Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing’s Matt Chapman was a further half-second back while reigning champion Johnson posted the fastest Pro/Am time in fifth.
Tregurtha might have been three tenths slower than his co-driver but actually extended HHC’s advantage when Reed could only manage the second session’s sixth quickest lap. That might have opened the door for Mitchell’s co-driver Ciaran Haggerty, but the McLaren was half a tenth further back in seventh, which allowed Robinson – who topped qualifying two courtesy of the fourth fastest combined time – to pip the 570S to third overall.
Johnson and Robinson’s gain was also Chapman and Sam Webster’s loss, with the duo slipping from fourth to fifth ahead of Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones whose Aston Martin completed the top-six.
Joe Osborne helped Tolman Motorsport and David Pattison make up five places from 12th to seventh, while Team Parker Racing’s Porsche driven by Nick Jones and Scott Malvern also moved forwards in the Pro session to complete the top-eight.
Stuart Middleton, #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4: “It feels great too have secured our first British GT pole – Will and I were really on it during qualifying so we couldn’t have asked for any more. We were hoping to make progress at every meeting but to do it this early feels very special. I guess we’ve made more progress than we expected. We tried a few things in practice for the race and weren’t too fussed about our qualifying pace, so we’re in a good place for tomorrow.”
Tomorrow’s two-hour British GT race gets underway at 13:10. Front Runner TV’s live build-up begins at 12:20.
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
20sec – #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 – Minshaw/Keen
15sec – #1 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – Johnston/Adam
10sec – #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 – Farmer/Barnes
20sec – #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 – Pittard/Reed
15sec – #29 In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4 – Hoggarth/Graham
10sec – #501 PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 – Johnson/Robinson