Close fought British GT qualifying at Donington

Close fought British GT qualifying at Donington

Barwell's Lambos boss Donington qualifying as DTO takes GT4 pole on British GT return


Alex Martin and Sandy Mitchell narrowly beat Barwell team-mates Rob and Ricky Collard to pole position at Donington where Stuart Middleton and Freddie Tomlinson topped the combined GT4 qualifying times on DTO’s British GT Championship return. 


Neither of the pole winners set fastest individual times. Those accolades went to Tom Gamble (Optimum Motorsport) and Seb Morris (Team Parker Racing) who both lowered their respective class qualifying lap records.


Garage 59’s Shaun Balfe and Adam Smalley head up row three but also clinched Silver-Am pole, while Morris’ time helped the Mercedes-AMG he shares with Charles Dawson to finish fastest of GT4’s Pro-Am contenders and third in class. They line up behind Jack Brown and Zak Meakin (Optimum) who missed out on pole by just 0.061s


A track limits infringement on his final lap prevented Ricky Collard from reclaiming pole position from Sandy Mitchell who’d earlier overturned Rob’s two tenth advantage.


The #63 Huracan topped the first 10-minute session thanks to Collard Snr’s successive fastest times. His first initially established a 0.5s advantage over Shaun Balfe, Kevin Tse and Morgan Tillbrook before the second was necessary to beat Alex Martin.


Garage 59’s McLarens filled the provisional second row after Tillbrook narrowly beat Balfe, while the two Mercedes-AMGs of Tse (2 Seas) and Mike Price (Greystone GT) completed the initial two-by-two-two formation from Mark Smith (Paddock) and Ian Loggie (2 Seas).


Q2 began with Raffaele Marciello setting the early pace for RAM, but it wasn’t long before Mitchell took top spot in the individual and combined times. 

Tom Gamble, who started the session ninth, then clipped the second Fogarty Esses tyre stack en route to fastest lap, but he and Optimum’s McLaren were never a threat to either Lamborghini which were now separated by 0.113s.


That was by no means insurmountable, and for a few moments at least Ricky appeared to have swung the advantage back #63’s way when he crossed the line a combined 0.048s faster. His and Rob’s joy was short-lived, though, thanks to a track limits infringement at the Old Hairpin.


Championship leader Adam Smalley and Maximilian Goetz both moved their respective Garage 59 and 2 Seas entries up one place to third and fourth, while Gamble’s fastest individual time saw the Optimum McLaren he shares with Mark Radcliffe climb four spots.


Marcus Clutton and Tillbrook finished 0.003s slower but completed the top six ahead of RAM’s John Ferguson and Marciello. Paddock’s McLaren shared by Martin Plowman and Smith were next up ahead of Team Abba Racing and 2 Seas’ second Mercedes-AMG.



Stuart Middleton and Freddie Tomlinson gave DTO the perfect start to its British GT return by prevailing in a very tight GT4 qualifying session.


Q1’s top four were separated by less than 0.1s as the session ticked towards its conclusion when Middleton’s last-gasp effort gave the #56 Ginetta a little breathing space. 


Will Moore initially put Academy Motorsport’s #62 Mustang top of the times before being usurped first by Middleton and then Jack Brown in Optimum’s Silverstone 500-winning McLaren.


Brown’s effort kept the Artura out front for much of the session, but Middleton continued to chip away. His second lap trimmed the gap to 0.079s and his third to 0.049s, but it was his very final tour that made the difference, with the Ginetta finally vaulting the McLaren and pulling 0.179s ahead as the flag fell.


That teed up Tomlinson to finish the job, but he had just as much of a fight on his hands in the second session as Meakin took over the McLaren from Brown. His best trimmed a tenth from the margin, but Tomlinson did enough to ensure the Ginetta took pole by 0.061s on combined times. 


His cause was helped by Dan Vaughan who brought the session to an early close by beaching Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s GR Supra in the Esses gravel trap.


Before that, a stonking lap from Seb Morris not only lopped seven tenths off the qualifying record but also moved Team Parker’s Mercedes-AMG he shares with Charles Dawson from seventh to third overall, as well as Pro-Am pole.


Academy enjoyed its best qualifying yet with the new-generation Mustang, with Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones lining up fourth, but it could have been even better had the late red flag not denied Nicoll-Jones after he’d set an outright best first sector on his final lap.


Championship leaders Jamie Day and Mikey Porter grabbed fifth in their Forsetti Aston Martin, and Paddock Motorsport’s Alex Walker and Blake Angliss start sixth. Both Mustangs made the top seven thanks to Erik Evans and Marco Signoretti, while Luca Hopkinson and Harry George rounded out the first eight in their RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG.


Today’s three-hour enduro begins at 13:00 BST. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel from 12:45.


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