0.003secs separates GT3 front row
Oman Racing Team duo Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine took the GT3 pole whilst ISSY Racing combo Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw placed first in GT4 after driver times were combined following two qualifying sessions at Donington Park for todayss season finale to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
Al Harthy and Caine set a combined 2min 59.018secs in their Aston Martin Vantage to beat the times of champion elect Marco Attard and team-mate Alexander Sims in their Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3 by just 0.003secs. Third fastest in GT3 was the combo of reigning champion Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam in the Beechdean AMR Aston.
Yusuf and Kershaw had a more comfortable GT4 pole with an advantage of over four tenths from the class leading Beechdean AMR Aston Martin GT4 Challenge of Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings, with class rivals Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell in the TF Sport Aston third fastest.
With short, swift qualifying sessions, the onus was on the teams and drivers to set good times early on, but the 31 car strong grid were quick to trade the top times, with the likes of the #888 Triple Eight BMW Z4 GT3 of Derek Johnston and Joe Osborne, along with the #31 Trackspeed Porsche 997 GT3 R of Nick Tandy and David Ashburn, before Attard and Sims took the session into their stride.
It was a similar story in GT4, with Wylie and Giddings looking to assert their title aspirations early on as they topped the times almost instantly, before being challenged by the #44 Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT4 of Barrie Baxter and Dan Cammish, along with the #46 Twisted Team Parker G55 Ginetta GT4 of Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick, before Yusuf and Kershaw took and held onto the class lead.
Heading into Sunday’s two-hour race Marco Attard leads the British GT3 Drivers Championship with 148.5 points from team-mate Alexander Sims on 129.5 with Oman Racing Team #4 duo Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine on 120. The Teams Championship sees Oman Racing Team on 160.5 points from Ecurie Ecosse on 148.5 with Trackspeed on 133.5.
In GT4, Beechdean AMR pairing Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings lead the Drivers Championship with 192.5 points from TF Sport duo Andrew Jarman and Devon Modell on 163 and Twisted Team Parker pair Adrian Barwick and Bradley Ellis on 117.5. The GT4 Teams Championship sees Beechdean AMR on 192.5 from Century Motorsport on 179 and TF Sport on 163.
The Blancpain Gentleman Trophy is headed by Marco Attard on 163.5 points from Andrew Howard’s 133.5 and Jon Minshaw’s 95.
Sunday’s race starts at 12:55, following a two-hour race format, started by the Amateur drivers who must drive for a minimum of 50 minutes before handing over to their Professional colleagues.
Jonny Adam, #1 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3It was an ideal result after Brands and the car has been good all week, so we’re looking forward to tomorrow. The aim is to try and get a win, it’s always good to go into the off-season on the back of a top result, and we can aim for second in the championship, or third at the least. Realistically, to get a win is our aim. The rivals for us could be Trackspeed. Although they’ve not qualified well, they have impressive race pace so they’ll be strong. Not to mention, the two ahead of us are fighting for a title. Donington is a good track, we have great memories from winning here last year.
Ahmad Al Harthy, #4 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3It’s the perfect start to our weekend. We know the pressure is on our rivals and we have to try and win tomorrow. What we achieved today is great, but it’s only half of the weekend. Michael did a great job and the team set the car up perfectly. British GT is so competitive that it’s a sprint race for the next two hours, so it’s important to be at the front. We’ll do what we do best while the pressure is on the #79 BMW.
Marco Attard, #79 Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 GT3It was a really good session for us, although we didn’t have radio! The car felt good, and Alexander did a great time while it came together for me in my stint. Michael and Ahmad are good drivers in a great team, so we know they’ll be good. We’ll just do our own thing. If we get the lead at the first corner, great. If we don’t, we’ll just keep the pressure on them. I’m enjoying Donington, even if the car doesn’t enjoy the Loop so much, but its good fun and the car likes the track.
Joe Osborne, #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering BMW Z4 GT3I’m pretty surprised with the result. Although in free practice we weren’t too far off the pace, as a team we weren’t entirely happy with the car. We performed quite a radical set-up change and it obviously worked. Fourth for me was great, though first last year was better obviously. Jonny Adam is seemingly in a different league here and to be that close to three factory drivers, in particular half a tenth off Sims is pleasing. Derek did a superb job. A podium is the aim; Derek will only go forwards from that position and I know I can mix it with the factory boys. It should be good fun and very close.
Derek Johnston, #888 Triple Eight Race Engineering BMW Z4 GT3I’m chuffed, that was a good result all things considered. I fancy my chances of making up places before the pit stops and I think the team did a good job to overcome some of the issues we had in free practice.
Gavan Kershaw, #77 ISSY Racing / Oz Yusuf Lotus Evora GT4The car always suits Donington, especially the downhill and flowing aspects. Dan Cammish kept me honest as did Bradley Ellis. Oz has done a fantastic job to match the other gentlemen drives and went quicker than who he needed to. It is a team effort on that one so I am looking forward to the race now. I want to end the season with a win. We need a victory. We have always shown pace, now we want the top step.
Jake Giddings, #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin GT4 ChallengeIt’s nice to start in front of our rivals and they have to be determined and aggressive tomorrow, so it’s a case of us starting well and keeping out of their way as they’ll have to go out all guns blazing. It’s a nice advantage having a points lead, but we have to see how it all pans out in the race it’s a different day. The Lotus will be a challenge, but we’ve spoken to Gavan Kershaw! We’ll have to see how the start goes, but we’ve got different aims. I’m a little nervous, as the final ten minutes will feel longer than the two hours total! I’m confident we can do our job tomorrow.
Andrew Jarman, #49 TF Sport Aston Martin GT4 ChallengeIt was a good session, it went pretty well and we were both consistent in qualifying. Third is a good start tomorrow and its long race so we’ll see what happens. It’s a two hour race, so our position doesn’t matter too much. We’ve qualified lower than us with various issues and come back to win races, so we know we can turn it around in a two hour race. We can win and I’m confident, whatever else happens is out of our hands in terms of the championship.