Balfe and Kirchhoefer seal GT3 poles at Snetterton British GT

Balfe and Kirchhoefer seal GT3 poles at Snetterton British GT

MIDDLETON AND CLARK FASTEST IN GT4
 

Barwell Motorsport’s Shaun Balfe and 2 Seas Motorsport’s Marvin Kirchhoefer will start Sunday’s two Intelligent Money British GT Championship races from pole position at Snetterton, while Stuart Middleton (Raceway Motorsport) and Charles Clark (Optimum Motorsport) shared the GT4 spoils.


James Cottingham set GT3’s fastest Q1 time but has dropped to sixth on Race 1’s grid following the awarding of a third Behavioural Warning Point this season after making contact with a GT4 car during practice. 2 Seas Motorsport’s appeal against the BHP was dismissed by stewards of the meeting soon after qualifying concluded.


GT3


Cottingham headed into Q1 knowing that his qualifying position was provisionally subject to a five-place grid penalty. And his response – fastest time by 0.481s – was as defiant as it was impressive.


The #4 Mercedes-AMG’s first flyer would have ultimately been fast enough for second place, but there was plenty more to come on its second lap when Cottingham set a blistering 1m47.017s.


No-one else could live with that, although Balfe’s fastest time – 1m47.3s – was scrubbed for a track limits infringement. His follow up couldn’t quite match that pace but it was sufficient to pip Mark Radcliffe’s Optimum McLaren by a tenth.


The top-six remained ever changing throughout the 10 minutes. Century’s Darren Leung and GT3 debutant Matt Topham (Enduro Motorsport) both spent time in second place before winding up fourth and fifth in the session, and third and fourth on the corrected result.


Kevin Tse (Sky Tempesta Racing) set the fastest Silver-Am time to head up row three alongside Cottingham.


However, the top positions were also lacking some of the usual suspects, chief among whom was Ian Loggie who had no answer for his 2 Seas team-mate up front. The reigning champion and two-time Snetterton winner finished 11th, one place ahead of fellow title contender Andrew Howard (Beechdean AMR).


Q2 was far closer thanks to the battle between Kirchhoefer and Ross Gunn who fell just 0.046s shy of the German’s new 1m44.793s qualifying lap record.


Garage 59’s McLaren wasted no time setting its fastest time while the likes of Gunn, Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello eased into the session. All three saved their best for last but couldn’t dislodge Kirchhoefer whose second fastest time would have been good enough for a place on the front row regardless.


Neither 2 Seas’ nor RAM’s Mercedes-AMGs could break into the 1m44s bracket. But Gounon did seal factory bragging rights over Marciello by beating the Swiss to third by 0.2s.


Dan Harper was just 0.019s back in Century’s BMW, but also only 0.038s clear of Orange Racing by JMH’s McLaren driven by Michael O’Brien. 

Cottingham’s co-driver and fellow championship leader Jonny Adam heads up row four from Sandy Mitchell whose Barwell team-mate Will Tregurtha sealed Silver-Am honours in 11th.


GT4


GT4 qualifying at Snetterton produced two thrilling duels between McLaren and Ginetta machinery as each brand secured a top time against the other across the two sessions.


The sole constant across the two showdowns was Optimum Motorsport’s championship-leading McLaren Artura of Jack Brown and Charles Clark, with both drivers figuring at the sharp end of the times. However, Brown would lose out on Race 1 pole to an inspired lap by Raceway Motorsport’s Stuart Middleton in first qualifying, before Clark found enough on his very last run to deny Toro Verde’s Mike Simpson in Q2.


The opening session started as a close-run affair, with Harry George leading the times initially for Enduro Motorsport, before Aston Millar (DTO McLaren) and Zac Meakin (Team Parker Porsche) each enjoyed a turn at the top as the trio traded fractions of a second.


But then came Middleton with a mighty effort that put the #56 Ginetta a whopping 0.6s clear. A later effort from Brown managed to trim the gap to 0.480s, but that was as close as anybody got to Middleton’s benchmark.


Millar pipped R Racing’s Josh Miller by a single thousandth of a second to snatch third, Meakin was fifth, and Michael Crees took sixth overall and GT4 Pro-Am honours in Raceway’s other G56.


Ginetta looked set for double poles for a large segment of second qualifying as the returning Mike Simpson rocketed the #86 Toro Verde Ginetta to the top of the times on his first British GT appearance since 2021.


Clark would, however, have the final say.

His first flying effort established a 0.4s cushion before Simpson leapfrogged him by 0.3s. That’s a comfortable gap in GT4 terms, but Clark dug deep and found even more time on his last effort to eventually beat Simpson by 0.195s. 


The R Racing Aston Martin again showed well in the hands of Seb Hopkins and will start Race 2 from third, ahead of Josh Rowledge in the DTO Artura. Joe Wheeler put the second Toro Verde Ginetta fifth overall, with Darren Burke’s Enduro Artura rounding out the top six.


But it was a difficult qualifying for championship challengers, Ian Gough and Tom Wrigley, who will start the two races from ninth and 12th, respectively. 
 


Related Motorsport Articles

84,552 articles