Pole positions for Griffin and Adam
Motorbase Performance/Oman Racing Team’s Liam Griffin and Beechdean AMR’s Jonny Adam secured overall pole positions for Monday’s season opening Avon Tyres British GT Championship double-header at Oulton Park.
Griffin himself admitted that fastest time in the first of Saturday’s GT3 sessions had come as something of a surprise. Nevertheless, his late flying lap of 1:35.858s was still quick enough to jump fellow front row starter, Gary Eastwood, by a healthy 0.3sec.
The Ferrari driver had only taken provisional pole just as the 10-minute session entered its final throes after leapfrogging Andrew Howard’s Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The 2013 champion lines up third, just a tenth ahead of Mercedes man Alistair MacKinnon who gave newcomers RAM Racing an encouraging start to their British GT programme.
Fellow debutant Andrew Watson was a solid fifth in his Von Ryan Racing McLaren 650S, while last year’s pole-sitter Ahmad Al Harthy was sixth.
Practice pace-setters Barwell Motorsport endured a difficult session with both their BMW Z4 GT3s. Team Russia by Barwell Racing with Demon Tweeks’ Jon Minshaw was ninth while reigning champion Marco Attard qualified 12th in the Ecurie Ecosse entry.
In GT3 Pro class, having seen Beechdean AMR co-driver Howard secure third, Jonny Adam unleashed the full potential of his Aston Martin to lap almost 0.4sec clear of Adam Carroll in the FF Corse Ferrari, which lines up second for both of Monday’s races. Not only that, but the AMR factory driver’s 1:33.877s lap was two tenths faster than Alexander Sims’ 2014 qualifying benchmark.
Phil Keen’s best aboard the Barwell BMW was good enough for third, with Sims a slender 0.037sec further back in the similar Ecurie Ecosse machine.
A fantastic effort from Mike Simpson sees the Team LNT Ginetta GT3 he shares with Steve Tandy start fifth, albeit less than two tenths shy of Keen in third. And Joe Osborne made it three BMWs inside the top six after nipping his Triple Eight Z4 GT3 ahead of Matt Bell’s TF Sport-prepared Aston.
The bumper 16 car GT4 category was equally competitive, with ISSY Racing’s Oz Yusuf coming out on top of the AM session before Luke Davenport secured the Pro pole.
Oz Yusuf put his dominant GT4 Am pole position down to his and ISSY Racing’s hard graft during the winter after lapping over a second quicker than his nearest rival in the day’s opening qualifying session.
The Lotus Evora he shares with Gavan Kershaw was comfortably clear of Will Moore’s Academy Motorsport-run Aston Martin GT4 Challenge, which backed out of a faster final run despite purple and personal best times through sectors one and two respectively. He was still six tenths ahead of James Birch in the Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 though, which moved up several places in the dying moments.
Each crew’s designated Am driver will start the first of Easter Monday’s two one-hour races, while the Pros will be behind the wheel to start the second.