Optimum Motorsport’s Jonny Adam and Flick Haigh claimed an early advantage in their championship fight with Barwell Motorsport’s Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen as they claimed pole position for British GT’s penultimate round of the year at Brands Hatch.
Top five finishes in both of the free practice sessions gave the pair confidence going into qualifying and the second fastest lap of the day from Adam – a 1m 25.182 – combined with Haigh’s time of 1m 27.347 to give them a third pole position of the season.
That put them 0.4s ahead of the Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Beechdean AMR, as Darren Turner quickly re-established himself at a Brands Hatch track he hadn’t raced at for 10 years.
Rounding out the top three for Sunday’s two-hour race were championship leaders Keen and Minshaw, the pair unable to match the lead Astons in their Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
“I think the race will be very competitive tomorrow,” Haigh told Motorsport Media. “It is very close in the times we posted today, and I think it will be a case of getting my head down and getting on with it really.”
Adam conceded that it is going to be a tough race, with the 19 GT4 entries posing a significant challenge. He added: “This race has always been difficult in terms of the traffic. It is a short lap, and the GT4s are quite quick in a straight line these days so it is difficult to get past them, especially on the GP Loop. Mixed with the warm weather, it is going to be a tough race.”
Fourth place went to Spa winners Graham Davidson and Maxime Martin. The Jetstream team qualified just 0.05s behind the Barwell entry, despite a gearbox actuator fault limiting their running in the first practice session.
In GT4, the Century Motorsport BMW M4s ruled the way as the number 43 of Dean MacDonald and Jack Mitchell edged out the number 42 of Ben Tuck and Ben Green by just 0.022s.
MacDonald was the pace-setter in the first 10 minute qualifying session, with Green second by just 0.013s. When the second drivers took to the track for the second session, Tuck couldn’t overcome that small gap, with Mitchell braking one metre later into one of Brands Hatch’s corners to add 0.009s to the number 43’s advantage.
Before that, Mitchell and Tuck had traded fastest laps but with less than three minutes of the session remaining, Mitchell struck the decisive blow.
After qualifying, he told GT REPORT: “After watching the first part and seeing Ben and Dean finishing so close together I knew it was going to be a tight fight and that I had to pull something out of the bag around the back session to find that extra time. I managed to do it and it was great to see me and Ben pushing the car to its limits.
“I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow, we have a 20s success penalty after winning at Spa, that might hold us back for the win but at the end of the day we just need a consistent finish and we’ll hopefully stay ahead of the HHC Motorsport Ginetta crew in the drivers’ championship.”
Tuck agreed that the race will be a close battle between the four drivers, and admitted he couldn’t have gone any faster: “It was nice to have both BMWs at the front, the team has done a great job. We struggled a bit in FP1 but the team knew what needed to be done and it’s all come good now. It was so close, he just pipped me right at the end! I don’t know where I’m going to find that extra time, that was absolutely as fast as I can go!”
Third place went to the Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 of Tom Wood and Jan Jonck. The pair finished three-tenths behind the lead BMWs, ahead of the Tolman McLaren 570S of Michael O’Brien and Charlie Fagg. The second Academy Aston of Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore qualified fifth.