Ram Racing and Barwell Motorsport shared pole positions for the double-header opening round of the British GT Championship at Oulton Park.
In GT4, Multimatic’s Ford Mustang GT4 excelled on its debut this side of the Atlantic as the #15 of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx swept to pole for both of Monday’s one-hour races, the latter breaking the qualifying lap record in the process.
BRITISH GT SEASON PREVIEW | INTERVIEW ADAM CHRISTODOULOU | INTERVIEW MARTIN PLOWMAN | INTERVIEW SEB PRIAULX | INTERVIEW RICK PARFITT JR.
Race one qualifying
The Ams – and the first driver in Silver Cup pairings – took responsibility for setting the grid for the opening race of the weekend and Loggie wasted no time leaping to the head of the field in the Mercedes-AMG GT3.
His first lap of 1m35.250s was good enough to relegate Ryan Ratcliffe – who set the first representative lap of the session – to second, before lowering the fastest lap again as the chequered flag fell to drop his time to 1m35.061.
That lap widened his gap to Team Parker Racing’s Ratcliffe to more than half-a-second as the Welshman struggled with an overly aggressive set-up on the Bentley Continental GT3.
“We had an issue with the rear throughout the session, there was huge oversteer coming out of all the corners,” he told GT REPORT. “We tried an aggressive set-up in testing on Friday and it was horrible on used tyres, but we thought it might have been better on new tyres in qualifying where it pays to be more aggressive but it wasn’t to be.
“If it wasn’t for that, I’m confident we could have been on pole. But the main objective is to get a strong result and get good points, that’s the priority across the whole season.”
Sam De Haan left it late to secure third in the Barwell Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo. His lap of 1m35.699 jumped him ahead of 2017 champion Rick Parfitt by 0.074sec.
Dominic Paul was the fastest of the Century Motorsport BMWs in fifth, while Mark Farmer proved to be the fastest of the Aston Martins in eighth after the British manufacturer struggled all afternoon.
It proved to be a tough session for Balfe Motorsport as Shaun Balfe battled technical gremlins in the McLaren 720S to qualify P11, but team-mate Rob Bell failed to set a time in qualifying for race two.
Scott Maxwell led a Multimatic one-two in the GT4 class for the opening race as he edged out Jade Buford by 0.103sec in a session-long battle between the Mustang pair.
No-one got close to the Americans with Dean Macdonald occupying the best-of-the-rest position. His 1m43.892 was 0.339s off the pace in the HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 but was enough to relegate his team-mate Tom Jackson to the outside of the second row.
Patrick Kibble was the fastest of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 runners as he secured P6 for the luminescent TF Sport entry, while Mark Kimber was the fastest of the Century Motorsport BMW M4 pair in seventh.
Proving how tight the 21-car GT4 class is shaping up to be, Kelvin Fletcher was the fastest of the Pro/Am runners in P10 – just 1.052sec off Maxwell’s benchmark time.
Race two qualifying
Phil Keen showed why he’s become a Lamborghini factory driver as he stormed to pole for the second race by almost half-a-second.
After the session, the Brit said pole was the result of a positive winter – which featured 20,000km of testing.
He added: “The car feels good, we’ve got a really good set-up on it after a lot of testing over the off-season. I’m sure Adam [co-driver Balon] could also have finished higher in his session [P6] but he was hindered by traffic. It’s all looking positive for the races.”
Capping a good day for Ram Racing was Callum Macleod. After setting the fastest time in FP1, Macleod secured the other spot on the front row with a 1m34.037.
His time was just 0.134s better than Adam Christodoulou who made it a Mercedes two-three in the Team ABBA car after he pushed Seb Morris to fourth in the JRM Bentley by 0.0135s.
Jonny Cocker took fifth in the second Barwell entry, less than one-tenth of a second ahead of Nicki Thiim in the #2 TF Sport Aston.
GT4 qualifying arguably saw the best lap of the weekend so far as Priaulx destroyed his competition to take pole for Multimatic. His time of 1m42.384 took the qualifying lap record by 0.001s and was a full 1.146s quicker than previous lap record holder Scott Malvern in the Team Parker Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Priaulx said: “It was a really good lap. It came on my first run on new tyres this weekend and the car just felt hooked up all the way around the lap. The car’s set-up is absolutely great and securing double-pole with Scott is a great confidence booster for the start of the season.”
A sign of just how dominant his lap was, was highlighted by the same 1.146s gap separating everyone from P2 to P16.
Indeed, third-placed Michael Broadhurst in the Fox Motorsport Mercedes was just 0.198s away from snatching a place on the front-row but only half-a-tenth away from being deprived of third by Martin Plowman, who took fourth in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin.
Matthew George took sixth in the Invictus Games Racing Jaguar F-Type SVR, less than a tenth behind TF Sport’s Tom Canning.
Seventh went to Luke Williams in the fastest of the McLaren 570S entries, with McLaren Young Driver Lewis Proctor snapping at his heels in eighth.
Angus Fender took P9 in the fastest of the BMWs with Josh Smith rounding out the top ten in the second of the Tolman Motorsport McLarens.
The two one-hour British GT races take place on Monday 22 April, the first gets underway at 11.15am UK time.
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