Century Motorsport’s Tom Gamble and TF Sport’s Nicki Thiim swept to the two pole positions for Snetterton’s pair of one-hour British GT Championship races.
In GT4, Scott Maxwell took another pole position in the Multimatic Ford Mustang for the first race, while another Scott – Team Parker Racing’s Scott Malvern – pipped Tom Canning to claim the top spot for the second encounter in the Mercedes-AMG GT4.
Gamble, who stepped in at short notice to replace an injured Adrian Willmott, looked like a seasoned veteran in the BMW M6 GT3 he shares with Jack Mitchell.
The former British F3 racer, who is competing in Blancpain GT with Team WRT this year, only drove the car for the first time in Saturday’s first practice session but was comfortable enough to edge out Barwell Motorsport’s Sam De Haan by 0.076s having set a 1m49.129. The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo driver had led in the first half of the ten-minute session, but had no answer to Gamble’s pace.
“It was a great lap,” Gamble said. “I messed up initially with track position, I was stuck behind a few others cars but I managed to get that crucial lap in when it mattered to get pole. I hadn’t even sat in the car before this weekend, so to finish top is more than I could have imagined.”
Third went to TF Sport’s Graham Davidson, the Scot is optimistic he’ll be able to carry on his quick pace into the races. He shares the second row with the second Barwell Lamborghini of Adam Balon.
Fifth went to Glynn Geddie in the fastest of the Bentley Continental GT3s, his 1m49.483 half-a-second clear of Ollie Wilkinson in the Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3.
Shaun Balfe took seventh in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S – which is free of the issues that blighted the team at the opening round at Oulton Park last month – while Dominic Paul took eighth in the second of the Century BMWs.
Maxwell had to push the Mustang to its limit to take pole in GT4, after a thrilling battle with TF Sport’s Josh Price. The latter had taken provisional pole early in the session but took too much life out of his Pirelli tyres so when the American put in a 1m57.591, the Aston Martin driver was unable to respond.
The 20-year-old will start third, having been relegated in the dying moments of the session by the fastest Pro-Am entry of Steller Performance. Richard Williams gave the Audi R8 LMS GT4 a great debut, securing a spot on the front row by just 0.050s.
After the session, Maxwell said the team might not be able to match that lightning pace in the race. He added: “We struggled this morning, but the guys made a lot of changes throughout practice and we’re in a lot better position now. The session was a lot closer than it was at Oulton Park.
“The BoP hurts us a bit around Snetterton, so we’ll see how we perform come race day but I’m sure we can get a good result.”
Callum Pointon took fourth in the HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S, less than one-tenth of a second ahead of the Tolman Motorsport McLaren of Josh Smith.
Mark Kimber took sixth in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, with Luke Williams rounding out the top seven in the second HHC McLaren.
Thiim replicated the rapid pace he showed in Free Practice One to take pole position for TF Sport by just 0.055s as Phil Keen closed in but couldn’t overhaul the Dane in his Huracán.
The Aston Martin racer set his 1m47.181 in the early stages in his part of qualifying and – despite Keen improving his initial effort to clock a 1m47.236s – Thiim held on to secure pole.
“I really like the track, the boys have done a great job today with the car. It was basically a one-lap wonder,” he said. “It’s a long day tomorrow with two races but I’m sure we can get some good results.”
Highlighting how close the top of the GT3 field is, Jonny Cocker took third for Barwell but missed out on the chance of securing a double front-row start for the Lamborghini he shares with De Haan – who took second for the first race – as his time was just 0.090s slower than Keen’s.
Seb Morris secured fourth for JRM having only got on track late in the session in the Bentley, but needed only two laps to set his fastest time. Fifth went to Adam Christodoulou in the Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 while Rob Bell took sixth for Balfe Motorsport.
It felt like half the field was on pole at one point in the GT4 class, with Michael Broadhurst, Tom Canning and Dean Macdonald all enjoying spells at the top of the timing sheet before Malvern swept his competition aside with a 1m58.589 to pull 0.108s clear and secure Team Parker’s first overall GT4 pole since the opening round of the 2018 season.
Malvern said: “It’s been a long time since we’ve taken an outright pole position so it’s great to finally be up there again. We’ve been quite good in qualifying at Snetterton in the past but struggled in the race so we’ll see how it goes tomorrow and hopefully, we can avoid trouble.”
Canning eventually finished second for TF Sport, with Macdonald securing another solid start for HHC in a good session generally for the British manufacturer as Jordan Collard took fourth for Tolman and Michael O’Brien took sixth for Balfe Motorsport’s GT4 entry – just 0.032s behind Dino Zamparelli in the GT Marques Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
After slipping down the order late on, Broadhurst took seventh for Fox Motorsport just a blink of an eye – or 0.006s – ahead of Tom Jackson in the #58 HHC McLaren.
The first 60-minute British GT race takes place tomorrow (19 May) at 11.10am.