Jenson Team Rocket RJN took two poles in as many Intelligent Money British GT Championship races as Worlds Fastest Games James Baldwin and McLaren factory driver Michael O’Brien combined to just squeeze their way to the top of the times at Brands Hatch.
In GT4, it was the Aston Martin show as both the TF Sport Vantages locked out the front-row of the field as it left its rivals trailing in their wake around the historic Kent circuit.
Baldwin proved his virtual experience easily translates to on-track form as he powered his way to the top spot in the Am section of qualifying (this weekend the Am and Pro times in their individual sessions combine to set the grid) in the McLaren 720S GT3 – eclipsing the 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren of Dean Macdonald by 0.202s.
Despite O’Brien not setting the fastest individual time in the Pro session, the pair still came out on top but only just. That’s because the #78 Barwell Motorsport of Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell was just 0.085s away from pipping them after Collard’s best-of-the-rest time behind the McLarens in the Am session was added to by a decent lap by Mitchell, but the latter couldn’t break beneath the 1m24s barrier – which was achieved by a number of his rivals – and had to settle for the outside of the front-row.
It was a relatively slow lap in the Am session by Ian Loggie that stopped Yelmer Buurman’s fastest lap of the session being enough for pole. Buurman’s 1m23.463s was more than three-tenths clear of any other effort, but because Loggie finished in the lower half of the Am times, they took third – 0.286s off pole.
The same situation unfolded for the returning Beechdean crew. Andrew Howard belied the little running he’s done this year by setting a respectable time in his section in the Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3 but despite Jonny Adam setting the second-best time of qualifying it couldn’t raise them above fourth on the grid.
2 Seas Motorsport claimed both spots on the third-row with the #10 of Jack Mitchell and Jordan Witt pipping the sister car of Macdonald and Angus Fender by the narrowest of narrow margins – just 0.001s separated the pair on combined times.
Seventh went to Donington Park endurance winner WPI Motorsport with Franck Perera putting in a good showing on his series debut to power team-owner and team-mate Michael Igoe onto row four, ahead of the second of the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3s of Patrick Kujala and Sam De Haan.
Optimum Motorsport took ninth with its McLaren 720S GT3 with the second Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Adam Balon and Phil Keen rounding out the top ten.
The final places on the GT3 grid went to Team ABBA Racing, Steller Motorsport – making its GT3 debut with an Audi R8 LMS – and Team Parker Racing.
Connor O’Brien and Patrick Kibble carried on their fine form in recent races to storm away with pole position despite O’Brien reporting a number of warning lights flashing at him early on during his session in the TF Sport Aston.
The pair combined terrifically with O’Brien’s 1m32.057 and Kibble’s 1m31.770s linking together to beat the sister car of Jamie Caroline and Dan Vaughan by 0.730s thanks, in part, to Vaughan’s relatively slower lap in the Am section of qualifying.
Third went to one of the revelations of the season so far as James Kell and Sam Smelt took third – just three-tenths away from the front-row – in their Speedworks Motorsport-run Toyota GR Supra.
That said, the pair didn’t exactly breeze their way to that position as they had to fend off the close attentions of the HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 of Patrick Matthiesen and Jordan Collard, which claimed the outside of the second-row with a combined time just 0.191s away from the Supra.
Their team-mates Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers took fifth with the returning Ben Green, who has returned to Century Motorsport to share a BMW M4 GT4 with full-season driver Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke, claiming sixth.
Seventh was the second of the Century BMWs with Ben Hurst now sharing that car with Adam Hatfield. They finished exactly a tenth ahead of Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert in the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang.
Balfe Motorsport rounded out the nine-car GT4 field, the Pro-Am McLaren 570S GT4 of Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt 0.402s off the back of the Mustang.
The fourth race of the 2020 British GT season gets underway at 13.00 UK time (14.00 CET) and live-streaming will be available on GT REPORT!
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