Enduro Motorsport and Team Parker Racing shared the fastest times in Free Practice for the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s first double-header weekend of the season at Snetterton, on a Saturday morning which started dry and got gradually wetter throughout.
In GT4, Sott McKenna topped FP1 for Toyota Gazoo Racing UK, before Century Motorsport bounced back from a slow start to top the second session thanks to Will Burns’ late lap in the BMW M4 GT4.
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Free Practice One
Marcus Clutton topped the first practice session for Enduro Motorsport, the squad returning to British GT action after skipping the trip to Belgium.
Clutton’s early flying lap in the McLaren 720S GT3, a 1m49.109sec, was an early pacesetter which was never bettered – aided by the fact that drizzly rain swept across Snetterton with just under half of the session remaining, leaving teams in a limbo between doing a few laps on wets to get knowledge for the rest of the weekend, or just wait it out in the garage.
Behind the McLaren, it was a Lamborghini lockout of places two-to-four as Sandy Mitchell took second in the Barwell Motorsport Huracán he shares with Adam Balon, the pair 0.290sec down on Clutton, but 0.044sec ahead of Barwell team-mates Dennis Lind and Leo Machitski.
Phil Keen put WPI Motorsport’s Huracán fourth, half-a-tenth clear of Jonny Adam in the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin – the Scot returning after his enforced absence from Spa.
Charlie Eastwood was the first driver outside of a second of the leading pace, as he put the returning Oman Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 sixth in the times – just 0.056sec ahead of Lewis Proctor’s Balfe Motorsport McLaren.
Almost two seconds down on Proctor was the Paddock Motorsport Bentley Continental of Martin Plowman and Kelvin Fletcher, with Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie close behind in ninth. Team Parker Racing rounded out the top ten, Scott Malvern and Nick Jones racing a new chassis this weekend after Malvern’s Raidillon crash at Spa.
Rather unsurprisingly, considering his pace – if not luck – in recent rounds, Scott McKenna topped the GT4 class in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra, half-a-second ahead of the #3 Team Rocket RJN McLaren 570S of Alain Valente and Michael Benyahia.
The sister McLaren of James Kell and Jordan Collard finished third, the pair in a new car for this weekend after Kell’s crash at Spa wrote off the old chassis.
Matt Topham and Darren Turner took fourth in their Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4, just ahead of the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Jake Giddings and Dave Whitmore.
While it’s only practice, one slight surprise from the opening session was the Century Motorsport BMWs finishing only sixth and eighth – the #57 of Will Burns and Gus Burton beating out the #9 of Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke. Splitting the two BMW M4 GT4s was Ash Marshall and Jack Brown in the Balfe McLaren GT4.
Free Practice Two
The drizzle in FP1 became a full-blown downpour for the second session on Saturday lunchtime, with the Norfolk circuit absolutely soaked – giving the teams ideal preparation for what is forecast to be the same conditions for qualifying later on this afternoon.
Initially, it was Clutton who once again set the pace in the Enduro machine, but as the session wore on the times started to tumble as the track got slightly drier. For a significant chunk of the second 60-minute session, it was Yelmer Buurman who made use of the improving conditions to move the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the top of the times.
As the chequered flag came out, it appeared the Dutchman’s time wouldn’t be beaten, but Scott Malvern put the hammer down on his final lap to pull 0.301sec clear in the eye-catching grey and blue Porsche 911 GT3 R.
His lap was enough to clear Phil Keen, who also put in a late charge in the WPI Lamborghini to finish the session in second – 0.058sec faster than Buurman.
Balon and Mitchell finished fourth in the Barwell Huracán, two seconds behind the top three. The two Aston Martins took fifth and sixth, Oman Racing Team pipping Beechdean AMR to the better position.
The #63 Lamborghini of Lind and Machitski took seventh, 0.542sec ahead of Greg Caton in the returning G-Cat Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Paddock Motorsport and Enduro Motorsport rounded out the top ten, the two crews not quite showing the same pace as they did in FP1.
Will Burns put in the best lap of the session in GT4 to move Century Motorsport back up to the sharp-end of the secondary class, just edging out the #2 Team Rocket RJN McLaren, Kell and Collard putting in another strong showing in their new McLaren 570S.
Third went to the Assetto Motorsport Ginetta G56, both Charlie Robertson and Mark Sansom putting in strong times in the wet in the new-for-2021 machine, their times getting them ahead of the #3 and #4 Team Rocket RJN entries – that team showing great pace around Snetterton.
Of note further down the class, the Toyota Supra of McKenna and John Ferguson ended the session in 10th – the latter running most of the session to get him comfortable in the tricky conditions.
It could have been ninth though, they finished less than a tenth behind Chris Salkeld’s #9 Century BMW M4 GT4, but more than one second ahead of Matt Topham in the Newbridge Aston.
In contrast to recent rounds, the two sessions went off without incident as the teams took a more cautious approach to proceedings. Only a few brief yellow flags interrupted proceedings, with no stoppages at all.
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