Sam & Richard Neary have claimed pole for the Silverstone 500 for Team Abba Racing as bad weather cancelled the qualifying session for the Intelligent Money British GT Championship, with the grid instead set by the combined times for each driver from lunchtime’s Free Practice Two session.
For the GT4 category, which never even turned a wheel before the session was axed, Team Parker Racing’s Zac Meakin and Dan Vaughan will take the pole in their Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS ClubSport.
Before we get to the grid, a brief summary of the qualifying session. The Ams were released from the pits for the first time, and there was a tangle between Mark Smith in the #27 McLaren 720S GT3, and Andrew Gilbert in the Greystone GT McLaren. That led to a red flag, back to the pits, ready to go again.
The cars were then released again, and Andrew Howard had a spin coming out of Chapel, smashing the front end of the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage against the wall on the left-side. Thankfully it wasn’t too damaged, but proved that the conditions weren’t doing enough to get the session done.
A 10-minute delay became a 20-minute delay and eventually a cancellation as the rain proved unrelenting with the message going out that the times from FP2 – in a wet but not deluged session – would be used with each driver’s best lap combined to set the field.
With the combined times, Team Abba Racing took pole. Proof, if it were needed, that the Am is the key factor in setting a good combined time as Richard Neary’s 2m14.610sec gave the pair a combined best of 4m28.885sec – almost two-tenths clear of the #15 RAM Racing machine of John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello – despite the latter setting a 2m12.817sec.
In what proved to be a remarkably tight set of combined times, starting third will be Jules Gounon and Ian Loggie in the #1 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3, with a combined time of 4m29.060sec – just 0.002sec down on RAM’s efforts. Only another 0.007sec further back is the second of the 2 Seas machines, with James Cottingham and Jonny Adam ensuring a Mercedes 1-2-3-4 with their 4m29.067sec.
Despite his off in qualifying, some silver-lining for Howard is that he and Ross Gunn will start the Beechdean Aston in fifth, with a 4m29.496sec. Another half-second back is the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2, Sandy Mitchell and Shaun Balfe another decent chunk ahead of Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe and Ben Barnicoat.
Eighth, and a great starting position for their return to British GT, is Nick Jones and Scott Malvern in the Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (992), while McLarens round out the top ten with Garage 59 just pipping Optimum Motorsport.
Just outside the top ten, Greystone GT’s efforts in both practices came unstuck slightly when the times were combined with Callum Macleod and Mike Price starting their Mercedes-AMG GT3 in 11th, and lucky not to be further down as Mark Sansom & Will Tregurtha are 12th in their Barwell Lamborghini by just 0.022sec.
The secondary class didn’t even turn a wheel in the wet, but that won’t matter to Zac Meakin and Dan Vaughan as their combined quick run in FP2 gave them what turned out be pole by more than three seconds with a combined time of a cracking 4m45.661sec after the pair went all in during the session to set quick times in preparation for what – they thought – was in preparation for an all-out assault on the qualifying session.
What it turned out to be was a thriller of a combined time which left class rivals chasing shadows. Second, with a 4m48.726sec, was the Optimum Motorsport pairing of Charles Clark and Jack Brown – a good return on what had been a frustrating couple of days at the home of the British Grand Prix, after a gearbox replacement led to an electrical gremlin in the McLaren Artura.
Third, making it a third different manufacturer in the top three, is the R Racing Aston Martin of Seb Hopkins and Josh Miller – three tenths down on the Optimum Artura, but a tenth clear of the of the DTO Motorsport example of Aston Millar and Josh Rowledge.
Fifth went to the ever-rapid Ford Mustang of Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones which seems equally adept in the wet as the dry – surprising for what is a brute of an American muscle car. Nevertheless, it was enough to put more than three-quarters of a second on Raceway Motorsport’s Michael Crees and Thomas Holland – the pair, though, will be happy with the fact that they’re the Pro-Am pole car in their Ginetta G56.
Lewis Plato and Carl Cavers are next in their Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4, with a pair of Ginettas behind them in eighth and ninth – Freddie Tomlinson/Stuart Middleton and Joe Wheeler/Esmee Hawkey in those cars for Raceway and Toro Verde GT respectively. 10th was rounded out by Oulton Park race two winners Tom Wrigley and Ian Gough in the RACE LAB Artura.
Two cars were caught out by the need to use FP2 times to set the qualifying grid as both Simpson Motorsport and the Michael Johnston/Chris Salkeld Century Motorsport BMWs are the back of grid. For Simpson, Vasily Vladikin didn’t set a time, while for Century, the car didn’t set a time during the session.
Rounding out the field was the Harry George & Darren Burke Enduro Motorsport McLaren Artura, which had an engine failure in FP1.
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