Barwell Motorsport dominated the opening British GT Championship qualifying session of 2024 as Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell took pole positions at Oulton Park in comprehensive fashion. 


In GT4, it proved to be Jamie’s Day as the Forsetti Motorsport racer powered his Aston Martin Vantage to the top for race one, while Seb Morris continued his rapid return to British GT for pole in race two.

Race One

The Am side of the entry – or the nominated Silver in GT4 – set the grid for what will be Easter Monday’s opening race and if you want chaos, and drama, the first GT3 qualifying session will have ticked every box in that regard.

With teams not electing to go out straight from the gun – to try and get themselves some space on what can be a tricky track to try and pass rivals when needed – it was imperative that there were no interruptions to make sure run plans weren’t thrown up in the air. However, if you read our coverage of Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying, you’d know that’s not exactly how the day has gone so far. 

Indeed, it was only five minutes in – with Alex Martin in the #78 Barwell Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 and Mark Radcliffe’s Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 occupying the top spots – when we had the only red flag of qualifying as Team ABBA Racing’s Richard Neary found himself in the barriers at Druids. 

It took a few minutes for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 to be extricated, and when the session went green again there was a mad scramble for all 17 entries – two down on the entry after issues for the #10 Blackthorn Aston in Practice and the Neary machine – to make sure they could get in their two mandatory flying laps and set a good time for the grid. 

For the longest time, it seemed as though pole was heading in the direction of Kevin Tse. The 2 Seas Motorsport driver was flying in his Mercedes-AMG GT3, despite the attentions of team-mate Ian Loggie who was 0.075sec down, and looked set to take a hard-earned pole.

However, Collard was flying in his Huracán and using every inch of the track to extract as much time as possible. His last lap was looking quick, and it proved to be quick as he pinched the top spot from Tse by 0.187sec with a 1m35.102sec.

Tse and Loggie finished second and third, with Martin fourth by just 0.090sec – 0.040sec ahead of Shaun Balfe who was flying back in the familiar surroundings of a McLaren, this the 720S GT3 Evo of Garage 59. 

Radcliffe joins him on the third row, not quite able to build on his early pace in the Optimum McLaren but holding off Michael Johnston who performed admirably in his first GT3 qualifying to take seventh ahead of Greystone GT’s Mike Price.

McLarens rounded out the top 10, with Chris Buncombe half-a-tenth ahead of Garage 59’s Morgan Tillbrook in the Team RJN 720S.

In GT4, it was a dominant session for Jamie Day as the Forsetti racer took pole for the new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 Evo by a mammoth 0.826sec. 

Hooking up everything portion of what can be a complex lap at Oulton Park, meant his 1m41.702sec was too much for the competition to handle. Behind, times were pretty tight for the final spot on the front row as Jack Brown, in the Optimum McLaren Artura, edged the second Forsetti Aston by 0.041sec to take the second spot. 

Behind, Callum Davies showcased the speed that made him a Group winner in GT Cup last year as he took fourth ahead of fellow GT Cup alum Charles Dawson. 

It was a Mercedes in sixth, the RAM Racing entry of Harry George with the fastest of the roaring 2024-edition Ford Mustang GT4s qualifying seventh through Erik Evans. 

Race Two

Why have one pole, when you can have two? Barwell’s Lamborghinis have been strong all weekend and Sandy Mitchell proved it once again as the 2020 champion – ironically with Rob Collard – put the hammer down and took pole by 0.101sec, something of a gulf compared to the super-slim margins we’ve seen in Qualifying so far. 

He didn’t quite have it all his own way, though, as Tom Gamble – sharing with Radcliffe in the Optimum McLaren – was really on the pace and was trading times with Mitchell over a handful of laps as the pair squabbled over pole. 

With no interruptions, it was all down to who could extract the most pace from the machinery underneath them, and it proved to be advantage Mitchell – his 1m32.777sec proving too much for Gamble. 

That said, breathing down their necks will be Phil Keen – the most successful driver in British GT history in terms of wins and ensured he and Loggie took a brace of third-place starts, which could be the hot seat to capitalise on any misfortune that befalls the front pair. 

While it’s not quite another pole, Rob’s son Ricky confirmed the Collards will be in a great position come Monday as Ricky used his last lap of the session to squeeze ahead of Garage 59’s Adam Smalley to stick the #63 on the second row.

Behind Smalley is Paddock Motorsport’s Martin Plowman, the team boss powering the black and pink McLaren 720S GT3 to sixth by 0.003sec ahead of Callum Macleod – capping a good session for Greystone GT.

Marcus Clutton secured another top 10 start for he and Morgan Tillbrook with eighth, with Alex Buncombe and Hugo Cook – the latter in the J&S Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo2 – rounding out the 10. 

GT4 qualifying for the second race proved much tighter, with Mikey Porter initially looking to emulate team-mate Day to do the double for Forsetti, but as the session reached the final minutes times started to drop. 

And leading that flurry of quick laps was Team Parker Racing’s Seb Morris – a British GT3 champion with Parker alongside Rick Parfitt in a Bentley Continental many moons ago – who put in what ultimately proved the winning time, a 1m41.532sec. 

It was close behind, with Zac Meakin 0.073sec back in the Optimum Artura. The pair were far and away quicker than the cars behind, with Thomas Holland best of the rest in the CWS Racing Ginetta G56 GT4 Evo – 0.013sec clear of Century Motorsport’s Charlie Robertson in the #71 BMW M4 GT4. 

Dan Vaughan added manufacturer variety to the top of the times in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra, he set the exact same time as Mahiki Racing’s Gordie Mutch in the Lotus Emira but with Vaughan setting it first, he’s fifth.

Seventh went to Luca Hopkinson, in the RAM Mercedes-AMG GT4 he shares with Harry George, with Porter ultimately gaining a starting position of eighth – a tenth ahead of Will Orton in the sister Vantage. 

The first race of the season starts at 10.50am UK time on Monday, with the second getting underway at 3.45pm UK. 


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