Marcus Clutton put Garage 59 on top in a wet opening practice session for the British GT Championship, with Sandy Mitchell waiting until the chequered flag came out to set the fastest time of the day so far in Pre-Qualifying for Barwell Motorsport. 


In GT4, the returning Ginetta duo of Freddie Tomlinson and Stuart Middleton put the CMR Ginetta G56 GT4 on top in FP1 before Gordie Mutch ensured variety was key by putting the Mahiki Racing Lotus Emira on top in a frantic second session.

Free Practice One

Early morning rain faded to drizzle and a frigid cold wind but it meant it was a bit of a disjointed start to the day with no one really wanting to push things too hard with even more wet weather forecast to hit Sunday’s three-hour race. 

When the action got underway, it was a steady start rather than a roaring start, with teams splitting themselves into one of two camps – putting in a mini-stint to see how the car felt or the Pro got in, did a lap, and elected to let the Am take some of the calmer running early doors.

The pacesetters, obviously, were the cars that elected to give it some speed early doors and for a time it was a Century Motorsport 1-2 with debutant Dries Vanthoor – sharing with Darren Leung – ahead of the fellow BMW M4 GT3 racer Dan Harper, who is with Michael Johnston with Leung and Harper both looking to defend their Silverstone 500 win from last year with different co-drivers.

That didn’t stay for too long, with 2 Seas Motorsport’s Maxi Götz flying up the order in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo before being bettered by the guesting Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 Evo of Fran Rueda.

If anything, that fired up Götz who regained his top spot before trading places a few times with Garage 59’s Marcus Clutton. The pair swapped a few times before Clutton prevailed in the McLaren – a 2m06.079sec more than seven-tenths clear of the German’s benchmark.

Behind, it was the second of the 2 Seas Motorsport entries with Phil Keen powering up to third but nearly three seconds down on the leading pair – perhaps not quite catching what Matt Cowley explained was a brief window for slicks – four-tenths further back was Jonny Adam in the newly-face-lifted Blackthorn Aston Martin Vantage.

Callum Macleod’s early pace in the Greystone GT Mercedes put him fifth, 0.061sec ahead of Rueda’s eventual best time. 

Despite their early pace, BMWs were slightly further down the order come the flag with the third Century BMW of Lewis Plato and Carl Cavers ending up fastest in seventh – ahead of the Beechdean Aston of Jess Hawkins. 

Vanthoor took ninth, with RAM Racing’s BMW M4 GT3 of John Ferguson and Raffaele Marciello rounding out the top 10 in a mega GT3 category which has already lost one entry – the #2 Team RJN McLaren of Alex Buncombe and Simon Watts having to withdraw after the latter had a crash in Friday testing. 

In GT4 it was the CMR Ginetta G56 GT4 of Freddie Tomlinson and Stuart Middleton making their return to the championship who topped the times by 0.110sec – the only Ginetta out in that session after CWS Racing elected to work on the set-up on its G56. 

There was plenty of variety at the sharp-end of the field with Jack Brown & Zac Meakin second in their Optimum McLaren Artura, a tenth clear of Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones in their Ford Mustang which has been crossing Europe in recent weeks – the Academy car also racing in the GT4 European Series.

Will Orton put the Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin in fourth – top of the Pro/Am standings – with second in Pro/Am just behind, that’s Ian Duggan and Gordie Mutch in the Mahiki Racing Lotus Emira. 


If the morning session was a case of getting round and seeing what the conditions were like, Saturday afternoon’s Pre-Qualifying hour was when the speed really came up a level with the morning drizzle pretty much coming to an end and the track actually drying out for a substantial amount of time. 

At the start of the lunch session, it was almost a repeat of FP1 with Maxi Götz and Marcus Clutton doing battle at the top of the times, with Fran Rueda and Dan Harper – in the #14 Century Motorsport BMW – all adding into that mix. With the track drying, those four didn’t stay in their own little bubble, with both Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2s pushing the benchmark consistently down. 

Times remained relatively steady until a mid-session red flag – to recover Erik Evans’ Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang which had broken down on the Hangar Straight – and with that seven minute interruption giving teams time to tune set-ups for qualifying later on, times dropped rapidly. 

Making the biggest move was Tom Gamble who put a few hot laps in behind the wheel of the Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 to power himself close to breaking the two-minute barrier with a 2m00.436sec.

He was sat pretty handily at the top for quite a time, with the squabbling seeming to consist of who could be best of the rest behind the orange machine with Phil Keen, Dries Vanthoor and Raffaele Marciello all trading times at the top. 

Things settled for about 15 minutes and it was within the final five minutes that things started to jump around again with Jonny Adam storming up to first in the Blackthorn Vantage before Euan Hankey – in a RACE LAB McLaren that had been in the garage for 50 minutes with a wheel bearing issue – stormed up with a 1m58.501sec in the closing minutes.

You’d have thought that would have settled it, but from out of nowhere Mitchell rocketed the #78 Barwell Huracán to a 1m57.919sec – an omen to how qualifying might unfold?

Second was Hankey & Lucky Khera, with Gamble third. Phil Keen eventually settled into fourth – with team-mate Ian Loggie unable to move up in the D2-liveried 2 Seas Mercedes. Meanwhile, Shaun Balfe put in a charge to put in the Garage 59 McLaren into fifth – two-tenths ahead of Jonny Adam.

Harper took the spoils as best of the BMWs in seventh, with Götz in eighth, while Jann Mardenborough and Darren Leung rounded out the top 10 for Team RJN and Century Motorsport respectively. 

GT4 proved just as changeable with Lotus, Aston Martin and Ginetta represented up the top of the class but with no one really marking themselves out as an out-and-out favourite to snatch pole for the three-hour race. 

Eventually, after constant changing, it was Gordie Mutch who powered his way clear in the Mahiki Lotus Emira but only by 0.098sec as the Forsetti Astons – which were so strong at Oulton Park – ensured the Scot didn’t have things his own way – Day finishing in the runner up spot, a few tenths ahead of the Toyota Supra of Dan Vaughan which seemed to have found a good groove in Pre-Quali.

Optimum’s Meakin & Brown represented McLaren honours with fourth, 0.051sec quicker than the CMR Ginetta which topped the first session. 

Breakell Racing continued to find its feet in British GT with sixth for Harley Haughton in the Mercedes-AMG GT4, who beat out Seb Morris and Charles Dawson – pacesetters in last weekend’s GT Cup opener – in their Team Parker Racing Mercedes.


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