Barwell Motorsport demonstrated the power of the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2 as Sandy Mitchell & Alex Martin stormed to pole position at Donington Park, prevailing in a close battle with team-mates Rob & Ricky Collard in a British GT qualifying session where the full 20-car field was split by just 2.555sec.


In GT4, it was a last lap flyer by Stuart Middleton in the first part of qualifying set up DTO Motorsport to take a well-earned pole position on its debut with the Ginetta G56 GT4 Evo.


If Free Practice & Pre-Qualifying were a guide, there was no telling who was going to be on pole for British GT’s second three-hour round of the season with teams running Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini and McLaren all in with a chance of walking away with a pole that might not be the most crucial, but gives crews the best chance of getting through the first lap without difficulty. 

That said, Barwell had a plan and seemed as though they were executing it from the very word go. As the first flying laps starting to be logged, it was Mark Radcliffe and Richard Neary who set the early pace for Optimum Motorsport & Team Abba Racing respectively but quickly it was Rob Collard and then Alex Martin who locked out the top two places. 

There were some disruptions to that order, with Neary and Tillbrook able to best Martin but not get close to Collard’s provisional best. A lap later and Martin had leaped ahead of Collard having found the extra tenths he needed, but then so did Collard and a lap of 1m26.051sec ended the first part of qualifying with Collard handing over to son Ricky with almost two-tenths over Martin and Mitchell. 

A sign of how close qualifying was shaping up was highlighted by the fact that just 1.597sec separated all 20 Ams in the first part of qualifying, which slimmed down to just over a second if you ignored the Barwell Huracáns.

Come the Pro session and a man who was trying his best to overcome the advantage Martin & Rob Collard had built up was Tom Gamble, who set the fastest lap of the session early on as he looked to try and get a good enough advantage over Ricky and Mitchell. 

But Mitchell wasn’t to be denied and quickly put in a combined time which ensured he and Martin would be starting on the front row with Ricky Collard 0.295sec further back. However, as the 10 minutes ticked down, Collard was finding time and despite Mitchell improving his own average down to 2m51.230sec it looked as though the father-and-son team could snatch it on the line.

Putting in a 1m25.048sec, it looked as though Collard had done it and just about squeezed ahead of Mitchell by a tenth. But then, a message on the timing screens – his lap had been deleted because of track limits and quickly he found himself back to second but still in a great position for he and father Rob come tomorrow’s 180-minute race.

The competition behind tried hard, but it wasn’t to be. The closest to spoiling the Lamborghini dominance at the top of the table was the Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 of Shaun Balfe and Adam Smalley. The Silverstone 500 winners set good laps in both sessions, but couldn’t do enough to rival the Barwell duo so will start third – two tenths ahead of Kevin Tse and Maxi Götz in the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Gamble’s efforts nabbed him fifth, and a great starting position for Mark Radcliffe tomorrow in the Optimum McLaren. They were fortunate – or Morgan Tillbrook & Marcus Clutton were unlucky – to hold the position as the latter duo will start their McLaren sixth, just 0.003sec off the pace.

A storming run for Raffaele Marciello helped boost RAM Racing’s combined time as he’ll start seventh alongside John Ferguson in their BMW M4 GT3, sharing a row with Mark Smith and Martin Plowman – the pair putting in a good performance in the Paddock Motorsport 720S.

Two three-pointed stars round out the top 10, with Richard & Sam Neary qualifying 0.001sec ahead of Ian Loggie & Phil Keen.


For the longest of times, it seemed as though pole would be won by the thinnest of margins as Jack Brown, Stuart Middleton, Will Moore and Alex Walker were covered by just 0.091sec at the top of the order having been pretty much inseparable in the first part of qualifying. 

Middleton, in the DTO Ginetta, wasn’t going to have that though and as others started to back off and think about heading into the pits to give their co-drivers an early start on preparations for the second part of qualifying, the G56 racer was digging deep. 

Purple sectors started appearing and by the time the clock finally stopped, Middleton was two tenths ahead of everyone else with a lap of 1m33.495sec leaving the rest of the field wondering where he’d managed to find the extra speed that appeared to be eluding everyone else.

Handing the car over to Freddie Tomlinson, it appeared as though it was pretty basic to take pole – put in a good enough lap and the Ginetta would be on pole in the first weekend of DTO running an example of the Yorkshire racer.

That, pretty much, is what Tomlinson did. His lap of 1m33.724sec combined for a 3m07.219sec which looked pretty solid. In the pits, though, the DTO squad were no doubt biting their nails as Zac Meakin started to eat into the deficit to the lead and got within 0.061sec as he moved onto his final lap.

A personal best first sector looked as though the Optimum Artura would be vaulting onto a second pole in succession, but he couldn’t hook up the final sectors and fell agonisingly short of improving his time and moving to the other side of the front-row. 

Third went to Seb Morris and Charles Dawson, the first of the Pro-Am crews in what was easily a best-of-the-season qualifying session for Dawson as he powered the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 to seventh in his session before Morris put in the fastest lap of GT4 qualifying to power up to third – 0.223sec off pole. 

Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones demonstrated the increasing pace and reliability of the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang by taking fourth – 0.065sec down on Team Parker. 

Behind them, Forsetti Motorsport’s Jamie Day & Mikey Porter made it a fifth manufacturer in the top five as the former shut out a late push from Blake Angliss to ensure the Aston Martin prevailed over the Paddock McLaren Artura. 

Erik Evans & Marco Signoretti ensured a good day was had by Academy as they took seventh ahead of RAM Racing’s Luca Hopkinson & Harry George.

Sunday’s three-hour race kicks off at 1pm local time (2pm in Europe) and you’ll be able to watch all the coverage live on GT REPORT!


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