Tom Gamble and Sandy Mitchell topped the first two sessions of the British GT Championship’s third round of 2024 at Donington Park, in a pair of sessions that showcased just how evenly matched the field is now, as the Optimum driver prevailed in Free Practice before Mitchell prevailed for Barwell in Pre-Qualifying. 


There was no predicting who would end up on top in GT4 with Charlie Robertson prevailing in the first session for Century Motorsport, before Jamie Day restored some sort of familiarity with top spot for Forsetti Motorsport in Pre-Qualifying. 

Free Practice One

Gamble ended up top of the first session on Saturday as blue skies and sunshine made what could well be a bit a rare appearance at Donington Park, if the forecast for Sunday’s race day is to be believed.

Early doors it was Ricky Collard, in the #63 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo2, who set the early pace but it was a close run thing with Phil Keen also going well for 2 Seas Motorsport.

There wasn’t much chance for their little back-and-forth to progress as there was a brief stoppage to recover Mark Radcliffe – racing the Optimum Mclaren while recovering from broken ribs after his Silverstone crash – from the gravel trap at the Chicane.

No harm done, there were no further interruptions for the remaining 40 minutes which allowed teams to get cracking with setting laps and perhaps getting early thoughts in for strategies ahead of tomorrow’s second three-hour race of the season. 

That wasn’t at the detriment of times, with Hugo Cook moving up to second for a time in his J&S Racing Audi R8 LMS before a driveshaft failure cut short his running. 

Ahead went Sandy Mitchell, who was flying in the second Barwell Huracán, and his time of 1m26.209sec seemed as though it wasn’t going to be touched – especially with Ian Loggie taking control of the 2 Seas Mercedes-AMG GT3 from Keen – but he didn’t count for Tom Gamble.

With gravel scraped out of Optimum’s 720S GT3, Gamble took over and started charging up the order into the middle of the top 10 and then points higher as he bettered Mitchell’s benchmark time by the finest of margins – 0.010sec the difference between them come the chequered flag. 

Loggie & Keen were 0.134sec off the back of the Lamborghini in an early hint at what could be a very competitive qualifying session later on today. 

Mercedes proved to be the marque to have, with Maxi Götz taking fourth for he and Kevin Tse in the second 2 Seas entry, while Callum Macleod ensured he and Mike Price continued their positive progress in the Greystone GT car by slotting into fifth, 0.346sec off the overall pace.

Sam Neary left it late to swoop into the fast 10, his 1m26.627sec squeezed Team Abba Racing’s green machine ahead of Ricky & dad Rob Collard by 0.021sec. 

Cook & Sacha Kakad finished eighth, having lost time with their aforementioned issue. They still finished ahead of Garage 59’s Marcus Clutton & Morgan Tillbrook, while Raffaele Marciello & John Ferguson rounded out the top 10.

Things were equally variable in GT4, where the top spot eventually went to Century Motorsport’s Charlie Robertson in the BMW M4 GT4.

In the first stages it was Dan Vaughan who was setting the pace in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK GR Supra with Matt Nicoll-Jones nibbling at his heels in the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang. 

Moving up into third, for a time, were Mikey Porter and Jamie Day in the Forsetti Aston Martin Vantage. 

As the session wound on, that order started to shake up with Jack Brown powering up to the front in the Optimum McLaren Artura to take away the top spot. Such was the tightness of the session, he ended up third at the chequered flag by less than a tenth of a session. 

First it was Robertson, with a 1m34.058sec, and then 0.018sec behind it was Seb Morris who is really ringing the neck of the Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4. He squeezed into second by 0.043sec. 

There was a slight gap – only a quarter of a second mind – to Vaughan and team-mate Kavi Jundu in fourth, with Day & Porter rounding out the top five. 

Such was the closeness in times, you had to go down to 10th to find the last car that was within a second of the class benchmark – which was Marc Warren & Will Orton in the second of the Forsetti cars. 


Not content with finishing as the bridesmaid in Free Practice, Sandy Mitchell went one better as he used an end-of-session qualifying simulation to storm to the fastest time of the weekend to date and put Barwell on top coming into what is set to be a thriller of a qualifying session. 

Indeed, the Scot was on the pace right from the opening laps as he continues to demonstrate how basically the Huracán is a second home at this point. 

But he wasn’t up top for long as a red flag – to recover the J&S Audi which had broken down at pit exit following a driveshaft change – allowed teams to pit and regroup and go flying out the traps once the track went green again after an eight-minute interruption. Like in FP, it was Tom Gamble who set the pace in the Optimum McLaren with Mark Smith – who drives alongside Martin Plowman in the Paddock 720S – and Lewis Plato in the Century BMW M4 GT3. 

There was a lot of changing though, with Silverstone 500 winner Adam Smalley and Ricky Collard all rotating through the top spot as the Pros looked to get their eyes in ahead of what some have hinted could be a wet qualifying session. 

Via a couple of Full Course Yellows – nothing major, just cars exploring the Donington gravel – the closing 10 minutes began with Raffaele Marciello on top for RAM Racing and Sam Neary slotting himself into second for Abba. 

By the time the chequered flag fell, it was all change as Mitchell powered himself to a 1m25.830sec to leave the field behind trailing in his wake. Götz got close in the 2 Seas Mercedes, but he was 0.112sec down. 

A last lap blast gave Smalley third, slotting himself ahead of Loggie & Keen’s AMG. A decision to swap drivers at the end meant John Ferguson couldn’t improve on Marciello’s benchmark, leaving the pair in fifth – ahead of Sam & father Richard Neary. 

It was father and sons in seventh, with Ricky & Rob Collard 0.107sec ahead of defending champ Dan Harper, in the BMW he shares with Michael Johnston. 

Macleod and Price took ninth, with Radcliffe and Gamble rounding out the top 10 with the former turning the majority of the laps as the session drew to its end. 

GT4 proved constantly changeable too, as the secondary class put on a demonstration of how competitive it will also be come the 4pm qualifying session. 

Much like in GT3, it was an ever-changing state of flux at the top of the times, with some drivers punching up to the front of the times – notably Matt Cowley who set the time for a while in the Paddock Mercedes-AMG GT4. 

Times were so fluid, that everyone had a go at the top – or so it seemed – but it was the #56 DTO Motorsport Ginetta G56 of Stuart Middleton which had a strong hold on the times for a good chunk of the session before Jack Brown powered his Artura up to the top just before the halfway mark. 

His time, a 1m34.024sec, looked too good to beat but if anything has been proven this season in British motorsport its that Forsetti Motorsport’s drivers are always on it. If they can set a quick lap, they’ll not ask twice and that’s exactly what Jamie Day did as he stormed the black-and-green Vantage to the fastest time by 0.171sec. 

Meakin finished second with Jack Brown, who were the meat in a Forsetti sandwich as Will Orton powered the black-and-yellow Aston up to third – 0.031sec ahead of Seb Morris in the Team Parker entry. 

McLarens took fifth and sixth with Blake Angliss and Alex Walker prevailing for Paddock ahead of RACE LAB’s Sai Sanjay & Callum Davies. 

Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones took Mustang bragging honours in seventh, despite needing to be recovered back to the pits at the same time as the J&S Racing Audi GT3 broke down, with Gordie Mutch sticking the Mahiki Racing Lotus Emira in eighth in a morning that’s been pretty tricky for the Lotus squad. 


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