In the two 15 minute qualification sessions ahead of bank holiday Monday’s pair of one-hour British GT races from Oulton Park, Benji Hetherington set the fastest time in qualifying one, and Allan Simonsen topped the second session.
The first session was marred by a prolonged stoppage for a red flag, when the United Autosports McLaren of Roger Wills had to be recovered from the tyre barriers on the opening lap of qualifying. In addition, in a separate incident on the same lap, Matt Smith’s Redgate Lifetime Ginetta G50 went off at Druids Corner, which added to the red flag stoppage time.
Once proceedings restarted, it was Hetherington setting the pace with a 1:37.098 in the Fortec Mercedes SLS, which bested Jay Palmer in the Vita4one Ferrari by 0.167 seconds. Ahmad Al Harthy had been the early pace setter in qualifying one, but was unable to improve on his 1:37.338 time in the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche, to get back to the top of the leader-board. Starting alongside Al Harthy will be the Jon Minshaw Trackspeed 997GT3, which was a mere two-hundredths behind.
On the third row of the grid for the first one-hour race on Monday will be MTech’s Derek Johnston and the JRM Nissan of Jodie Fannin. It’s then the McLaren of David Jones and the Audi R8 LMS of Mark Patterson on row four. Rounding out the top ten, Zak Brown’s United Autosports McLaren will start ninth ahead of the LNT Ginetta G55 of Richard Sykes.
Starting from the front of the GT4 grid will be the Complete Racing Aston Martin GT4 of Steve Chaplin, that scored a debut time of 1:46.715 in the 15 minute session. The Alex Osborne APO Sport Ginetta was the next closest competitor and will start alongside Chaplin after posting a time of 1:47.749
In the second qualifying session, Allan Simonsen set a blistering pace to top the timing sheets in his Rosso Verde Ferrari 458 Italia. Through the early stages of the session, Simonsen, Nick Tandy in the Trackspeed Porsche, Jonny Adam in the Beechdean Aston Martin and Matt Griffin in the MTech Ferrari traded pole position, with mere hundredths between them. Then with half of the session complete, Simonsen blasted to the front with a half-second improvemnt of his previous best, with a 1:34.589.
Although Tandy improved to get within three-tenths of the leader, the Porsche works driver had to settle for second place, ahead of Adam who was able to keep Griffin at bay. With a time of 1:35.032, Richard Westbrook’s Trackspeed Porsche will start the second round of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship in fifth position, in front of the Matteo Bobbi Vita4one Ferrari and Matt Bell United Autosports Audi. Alongside Bell will be the 2012 spec PGF Kinfaun Aston Martin Vantage of John Gaw.
On the fifth row of the grid for the rolling start of the one-hour race at Oulton park will be Oliver Bryant’s Ecurie Ecosse BMW Z4 and Phil Keen’s Trackspeed Porsche 997, which posted times of 1:35.584 and 1:35.616 respectively.
In GT4, Declan Jones set a 1:44.729 to head the timings, beating the complete Aston Martin of Tom Wilson by nearly three-seconds.