In the 45 minute qualifying session for the Silverstone 500, Oliver Bryant secured pole position for the Ecurie Ecosse BMW, the first ever in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.
After taking over the helm of the Z4 from his team-mate Marco Attard, Bryant went out on a fresh set of tyres late in the session to post his pole winning time of 2:02.600. Also leaving it until the closing stages of qualifying to post a front-row time was Nick Tandy. Once Trackspeed’s Ashburn had finished his mandatory laps in the car, Tandy took to the driving seat to set a 2:02.732 with three-minutes of the session remaining.
Leaving it even later than Tandy, the sister Trackspeed Porsche of Gregor Fisken and Richard Westbrook left it until the penultimate lap of qualifying to set a time of 2:02.802 to claim third on the grid for the three-hour race on the Arena circuit. Making it an all Trackspeed second-row, Phil Keen posted a 2:02.812 with six minutes remaining. At one point the Keen and Jon Minshaw car was at the top of the timings, but as qualifying progressed they found themselves falling further down the order. Then, with fresh rubber, Keen made one final attack of the 3.6 mile circuit to secure what would be fourth position once proceedings had drawn to a close.
The 888 Optimum BMW of Joe Osborne and Lee Mowle will start the Silverstone 500 from fifth position. Osborne had looked set to post a time that would challenge for the lead, as he lit up the timing screens with personal bests, but a small mistake in the final section of the circuit, meant the pair had to settle for a 2:02.884. “I only had one chance to set a hot lap on the tyres, but I made a mistake in the final sector, which really cost us time.” Osborne told Racing.GT.
With five minutes of the session remaining, Matteo Bobbi and Jay Palmer were sitting in third place on a 2:02.920, but then the late charges by Tandy, Westbrook and Osborne saw the Vita4one Ferrari 458 drop to sixth in the timings. The second Optimum 888 BMW Z4 of Dan Brown and Steve Tandy set a 2:03.220 to take seventh position, ahead of the Allan Simonsen and Hector Lester Rosso Verde Ferrari, who were a further three-hundredths adrift.
Leading the Aston Martin charge in the longest race of the British GT season will be the Jonny Adam and Andrew Howard Beechdean Vantage. Like most of the top runners in qualifying, Adam left it until his final handful of laps to set a time of 2:03.277. Likewise, the Fortec pairing of Jon Minshaw and Benji Hetherington will start the three hour race as the top placed Mercedes, having posted a 2:03.417.
In GT4, it was the guest entry of Van Der Ende and Bernard van Oranje setting the pace in their Ekris BMW M3 GT4. With a time of 2:14.989, they beat British GT regulars Matt Smith and Dan Eagling in their Redgate Lifetime Ginetta G50 by two-tenths, who edged out the Chevrolet Camaro SS of Luc Braams and Duncan Huisman. The Chevrolet that is debuting in the Championship as another guest entry set a time of 2:15.305, which pipped the Ekris BMW of Jan Joris Verheul and PC Van Orange to third in class.
The three-hour race from Silverstone will see a record-breaking 48 cars take to the grid, with 34 GT3 and 14 GT4 cars fighting it out for 150% points. The action starts at 1:00pm Sunday, with live coverage on MotorsTV from 12:30pm.