In the 30 minute qualifying session, ahead of tomorrow’s two-hour Avon Tyres British GT finale at Donington Park, Joe Osborne put the Optimum BMW in pole position. Starting in the Z4, Osborne handed over to Mowle during a red flag period to clear the BMW of Piers Johnson that had careered of the final corner and into the wall approaching pit entry.
Once Mowle had completed his mandatory three-laps, he handed back to Osborne for a final attack on the 2.4 mile circuit with quarter of an hour left. With five-minutes remaining on the clock, the former European GT4 Champion found himself with a clear track, and posted a 1:28.289 to march into pole position. Despite attacks on his placing by BMWs, Porsches and Ferrari’s, no one was able to match Osborne’s pace and best his time.
“When the stars align, and the car’s perfect, you hook up a good lap and the traffic helps you out, it shows what the car’s capable of.” Osborne told Racing.GT at the end of the session. “It’s not easy. We were here last week and put in a serious amount of mileage. The team put in a lot of work, so it’s not as easy as it may look from the outside. The team take a lot of credit for today, and rightly so.”
Leaving until the closing five-minutes to post a competitive time was Richard Westbrook in the Trackspeed Porsche. For most of the session, co-driver Gregor Fisken had been behind the wheel before the closing minutes, when he handed over to Westbrook for a banzai attack on the 12 corners of Donington. His first flying lap was enough to place him third. On his next outing, Westbrook wrung the neck of the 997GT3 to post a time of 1:28.739 to put the No.32 Porsche on the front-row. “I’m really satisfied as I believe I got the maximum out of the car.” Westbrook said. “They were two identical laps, and that was it for me and this car, there was nothing more.”
Championship title contender Oliver Bryant put the Ecurie Ecosse in a strong position for tomorrow’s grand finale. With a lap time of 1:28.745, the BMW Z4 of Attard and Bryant will start in third position, alongside the Gary Eastwood and Rob Barff Ferrari. At one point during the session, Barff was looking set to put the FF Corse 458 Italia on the front-row, but the late attack by Westbrook’s Porsche and Bryant’s BMW sent him back to fourth.
Similarly to Bryant, Trackspeed’s Nick Tandy was looking at a potential slot on the front of the grid. With eight-minutes to go, the Porsche works driver was placed in provisional pole-position with a time of 1:28.944. However, as the time whittled down, first became second, then third, then fourth and finally fifth once the chequered flag flew. British GT Championship points leader Andrew Howard will start the Beechdean Aston Martin Vantage on the third row of the grid in sixth, thank to team-mate Johnny Adam’s 1:28.962 lap.
In seventh for tomorrow’s rolling start will be Matt Bell and Mark Patterson’s United Autosports Audi R8. Bell posted a 1:29.060, that edged out the Trackspeed Porsche of Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw by one-hundredth. AF Corse’s Aaron Scott and John Dhillon placed their Ferrari in ninth, just ahead of the Team LNT Ginetta of Rob Smith and Mike Simpson.
In GT4, former British GT Champion Bradley Ellis secured the No.1 spot for the Team Parker Racing Ginetta. Sharing with Adrian Barwick, Radical’s regular Ellis posted a lap time of 1:37.103 to take the class pole by eight-tenths. “I think we done a solid job.” Ellis shared with Racing.GT. “We stuck to our plan. The red flag hindered it a little bit, but the car felt nice. We haven’t had to make massive setup changes at all today really, since we put it down on the ground this morning, it’s been pretty much the same.”
Second in GT4 qualifying was class points leaders Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr in their G50 Ginetta. They bested series debutantes, Richie Stanaway and Harry Whale in their Aston Martin GT4, who posted a lap of 1:38.020.
The action tomorrow kicks off at 1:15pm, with live coverage on MotorsTV, and post race analysis here on Racing.GT soon afterwards.