Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam took their first pole position of the season in the combined qualifying for the Silverstone 500, also their first with the Vantage GT3. Joining them on the front row were Ecurie Ecosse BMW pairing Marco Attard and Alexander Sims, with John Gaw and Phil Dryburgh in third for PFG-Kinfaun AMR. GT4 went to Century Ginetta pairing Rick Parfitt Jnr and Tom Oliphant.
The cars burst out onto the track for the first 15 minute session, but most did only two fast laps before deciding their tyres were cooked – leaving Adam top (2:01.358), Sims second a tenth back and Triple Eight’s Joe Osborne third, half a second in arears. The only late mover was M-Sport’s Steven Kane, bumping into sixth with the very last lap of the session, before adding a purple first sector after the flag had fallen, suggesting good pace in the Bentley for tomorrow. That will come as scant consolation for Generation Bentley Racing, whose Contintal GT3 caught fire and is unlikely to take any further part in the weekend.
With the pros out for the first session, it gave the gentlemen the chance to make all the difference in the second session. The two-lap grab-and-go pattern was once more in evidence, with Andrew Howard and Marco Attard mirroring their team mate’s antics by going to the top and staying there throughout the session. Phil Dryburgh was able to move his aggregate position to third early on, with Ahmad Al-Harthy able to add to Michael Caine’s efforts for fourth place. Lee Mowle ended fifth, with Jody Firth making a late move into sixth place, the best position for the Trackspeed #12 in a so far difficult 2014.
In GT4, the early pace setter was Dan Cammish, able to go a whole second faster than the closest competition – Team Parker team mate Bradley Ellis – in the first session, with a remarkable 2:12.567. However, come the second session, Barrie Baxter couldn’t match his team mate’s remarkable pace, and the Team Parker Porsche ended sixth. Best combination were Parfitt and Oliphant – having been fourth in P1 – with Beechdean’s Ross Wylie and Jake Giddings second, but more than a second behind on combined times.
“The am going second is really quite cool. We don’t get the light car normally, so it’s very cool. It’s nip-and-tuck. The Ferrari is still driving past us on the straights, and we’ve got more aero. The Bee-Em is fabulously nimble, it’s a wonderful little car. I think the BoP is really good, and the driver balance is really good. Doing four stints over three hours – as opposed to three in Blancpain – will make a huge difference when it comes to tyres. The Avon has come on so far – but even so, we’ll see drop off. You see that in any make of tyres. I don’t mind if it rains or doesn’t – I’m happy either way. She’s very forgiving in the rain! It’d be a shame for the fans if it rains though.”
“I think this is the first pole we’ve ever had with the GT3 car. The car felt really good. Andrew’s lap was incredible, to find that amount of time was special. But it’s a testament to the hard work over the winter, because I’ve gone two seconds quicker than last year’s time. We’ve done our homework, and it’s paying off. Tomorrow will be a good scrap – what’s good for us is no extra pitstop time. That’s exciting. It’s going to be warmer tomorrow, which caught us out last year, so we just need to be careful with the tyres. But then again, if it rains, we’re pretty confident.”
“I don’t know why, but we seem to struggle in practice, then nibble away and find a good solution in qualifying. From practice I couldn’t see where we’d find that pace but the guys found a great set up. It was my first lap I was fast, and then went outside the track limits so backed out of my second. These tyres are one lap wonders in qualifying, and that’s pretty fun! I think I was two and a half seconds faster than any other lap this weekend, and to get one lap and have to find that time, that’s cool.”
“It’s good to be here. It means Alexander’s strong, which we know, and I’m strong-ish. It’s just making sure we stay ahead of those around us – all the guys around us are fast. It’s nice to know the car has the pace. The team found a load of time, and it was totally different to drive between practice and qualifying and that’s great. It’s nice to be starting toward the front of the pack and not in amongst it so much – I learned that lesson last year! It gets very manic in the middle of that pack. It’s just good to get away from all that scrambling in the midfield.”
“I’m over the moon, just like I was at Rockingham – but that didn’t quite end the right way. This is the first test day I’ve been able to get to (with my TOCA commitments) and I think it benefitted me and Rick a lot. With new tyres, we both performed – we only did two laps each. I’m not concerned about the number of cars at all. This is the biggest track we’ve been to, it’s wide and there’s plenty of run off. As long as the GT3 cars aren’t stupid we’ll be fine.”
“It’s good to start on the GT4 front row. The Aston is quite good round here. I didn’t think I’d notice the difference having another couple of cars here but it’s surprising. It’s nice to have another Aston Martin here, and another Porsche, and finally the Toyota. It’ll make racing tomorrow more interesting!”