POLES FOR BEECHDEAN AMR & CENTURY IN BRITISH GT AT BRANDS HATCH
Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam rolled back the years to claim their first Intelligent Money British GT Championship pole position together since 2015 at Brands Hatch earlier today, while Century’s BMW shared by Will Burns and Gus Burton topped both GT4 sessions to seal an emphatic class pole.
Adam set the fastest time of all – 1m23.763s – to vault his Aston Martin from third to first after Howard initially qualified 0.176s behind Q1 pace-setter Michael Igoe. The WPI Lamborghini he shares with Phil Keen still starts on the front row after rebuffing Barwell’s Huracan shared by Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind.
Further back, Century claimed GT4 top spot by a combined 0.897s from Pro-Am pace-setters Mark Sansom and Charlie Robertson (Assetto Motorsport, Ginetta) whose aggregate time was just 0.013s faster than Academy’s Mustang shared by Matt Cowley and Will Moore.
GT3: THE (ICE) CREAM RISES TO THE TOP
Beechdean served notice of their intentions by topping FP2 and carried that form into qualifying where Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam’s combined efforts scooped pole by 0.189s.
Michael Igoe’s early flyer remained unbeaten throughout the first 10-minute session despite the rest of the field slowly whittling away his early advantage.
Leo Machitski was perhaps the most relentless in his pursuit – Barwell’s Lamborghini ultimately fell just 0.053s shy of the similar Huracan ahead – while late efforts from Howard and JRM’s Kelvin Fletcher ensured just 0.2s covered Q1’s top-four.
That effectively resulted in a pole shootout between Phil Keen, Dennis Lind, Adam and Martin Plowman after Adam Balon and Richard Neary ended Q1 0.4s and 0.5s adrift in fifth and sixth, respectively.
Adam had left it late to snatch FP2’s spoils from WPI earlier in the day but found his feet immediately when it mattered most by setting GT3’s benchmark on his first representative lap. Keen, by contrast, slipped to third behind Lind initially before restoring WPI’s place on the front row next time around. Less than a tenth separated the two Lamborghinis in the overall times.
A track limits infringement spoiled Plowman’s first run but he also regrouped to maintain the Bentley’s existing fourth place ahead of Barwell’s second Lamborghini driven by reigning champion Sandy Mitchell who all but matched Keen and Lind’s individual times.
Team Abba Racing also finished where they qualified in both sessions – sixth – courtesy of Richard and Sam Neary who also sealed Silver-Am’s first-ever class pole. They were just over a tenth quicker than reigning Pro-Am champions Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman in the first of RAM’s Mercedes-AMGs and newcomers Enduro Motorsport who ended Q2 second fastest overall thanks to Marcus Clutton.
Balfe’s McLaren driven by father/son duo Stewart and Lewis Proctor, and RAM’s other Mercedes-AMG completed the top-10.
GT4: BURNS AND BURTON A CLASS APART
Will Burns and Gus Burton scored an emphatic pole position for the opening race of 2021 after each guided the BMW to top spot in their respective qualifying sessions.
The Silver Cup crew backed up their strong pace from the morning’s free practice sessions to convincingly score Century’s first pole position since Spa-Francorchamps in 2019, as well as the first for an Evo-spec M4.
Burns took the wheel for the first session and pumped in an early time to set the pace, but was only marginally ahead of the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang in the hands of Matt Cowley.
Burns made the most of his fresh Pirelli tyres to retain a 0.150s advantage at the session’s conclusion as the top two forged a comfortable gap over the chasing pack.
As such the second half should have been a straight fight between the BMW and Mustang. Will Moore took over the Ford and pushed hard to close the gap but could do nothing about a terrific lap from Burton, who pulled the best part of a second clear after the first timed runs.
With Burns and Burton safe and dry, the real interest came from the fight for second. While Academy held on initially, Assetto Motorsport’s Charlie Robertson was a real threat. Building on the excellent early effort of his Am co-driver Mark Sansom, who set third fastest time in Q1, Robertson twice set lap times good enough to elevate the new Ginetta G56 within touching distance of Academy, only to have both efforts scrubbed for straying beyond track limits.
Undeterred, his final attempt was an absolute belter, going second fastest of all to steal a front-row grid slot from Academy and securing Pro-Am pole in the process.
John Ferguson and Scott McKenna will start tomorrow’s race from fourth aboard the Toyota Gazoo Racing GR Supra, with Chris Salkeld and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke lining up Century’s other BMW in fifth.
After a tricky start to the day, James Kell and Jordan Collard netted sixth on the grid in their Team Rocket RJN McLaren 570S, just ahead of Steller Motorsport’s Audi R8 driven by Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding.
Katie Milner and Harry Hayek start eighth in their RJN-run McLaren, the similar Balfe-run car of Ashley Marshall and Jack Brown lines up ninth, and Fox Motorsport’s 570S shared by Nick Halstead and Jamie Stanley rounds out the top-10.
An engine issue prevented Team Rocket RJN’s third McLaren from qualifying, but the car – complete with new engine – is expected to race tomorrow.