Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson have dominated the GT4 qualifying sessions as they stole both pole position slots for Monday’s two races. This is the PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport pairings second and third consecutive pole positions of the 2016 season.
Graham Johnson was first up in the Am Class drivers qualifying session but didn’t have things going the way he wanted as Jack Bartholomew in the Beachdean Aston Martin bumped the Ginetta down into second after the first flying lap runs. However, the Ginetta driver hit back with a faster lap time of 1:43.866 to claim pole back.
A red flag terminated the session with just three minutes remaining of the session. When the action resumed there were only a few improvements made, Jack Bartholomew couldn’t improve to take the pole position from Johnson. Bartholomew settled for second ahead of Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed in their Ginetta G55.
Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse’s Sandy Mitchell set the outright fastest first sector of anyone in the closing stages but aborted the lap after coming across a lot of traffic. He starts the opening race from fourth in the GT4 field. Next on the timing screens was Century Motorsport’s Sean Byrne who was one of few to improve after the red flag interrupted the session.
William Phillips aboard the RCIB Racing Ginetta G55 ended the session in sixth place, he was the reason for the red flag as he clipped a tyre wall and it required some repairs to make it safe for the other competitors. Anna Walewska in the second of the Century Motorsport run Ginetta G55s made it five Ginettas within the top seven.
Matthew Graham in the Macmillan Racing Aston Martin finished in eighth place. Aaron Mason made his debut in the championship during the session finishing in ninth ahead of Kieran Griffin.
The Pro session for the GT4 field was a little more straightforward for Robinson as he was never topped after the first set of flying laps. Ciaran Haggerty aboard the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren initially challenged but was unable to beat Robinson. The PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport driver set two lap times that were fast enough for pole position. The first of the two lap times was 1:43.108 which was the quickest of all.
By the end of the session it was Scott Malvern who came closest to snatching pole position. The Simpson Motorsport Ginetta sustained damage in a freak accident during FP2 which left the crew with a race against time to get the car out to qualify. They had the car repaired just in time for co-driver Nick Jones to complete an installation lap during the previous Am class drivers qualifying session before Scott Malvern was sent out in the Pro session. Early in the session Malvern had his fastest time, that would have placed him in second removed due to not respecting track limits. However, the former Formula Ford champion managed to reclaim his front row start in the final moments of the session after posting a quick time.
This bumped Ciaran Haggerty down to third by just a little more than half of a tenth. Matthew George in the Generation AMR SuperRacing Aston Martin was only 0.017 seconds further back down in fourth place.
Century Motorsport’s Nathan Freke had shown pace in FP1 that should’ve seen him being a pole position contender but he was only able to manage to set a quick enough lap time to take fifth place. JWBird Motorsport’s Jake Giddings in their Aston Martin V8 Vantage was only able to claim sixth.
Jack Mitchell in the Macmillan Racing Aston Martin ended the session in seventh, just 1.2 seconds shy of pole position. Ebor GT’s Abbie Eaton took eighth in her Maserati MC GranTurismo.
The British GT Championship will return to Oulton Park on Monday for its traditional two one-hour long bank holiday races.
© Fay Tilley 29th May 2016.