Parfitt Jnr and Keen share GT3 poles at Spa as Tregurtha and Osborne pace GT4
> Team Parker Bentley and Barwell Lamborghini on pole for Saturday’s two races
> HHC Ginetta and Tolman McLaren seal GT4 spoils
> Qualifying lap records tumble in both classes
> Qualifying Results: GT3 Q1 & Q2 | GT4 Q1 & Q2
British GT Championship rivals Rick Parfitt Jnr and Phil Keen claimed a GT3 pole position apiece earlier today to set up two intriguing hour-long races at Spa-Francorchamps tomorrow. Meanwhile, HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Tolman Motorsport’s Joe Osborne recorded the fastest times in their respective GT4 qualifying sessions.
GT3 Q1: PARFITT JNR STRIKES LATE TO BEAT MITCHELL
Rick Parfitt Jnr handed Team Parker Racing a crucial third pole position of the season, and first since Oulton Park, after a late banzai lap helped the #31 Bentley leapfrog Jack Mitchell’s Macmillan AMR Aston Martin. Jon Minshaw’s championship-leading Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini claimed third amongst a top-five featuring as many different manufacturers.
Parfitt Jnr set the early pace but was soon replaced by Mitchell whose Silver Cup-entered V12 Vantage carries more ballast in order to balance it against the Pro/Am crews. But while the Aston Martin went faster again on its second run, the Bentley's driver opted to back off and regroup ahead of one final effort. The result was Parfitt Jnr setting a blistering time of 2m20.690s to claim Race 1 pole by 0.376s.
Starting at the front could prove crucial to Parfitt Jnr and co-driver Seb Morris who must serve a 10s pitstop success penalty in tomorrow’s opening race as a result of winning at Silverstone last time out.
Meanwhile, Mitchell’s second flying lap remained good enough to seal Macmillan AMR’s second-straight front row start and third in four races, while Minshaw improved again on his final run to end up a second shy of Parfitt Jnr’s time.
Two race-by-race entries were next up, Piti Bhirombhakdi putting Kessel Racing’s Ferrari fourth ahead of Team WRT’s Audi driven by Alain Ferte. Team Parker Racing’s second Bentley of Ian Loggie rounded out the top-six.
Kornely Motorsport’s Kenneth Heyer was best of the Mercedes-AMG contingent in seventh, one place ahead of 2016 Spa race winner Mark Farmer in the first of TF Sport’s Aston Martins.
GT3 Q2: KEEN TAKES POLE WITH NEW BRITISH GT3 QUALIFYING RECORD
Having seen their championship rivals claim pole for tomorrow’s opening race, the pressure was on Minshaw’s Barwell co-driver Phil Keen to respond during the second GT3 session. And he duly obliged by beating British GT3’s Spa qualifying lap record.
Patrick Kujala and Jonny Adam both took turns at the top of the times before Keen relieved the latter of provisional pole, only for Team Parker Racing’s Bentley duo of Callum Macleod and Seb Morris to then go faster in quick succession.
Keen wasn’t finished, though, and finally made sure of his and Barwell’s second pole of the campaign by setting a best of 2m18.615s, two-and-a-half tenths inside last season’s qualifying record held by Morris. The Welshman also subsequently went underneath his 2016 benchmark before slipping to third in the dying moments when Macleod summoned a final flying lap just 0.025s shy of Keen’s best.
Kessel Racing’s Ferrari claimed its second fourth place of the day courtesy of Carlo van Dam, the Dutchman ending up 0.328s down on pole and just 0.082s faster than Adam’s TF Sport Aston Martin. Early pace-setter Kujala wound up sixth but only 0.537s slower than team-mate Keen aboard Barwell’s race-by-race Lamborghini he shares with Adrian Amstutz, while Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing’s Adam Christodoulou was fastest of the Mercedes-AMG runners.
Sam Tordoff (Barwell Lamborghini), Ryan Ratcliffe (AMDtuning.com Mercedes-AMG) and Stuart Leonard (Team WRT Audi) rounded out the top-10.
GT4 Q1: TREGURTHA GIVES HHC SECOND CONSECUTIVE GT4 POLE
After qualifying on pole at Silverstone with co-driver Stuart Middleton, HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha repeated the trick at Spa-Francorchamps earlier today by beating Black Bull Garage 59’s Sandy Mitchell to top spot.
With two potential pole candidates - practice pace-setters Ebor GT and championship contenders track-club - forced to miss qualifying through technical issues, the way was left clear for Tregurtha who laid down his fastest time on his first flying lap. 2m32.907s moved the Ginetta into a provisional pole it would keep for the remainder of the session, despite the best efforts of Mitchell who improved late to end up 0.247s adrift.
Macmillan AMR’s William Phillips looked like a contender throughout but had to settle for third after being bumped down by Mitchell's McLaren in the closing stages. He still finished ahead of Lanan Racing’s 2016 Spa race winner Alex Reed, who’d made the early running, and Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore.
A track limits violation cost Black Bull Garage 59’s Dean Macdonald fourth, but his second quickest time was still good enough to round out the top-six ahead of Matt Chapman’s Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta and Marcus Hoggarth, whose In2Racing 570S was fastest of the Pro/Am entries.
Tim Eakin underlined the potential of UltraTek/RJN’s Nissan 370Z by ending up ninth ahead of another Pro/Am entry, the Tolman Motorsport McLaren driven by David Pattison.
GT4 Q2: TOLMAN’S OSBORNE LEADS McLAREN 1-2
Joe Osborne beat British GT4’s Spa qualifying lap record by almost a second to seal his and Tolman Motorsport’s second class pole position of the season, although he faced stiff competition from fellow McLaren driver Ciaran Haggerty who ensured that Black Bull Garage 59 will line-up on the front row for both of tomorrow’s races.
Macmillan AMR’s Jan Jonck was fastest initially before Osborne set what would remain the session’s benchmark time - a 2m32.191s - on his first flying lap. Haggerty came closest with a time 0.157s slower but couldn’t improve thereafter, leaving Osborne to add to his Snetterton pole.
Jonck initially slipped back after the first runs but went faster on his second tour to leave his Aston Martin within four tenths of Tolman’s 570S. His third place came at the expense of fellow Scandinavian Jesse Anttila who celebrated his British GT4 debut with a fine fourth aboard In2Racing's #29 McLaren.
UltraTek/RJN’s Martin Plowman looked fast throughout practice and starts tomorrow’s race fifth ahead of Stuart Middleton who set a slightly slower time than HHC co-driver Will Tregurtha had done earlier to claim Race 1 pole.
Matt Nicoll-Jones’ Academy Motorsport Aston Martin, Century’s Ginetta driven by Mike Simpson, the Lanan Racing-entered G55 of David Pittard and debutant Charlie Hollings rounded out the top-10.
Tomorrow’s first 60-minute race begins at 09:20 local time before the second gets underway at 13:00. Watch them both via VW Fun Cup’s live stream at http://25hours.vwfuncup.eu.
Phil Keen, #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “Barwell and Lamborghini have done a great job with the car, which makes my job a bit easier. Starting on the front row makes life a bit easier at the start but we know the two Bentleys behind will be right on our tail heading through Eau Rouge, Raidillon and along the Kemmel Straight on lap one, so ensuring they don’t out-drag us up to that point will be key. If we can get through that section still leading we might be alright. Jon [Minshaw] also did a great job in his session; a 2m21.6s is a decent lap around here.”
Joe Osborne, #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4: “The McLarens are carrying some extra weight this weekend and I openly thought we’d be four or five tenths behind the Ginettas BoP-wise, so I’ve proved myself wrong! But I think that shows how much potential the 570S has and also highlights its versatility. Ciaran [Haggerty] did a mega job by pushing me a bit closer than I would have liked - less than two tenths is only a very small mistake around Spa. Clearly the car’s working as well in Tolman’s hands as it is Garage 59’s - for a small, one-car team they always bring their A-Game and give me something that I can put near the sharp end.”
LAP RECORDS - SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
GT3 - 2m21.830s - Alexander Sims - Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - 2016
GT4 - 2m34.552s - Sandy Mitchell - Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4 - 2016
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES - RACE 1
10s - #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 - Parfitt Jnr/Morris
07s - #24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Littlejohn/Mitchell
05s - #21 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3 - Cameron/Griffin
10s - #72 track-club McLaren 570S GT4 - Balon/Mackay
07s - #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 - Moore/Nicoll-Jones
05s - #29 In2Racing McLaren 570S GT4 - Hoggarth/Anttila