FP1: Tolman’s Simpson and Century’s Freke seal Ginetta whitewash at Donington

FP1: Tolman’s Simpson and Century’s Freke seal Ginetta whitewash at Donington

Tolman Motorsport and Ginetta once again underlined their wet weather credentials after Mike Simpson topped British GT first practice at Donington Park this morning. Meanwhile, Century Motorsport’s Nathan Freke ensured G55s paced both classes after narrowly claiming the GT4 spoils.


Tolman shone at an otherwise gloomy Silverstone earlier this season and were back on top during today’s opening hour-long practice session that remained sodden throughout. Simpson’s best of 1m44.599s was just over a second quicker than championship leader Phil Keen could manage aboard his Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, although he soon made way for Am co-driver Jon Minshaw.


Ross Wylie moved the Motorbase Performance Aston Martin into the top-three with less than 10 minutes remaining. He ended up 1.8s down on Simpson’s benchmark but half-a-second faster than Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jnr whose Team Parker Racing Bentley was the fourth different model inside the top-four. 


The second of Barwell’s Huracans - driven by Liam Griffin and Alexander Sims - ended up fifth fastest ahead of Andrew Howard and Rory Butcher’s V12 Vantage.


Neither TF Sport Astons set a time. The team was unwilling to risk its championship-challenging #17 Vantage, a decision validated when the sister machine driven by Mark Farmer aquaplaned into the Melbourne Loop gravel trap on its opening lap.


Ginetta’s whitewash continued in GT4 where a late lap from Nathan Freke gave Century Motorsport the fastest time. His best of 1m51.324s was just a tenth quicker than Ross Gunn, who is again partnering title-chasing Beechdean AMR co-driver Jack Bartholomew this weekend


Matthew Graham’s V8 Vantage looked likely to top the times before both Freke and Gunn improved, but the Generation AMR Macmillan Racing driver still ended up just 0.4s shy of the class best in third. 


Fourth went to Sandy Mitchell’s McLaren, although the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse 570S was over a second down on Freke’s time. Meanwhile, long-time leader Rob Barrable completed the top-five after co-driver Aaron Mason failed to improve over the closing stages. Team Parker Racing’s Porsche Cayman finished sixth in the hands of Scott Malvern.


The tough conditions resulted in just one brief stoppage when Abbie Eaton beached her Ebor GT Maserati exiting the Fogarty Esses after 18 minutes. Her GranTurismo MC was soon freed and able to continue. 


The day’s second practice session gets underway at 12:20.


Click here for the complete FP1 classification.