Farmer/Barnes and Moore/Nicoll-Jones claim pole positions for #DoningtonDecider
> TF Sport Aston Martins claim GT3 one-two
> Academy Aston takes convincing GT4 pole
> Title rivals qualify within touching distance of each other in both classes
> Result: Donington Park Qualifying
TF Sport’s Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes claimed a dominant pole position for tomorrow’s #DoningtonDecider, the finale of 2017’s British GT season, while Academy Motorsport’s #62 Aston Martin of Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones secured its second GT4 pole position in a row.
The title contending Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini driven by Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen starts alongside the Team Parker Racing Bentley of title rivals Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris on the second row. In GT4, HHC Motorsport’s championship leading duo of Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton will line up for tomorrow’s two-hour enduro third in class whilst the Lanan Racing Ginetta of David Pittard and Alex Reed, the only car that can deny Tregurtha and Middleton the crown, starts seventh.
GT3: FARMER AND BARNES LEAD DOMINANT TF SPORT 1-2
After strong showings in both of the day’s earlier practice sessions, the two Aston Martins of TF Sport continued their dominance into qualifying with Mark Farmer lighting up the GT3 Am session from the off. A 1m28.212s on his first flying lap proved impossible to beat for the rest of the 10-minute segment, and even afforded Farmer the comfort of being able to pit before the chequered flag, such was his pace.
Jon Minshaw initially held second ahead of TF Sport’s Derek Johnston but the 2016 British GT champion soon reversed those positions, a 1m28.727s putting him just 0.006s quicker than the #33 Lamborghini. The Bentley Continental of Rick Parfitt Jnr began to move up the order too and he vaulted into fourth, closing to within 0.177s of Minshaw.
The #08 JRM Advanced Engineering-run Nissan GT-R NISMO of Charlie Fagg shifted the order yet further as he lapped the 2.498-mile circuit in a time of 1m28.566s, putting him in second ahead of Johnston, Minshaw and Parfitt Jnr.
Heading into the closing stages, there was still time for one more major change as Parfitt Jnr moved to within 0.118s of Farmer to post the second quickest time of the session, which pushed Johnston and Minshaw down to fourth and fifth respectively.
Come the GT3 Pro session, it was once again the TF Sport Astons that were the class of the field with the benchmark time being continually lowered by Barnes in the #11 and out-going British GT champion Jonny Adam in the #1.
An initial lap of 1m27.125s increased the overall advantage of Barnes and Farmer over the rest of the GT3 field, and their combined 2m55.337s proved unbeatable during the rest of the session. Phil Keen meanwhile ensured that the #33 Lamborghini vaulted the championship leading Bentley of Parfitt Jnr and Morris by 0.331s, a combined time of 2m56.109s setting a strong benchmark in third after Keen produced a time only two-tenths slower than those of Barnes and Adam.
Morris spent the rest of the session attempting to lower his best lap and managed to do so to a 1m27.840s, which - unfortunately for the Welshman - when combined with Parfitt Jnr’s time fell just 0.061s shy of their title rivals Minshaw and Keen in third.
Adam recorded the quickest time of the day with a 1m26.929s but that was still not enough to overhaul the advantage of Farmer and Barnes as the chequered flag fell. Behind the top-four, the second Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Liam Griffin and Sam Tordoff held off the challenge of Richard Neary and Adam Christodoulou’s Mercedes-AMG to secure fifth.
Seventh went the way of the #7 Bentley Continental driven by Ian Loggie and Callum Macleod, whilst Charlie Fagg and Ben Green posted the eighth-quickest combined time in the Nissan GT-R. Owing to a refuelling penalty however, they were demoted to the back of the GT3 grid, which promoted the #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta of Ben Tuck and Nathan Freke up one position.
GT4: ACADEMY SEAL BACK-TO-BACK POLES AS OSBORNE AGAIN SHINES
Academy Motorsport’s Will Moore and Matt Nicoll-Jones claimed their second GT4 class pole in as many rounds at Donington Park after their combined 3m12.271s beat out-going class champions Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson by a combined 0.865s. Meanwhile, points leaders Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton strengthened their title chances by qualifying third.
After claiming their first pole together at Brands Hatch last month Academy’s Silver Cup pairing once again underlined their strong collective pace aboard the grid’s sole Aston Martin V8 Vantage.
Moore was first up and immediately jumped to the top of the times before Tim Eakin’s accident at McLeans necessitated lengthy barrier repairs. A subsequent track limits violation resulted in Moore’s benchmark being erased, but he wasn’t to be denied and subsequently produced two legitimate fastest times to establish a 0.3s advantage over Black Bull Garage 59’s Dean Macdonald and Johnson.
That margin increased to 0.865s after the second session in which Nicoll-Jones' third fastest lap overall, and one of just four to dip below the 1m36s threshold, applied the gloss to a decent day’s work.
Stefan Hodgetts and Richard Williams’ Invitation class GPRM Toyota finished second on the timing screens, but it was actually Robinson and Johnson who claimed the runner-up spot in class, as well as first in Pro/Am, thanks to swift efforts from both drivers.
The pair most likely to replace them as GT4 champions start one place further back after Tregurtha and Middleton qualified fastest of Ginetta's contingent. Their combined time was 0.9s shy of the leading Aston but just 0.073s behind PMW Expo/Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren.
2016 Donington race winners Sandy Mitchell and Black Bull Garage 59, who are joined this weekend by Andrew Watson, start fourth with their McLaren after lapping a combined 1.1 slower than Moore and Nicoll-Jones. But star of the individual qualifying show was once again Joe Osborne who produced a new British GT4 lap record - 1m35.273s - to move his and David Pattison’s Tolman Motorsport 570S from 10th to fifth. That could be crucial to the current Pro/Am championship leaders’ chances of sealing the title tomorrow.
Black Bull Garage 59’s second McLaren slipped from second after the first 10-minute session to sixth in the final standings. However, that is still one place ahead of Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and David Pittard who now have a mountain to climb if they’re to prevent Tregurtha and Middleton from becoming British GT’s youngest ever champions.
In2Racing’s pair of 570Ss finished eighth and ninth, the team’s new line-up of Matthew Graham and William Phillips beating Pro/Am pairing Marcus Hoggarth and Jesse Anttila. Track-club’s Adam Balon and Adam Mackay, who still harbour realistic hopes of winning the Pro/Am crown, completed the top-10.
Meanwhile, Nick Jones and Scott Malvern just missed out on a place inside the top-10 despite the latter setting the second fastest time of the day.
British GT’s 10th and final round of the season - the 2017 #DoningtonDecider - gets underway at 13:30 tomorrow. Mini Challenge JCW kicks off the day’s live Facebook and website coverage at 12:20 before British GT build-up begins at 13:00.
Jon Barnes, #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “It feels really good! That’s my first pole in GT racing. To do it with Mark [Farmer] combined today was mega. I was only a couple of tenths off Jonny [Adam] which is always good as he is super-fast. Overall, both me and Mark are really happy and in a good position for tomorrow.
“We’ve got a 10-second success penalty from Brands Hatch which is going to be difficult to overcome but Mark has had really good pace so if he can pull out three-tenths a lap on the other guys, and there are no safety cars, we might just get the gap that we need. Fingers crossed, we’re going to shoot for a win.”
Will Moore, #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4: “It feels great. We’ve just come back from the Nürburgring with two second places so hopefully we can go one better tomorrow. It was disappointing at Brands Hatch, we had pole position and had a driveshaft failure so we need to try and rectify that and get on the top step.
“I had my fastest lap disallowed for track limits which I think a lot of people did. I was pleased with my lap though. I think I left about half-a-second in the last corner because I was so pleased I was matching my lap time again that I didn’t concentrate into the final corner and lost five-tenths. Me and Matt are a really good pairing, really consistent, that’s what we pride ourselves on. We’ve got an extra 14-second stop being a Silver/Silver crew but we should be somewhere near the front.”
LAP RECORDS - DONINGTON PARK GP
GT3 - 1m28.233s - Jonny Adam - TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - 2016
GT4 - 1m37.298s - Gavan Kershaw - ISSY Racing Lotus Evora GT4 - 2015
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
20s - #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3 - Parfitt Jnr/Morris
15s - #6 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 - Griffin/Tordoff
10s - #11 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 - Farmer/Barnes
15s - #56 Tolman Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 - Pattison/Osborne
10s - #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 - Tregurtha/Middleton