Optimum Aston Martin and Century BMW claim Brands Hatch poles
Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam made it back-to-back British GT pole positions for Optimum Motorsport after beating Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard and Darren Turner by a combined 0.431s at Brands Hatch earlier today.
Century Motorsport and BMW also maintained their purple patch by locking out the GT4 class’ front row. Dean Macdonald and championship leader Jack Mitchell claimed pole by just 0.022s from team-mates Ben Green and Ben Tuck.
GT3: CONSISTENCY KEY TO OPTIMUM’S POLE
Neither Flick Haigh or Jonny Adam set fastest times in their respective qualifying sessions. Instead, their third pole of the season, and second in as many rounds, was built on sheer consistency.
Their chances were aided by practice pace-setters TF Sport enduring a nightmare qualifying session that began with Mark Farmer spinning his Aston Martin into the Paddock Hill Bend gravel trap. The resulting red flag meant just six of the scheduled 10 minutes remained when the GT3 Am session resumed.
Rick Parfitt Jnr again showed his and Team Parker Racing’s pace by topping the Am session for a second time in as many rounds after lapping 0.140s faster than Andrew Howard, who made a welcome return to form. While the Bentley remained untroubled up front, the former two-time champion improved twice to see off the challenge posed by Jetstream Motorsport’s Spa winner Graham Davidson and Haigh, who finished 0.2s shy of the Beechdean AMR Aston Martin.
Barwell Motorsport’s Lamborghinis circulated within 0.017s of each other to claim fifth and sixth, Jon Minshaw ultimately beating Sam De Haan, while Ian Loggie and Derek Johnston completed the top-eight.
However, that all changed in the Pro segment thanks to Adam whose second fastest time helped Optimum’s V12 Vantage leap from fourth to first. Darren Turner’s efforts saw Beechdean retain second ahead of Phil Keen who gained two places aboard the championship-leading Barwell Lamborghini he shares with Minshaw.
That came at the expense of Jetstream’s Davidson and Maxime Martin who start fourth, while the second Barwell Lamborghini driven by Jonny Cocker and De Haan, and the Team Parker Bentley of Callum Macleod and Loggie, completed the top-six.
Yelmer Buurman’s fastest overall time helped ERC Sport’s Mercedes-AMG move up to seventh ahead of Parfitt and Ryan Ratcliffe’s Bentley. But there was further disappointment for TF Sport whose second Aston Martin failed to set a representative Q2 time after losing a wheel early in the session.
GT4: CENTURY BMWs UNSTOPPABLE AT BRANDS
Jack Mitchell made the ideal start to a weekend that could end with him wrapping up the GT4 title by leading a Century Motorsport one-two in qualifying alongside co-driver Dean Macdonald. The pair claimed pole by a combined 0.022s from team-mates Ben Tuck and Ben Green, while Academy Motorsport’s Tom Wood and Jan Jonck took third.
Tolman Motorsport’s Charlie Fagg and then Wood both initially topped Q1 before Century and Macdonald grabbed the initiative thanks to a 1m33.273s.
Green subsequently crossed the line just 0.013s slower to give BMW a provisional one-two ahead of Wood’s Aston Martin, the McLaren of Fagg, Patrik Matthiesen’s HHC Motorsport Ginetta, and second Academy-run V8 Vantage driven by Will Moore who completed a top-six separated by 0.5s.
Steller Motorsport’s Richard Williams was the leading amateur in seventh overall.
Century’s private tussle for top spot then continued into the second half of GT4 qualifying where Tuck initially reduced his #42 M4’s combined deficit to 0.006s. That briefly became pole next time around before Mitchell restored his and Macdonald’s slender advantage once and for all.
Behind, 2017’s Brands Hatch winner Jan Jonck consolidated Academy’s third place, Michael O’Brien also retained fourth in the Tolman McLaren he shares with Fagg, and the second Academy Aston – now driven by Matt Nicoll-Jones – swapped places with HHC’s Ginetta driven by Callum Pointon.
Sennan Fielding backed up Williams’ earlier run to seal the Pro/Am spoils for Steller and Toyota, while Scott Malvern’s fastest individual time of the session – 1m32.605s – helped Team Parker’s Mercedes-AMG jump from 12th to eighth.
Both Drivers’ titles could be won at Brands Hatch tomorrow when British GT’s two-hour race gets underway at 13:40. Watch it live on the championship’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s GT World Youtube channel.
Jonny Adam, #75 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3: “We’re in prime position. After qualifying on pole, which is really good for the team, our job now is to try and deliver a good result tomorrow. The championship can obviously swing either way so it’s all about execution and trying to get those points in so we can head to Donington with a realistic shot at the championship. The car has always been quite balanced and we’re okay on traction but it is going to be a tough stint for the Ams in this heat.”
Dean Macdonald, #43 Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT4: “The car felt absolutely amazing and the team’s done an amazing job all weekend. I can’t thank them enough. When you’ve got a car that gives you so much confidence it makes it so much nicer to drive. The back section [of the circuit] is amazing and when you’re really on it over there it feels great.”