FP1: Strong starts for Keen and Malvern as Brands Hatch weekend gets underway
> Title-chasing Barwell ace tops GT3, Malvern on form again in GT4
> FP1 Results
Phil Keen kicked off British GT's Brands Hatch weekend by leading the GT3 runners in opening practice at the Kent circuit, while Scott Malvern was the man to beat among the GT4 contenders.
Title-chaser Keen set a time of 1m25.337s early in the session to comfortably top the order in his #72 Lamborghini Huracan. He and Barwell teammate Adam Balon enter the season's penultimate round just half a point shy of the championship lead.
Callum MacLeod recorded a 1m26.210s to go second-fastest in the #6 Mercedes-AMG that he shares with Ian Loggie. The RAM Racing duo retain an outside shot at the title and will require a similarly strong race result to travel to the Donington finale still in the hunt.
While the leading pair set their times early, third-quickest Tom Onslow-Cole left it late to establish himself at the top of the order. The ABBA Racing ace delivered a 1m26.330s with only a few minutes on the clock, suggesting that he and Richard Neary could be a factor in their #8 Mercedes-AMG.
The championship-leading #69 Barwell Lamborghini was next up courtesy of Jonny Cocker. Sharing with Sam De Haan, the British pair hold a slender advantage over the sister #72 crew as the championship reaches its deciding phase. Set Morris completed in the top five in the #31 JRM Bentley that he shares with Rick Parfitt Jnr.
The GT4 order was topped by Scott Malvern in the #66 Team Parker Racing Mercedes-AMG. The British driver circulated in 1m33.263s to ensure the best possible start for himself and teammate Nick Jones.
Ashley Hand was second fastest in the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin, as well as the fastest of GT4's Silver Cup runners. Third went to the championship-leading crew of Scott Maxwell and Seb Priaulx (#15 Multimatic Ford), who will also contend for Silver honours this weekend.
A second free practice session will get underway at 12.50, followed by qualifying at 16.30 this afternoon. The weekend will culminate with tomorrow's crucial two-hour race, which is set to begin at 13.00.