Donington FP1: Osborne and Smelt set the early pace

Donington FP1: Osborne and Smelt set the early pace

> Result: FP1

Joe Osborne swapped the Intelligent Money British GT Championship’s commentary box for fastest time in FP1 at Donington Park this morning. The Balfe Motorsport McLaren he shares with Stewart Proctor – making the first of three race-by-race appearances this year – was 0.7s faster than the current GT3 race lap record.

Meanwhile, Sam Smelt continued his strong form from Oulton by topping the GT4 times in Speedworks’ Toyota Supra.

A flurry of fast times early in the 60-minute session remained unbeaten throughout. Sandy Mitchell and Yelmer Buurman initially set the pace until Osborne’s first and second laps firmly established Balfe’s McLaren 720S GT3 at the top of the times.

A minor spin for co-driver Stewart Proctor necessitated a very brief red flag period soon after, although the session resumed almost as soon as it had been stopped.

A quick run for Phil Keen helped Barwell’s #72 Lamborghini to finish second, albeit 0.451s shy of Osborne’s 1m27.183s, while Buurman improved to make it as many different manufacturers inside the top-three.

The RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG split Barwell’s Huracans after Rob Collard improved to finish ahead of Scott Malvern’s Team Parker Bentley.

Lamborghini Squadra Corse factory ace Andrea Caldarelli – making a first appearance at Donington since his Formula Renault days – completed the top-six for WPI Motorsport, while the second RAM Mercedes-AMG and first of the 2 Seas McLarens finished seventh and eighth.

In GT4, Sam Smelt’s 1m36.208s was enough to beat HHC’s championship-leading McLaren by 0.127s.

Jordan Collard initially lowered the fastest time on four consecutive laps before Smelt hit the front with 1m36.585. He’d improve again on the next two laps to finally set a benchmark even Collard couldn’t match.

TF Sport’s #95 Aston Martin shared by Patrick Kibble and Connor O’Brien was next up and just half-a-tenth down on the McLaren ahead, while Oulton’s Race 2 winner Euan Hankey (Balfe Motorsport), TF Sport’ second Vantage and Academy’s Ford Mustang completed a top-six separated by less than four tenths.

British GT’s second practice session begins at 12:10 BST. Follow it live on