> Result: Free Practice 1
Barwell Motorsport may have an enviable record at Oulton Park, and even topped the times during opening practice courtesy of a flying effort from Sandy Mitchell, but the team ended FP1 with both entries sidelined after separate issues befell its championship-chasing Lamborghinis.
Despite going fastest, the #1 Huracan of Adam Balon/Mitchell developed an engine issue mid-session, while the sister car of championship leaders Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind lost almost the entire session after hitting the barriers early on.
In GT4, Darren Turner stamped his authority on the session early doors aboard the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage, setting a benchmark nobody could match during a disrupted session.
Oulton Park is traditionally a strong circuit for Barwell Motorsport Lamborghinis – the team has won at least one race here each year since switching to the Italian marque in 2016 – so it was little surprise to see one of its cars head the times early in the session. But what was a surprise was to see its second one headed for the barriers, and the other back to the garage with engine trouble.
Overcast skies left the track with damp patches off-line after overnight rain, leading to a relatively slow start to the session as many opted to allow others to shift what wet bits remained before venturing out themselves. The upside of that was a lack of traffic for the early runners, and they were largely the beneficiaries.
Marcus Clutton set the first meaningful time in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren, before Mitchell usurped him with his final effort before handing across to Adam Balon right before the session was interrupted.
Leo Machitski had been fourth fastest and looked set to improve after a personal best first sector when he suffered a high-speed pirouette at Island Bend that led to the points-leading #63 Huracan slamming into the barriers face-first, summoning the red flags. Machitski emerged unscathed, but the team has its hands full to repair the car in time for FP2.
When running resumed, few made improvements, leaving Balon/Mitchell almost half-a-second clear of Clutton and Morgan Tillbrook’s McLaren. It looked good for Barwell, but the car was quickly consigned back to the garage to attend an engine issue that developed shortly after Mitchell set his fastest time. The car is unlikely to figure in second practice as a result.
Scott Malvern found some time aboard Team Parker Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R to move the car he shares with Nick Jones to third fastest, ahead of the returning Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Team Abba Racing’s Richard and Sam Neary.
Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam were fifth in Beechdean AMR’s Aston Martin, ahead of Ian Loggie and Yelmer Buurman’s #6 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG. The sister RAM entry of Kevin Tse/Tom Onslow-Cole was seventh, just clear of Michael Igoe/Phil Keen’s WPI Lamborghini.
In similar fashion to GT3, a super early effort from Aston Martin factory stalwart Darren Turner left Newbridge Motorsport untouchable at the top of the charts.
Turner was one of the first drivers to venture out and pumped in 1m43.787s as a benchmark for team-mate Matt Topham to chase. However, it proved elusive to everybody, with only returning GT4 champion Jamie Caroline in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK Supra getting close. It marked a strong first outing for Caroline, who takes over from Scott McKenna alongside John Ferguson in the Toyota this weekend.
Charlie Robertson put Assetto Motorsport’s Ginetta G56 he shares with Mark Sansom third fastest, ahead of the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-AMG of Dave Whitmore/Jake Giddings. Richard Williams/Sennan Fielding’s Steller Motorsport Audi R8 was fifth and first of the Silver Cup runners, ahead of Chris Salkeld/Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke in the #9 Century Motorsport BMW.
Runaway championship leaders Will Burns and Gus Burton were seventh in their Century BMW, with Alain Valente/Michael Benyahia’s Team Rocket RJN McLaren rounding out the top eight.
FP2 gets underway at 12:20 BST.