Michael Igoe and Phil Keen will start tomorrow's Intelligent Money British GT Championship #DoningtonDecider from pole position after topping both GT3 sessions in their WPI Motorsport Lamborghini, while Steller Motorsport's Audi shared by Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding was similarly impressive en route to GT4 top spot.
But there was almost disaster for championship leader Leo Machitski who was fortunate to escape from the gravel trap and set a representative lap time after losing control at the Fogarty Esses. The Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini he shares with Dennis Lind lines up sixth overall tomorrow.
In GT4, Steller scored its second pole of the season in dominant fashion by lapping a combined 0.5s faster than Team Rocket RJN's Michael Benyahia and Alain Valente. Toyota Gazoo Racing UK's Supra was best of the Pro-Am title contenders in fifth thanks to Jamie Caroline's fastest individual time.
GT3: FASTEST TIMES LEAVE IGOE AND KEEN COMFORTABLY CLEAR
Michael Igoe and Phil Keen combined to produce a qualifying clean sweep and claim pole position for the season finale.
The duo, who sit third in the championship standings ahead of tomorrow’s two-hour race, drew first blood in the fight for top spot when Igoe recovered from having a lap time scrubbed for track limits to place WPI’s Huracan fastest early in the session – just before trouble befell Barwell Motorsport's points-leading Lamborghini.
Leo Machitski was firmly in the fight for the fastest time early on but lost control of the #63 car entering the Fogarty Esses halfway through the session, the car slewing to a rest in the gravel trap and bringing out the red flags. However, as Machitski could be easily recovered to the track, he was allowed to resume the session and went on to post the seventh fastest time, albeit over a second shy of Igoe’s benchmark.
With Machitski struggling, it left the door open for others to shine. Richard Neary made the most of a clear track late on to put the Team Abba Mercedes-AMG second and just 0.2s down on top spot, while Morgan Tillbrook produced a fine performance to snatch third in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren.
Ian Loggie brought the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG, which sits second in the points, up to fourth, ahead of Adam Balon’s Barwell Lamborghini.
With the WPI car enjoying a two-tenth advantage as the field switched over to the pro drivers, it would take something special to deny the #18 Lamborghini pole. And, even though many tried, nobody could dampen the party at WPI as Keen produced record-breaking pace to cement the place with the fastest lap of the weekend so far. His 1m26.093s was also almost half-a-second under his own qualifying lap record at Donington.
The pace was such that Keen wasn’t the only driver to dip under the old record, with Marcus Clutton’s best effort falling just 0.006s shy of the ultimate time. However, it was enough to move Enduro’s McLaren on to the front row of the grid tomorrow.
Sam Neary backed up his father’s fine work to ensure the Abba Mercedes-AMG netted third on combined times, while Yelmer Buurman produced a great final flying lap to place the #6 RAM Mercedes-AMG fourth.
Sandy Mitchell and Balon will start fifth, with Dennis Lind setting the fourth fastest lap of the session to move the points-leading #63 Lamborghini to sixth on the grid, just ahead of the Team Parker Racing Porsche of Nick Jones and Scott Malvern. Euan Hankey and Mia Flewitt will start Team Rocket RJN’s McLaren 720S from eighth, just ahead of the final title contender – Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam’s Beechdean AMR Aston Martin, which has its work cut out to spring a championship surprise from ninth.
GT4: CAROLINE FASTEST BUT IT'S STELLER'S POLE
Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding handed the Steller Motorsport team its second GT4 pole position of the season after fine early work from Williams laid the foundations for the pair’s first top spot since Silverstone back in June.
With the overall championship already settled in favour of Century Motorsport’s Will Burns and Gus Burton during the previous round at Oulton Park, Donington qualifying became an open battle, epitomised by the top six crews all being powered by different manufacturers.
Williams made the best of the early running to lead Jordan Collard’s RJN McLaren by just over four tenths, as Will Moore slotted the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang into third. With the bulk of the work done by his early effort, Williams bailed from the session with over a minute to go to save tyres, but would have had a worrying moment when Michael Benyahia lit up the timing screens late on to vault his #3 Team Rocket RJN McLaren into second, trimming Williams’ advantage to 0.243s in the process. In truth the McLaren had looked a threat much earlier, but Benyahia had his previous best lap disallowed for track limits.
Fielding jumped in for the second qualifying element and never looked troubled by his Silver Cup rivals, producing the second-fastest time of the session to seal pole for Steller.
However, while the top spot was settled, the fastest time was not, and that – somewhat predictably – went the way of the rapid Jamie Caroline, who trimmed 0.2s off the qualifying lap record with his final effort, lifting Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Supra from 10th to fifth in the combined times, and claiming Pro-Am pole in the process.
Alain Valente built nicely on Benyahia’s work to leave their McLaren second on the grid, ahead of Moore and Matt Cowley’s Mustang. New champions Burns and Burton will line up fifth in their Century Motorsport BMW M4, which wears a new golden colour scheme this weekend.
Matt Topham and Darren Turner recovered from their free practice mishap to go seventh fastest – as well as second in Pro-Am – in the Newbridge Aston Martin, with Jordan Collard and James Kell’s #2 Team Rocket RJN McLaren rounding out the top eight.
British GT's Donington Decider goes green at 13:00 BST tomorrow. Watch live build-up on SRO's GT World YouTube channel and Sky Sports F1 from 12:35.