FP1: Orange Racing tops mixed opening practice at Donington

FP1: Orange Racing tops mixed opening practice at Donington

> Toyota Gazoo Racing UK’s Collard heads GT4
> Result: Free Practice 1

Guest entrant Orange Racing powered by JMH made a flying start to its Intelligent Money British GT Championship career with Michael O’Brien and Simon Orange’s McLaren coming out on top of a mixed conditions opening practice session at Donington Park this morning. 

In GT4, Tom Edgar and Jordan Collard led the way in the Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota GR Supra.

Heavy overnight rain meant the session started on a wet-but-drying track, which resulted in a constantly changing order that wasn’t decided until O’Brien struck the final blow in the session’s closing stages.

Euan Hankey (7TSIX) topped the times at half-distance before Jules Gounon (RAM Racing) and then Lewis Williamson (2 Seas Mercedes-AMG) hit the front while the track was still damp.

Richard Neary gave the first indication that the track was ready for slicks, and it wasn’t long before everyone had switched. 

Times continued to tumble thereafter, and again it was Gounon who initially led the way. He was the first to dip into the 1m34s before Paddock Motorsport’s McLaren driven by Martin Plowman found an extra second as conditions continued to improve. 

The Frenchman then fought back, going a huge four seconds faster on his slicks, before Alexander Sims pipped him by a tenth in the Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 he shares with Darren Leung. Gounon and Sims then traded top spot between them heading into a breathless final 10 minutes as many headed back out to try and take advantage of the best of the conditions.

Chief among those late runners were Williamson/James Cottingham’s 2 Seas Mercedes, and Michael O’Brien/Simon Orange’s JMH McLaren. Williamson was the first to topple Gounon’s benchmark, before O’Brien put in two laps good enough for top spot. His 1m27.439s was ultimately 0.679s quicker than Williamson’s best. 

Hankey put the 7TSIX McLaren he shares with Mia Flewitt third, ahead of Gounon/Loggie’s Mercedes-AMG. Darren Leung and Sims were fifth in Century’s BMW, with Adam Balon/Sandy Mitchell’s Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini rounding out the top six.

GT4 was similarly turbulent, with many of the cars featuring well up the overall order as the conditions changed.

Kavi Jundu set the pace for much of the session in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 he shares with Moh Ritson. An early change to slicks put that car well inside the top 10 for much of the session, and left others playing catch up.

Edgar did the best work, closing the gap to Jundu’s time before then forging ahead as the fastest times started to come in. Jundu and Edgar traded top spot until Collard took over late on and sealed the result in a fine 12th overall.

A late improvement from Seb Hopkins helped he and team-mate Jamie Orton to second in the Team Parker Racing Porsche, ahead of Tom Rawlings/Chris Salkeld’s Century Motorsport BMW M4. Marco Signoretti/Matt Cowley’s Academy Ford Mustang was fourth, ahead of Richard Williams/Sennan Fielding’s Steller Motorsport Audi R8 LMS. Jack Brown and Will Burns’ Century BMW rounded out the top six as Jundu/Ritson wound up eighth at the finish.

Second practice begins at 12:15 BST.