Century’s Harper and Leung lead the way as 2023 blasts off at Oulton Park

Century’s Harper and Leung lead the way as 2023 blasts off at Oulton Park

Dan Harper and Darren Leung enjoyed a flying start to the season by topping the opening practice session at Oulton Park in their Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3. In GT4, new entry DTO Motorsport didn’t waste any time in asserting itself, with Aston Millar and Josh Rowledge’s McLaren Artura GT4 leading the class.

In a session punctuated by two red flags, much of the heavy lifting was done early in the session. Harper took the wheel of the Century BMW for the start and set two laps good enough for top spot, putting the car a few tenths clear of Euan Hankey’s RACE LAB McLaren.

The first red flag appeared after Marcus Clutton’s Enduro Motorsport McLaren GT3 had a coming together with Carl Cavers’ Century BMW GT4 at Shell Oils. The tangle put both cars out for the remainder of the session.

When running resumed, we saw the fist of the 2 Seas Mercedes, with both Jonny Adam and Jules Gounon enjoying their first laps with 30 minutes left on the clock. Gounon only did a couple of fliers, but his best put him within 0.005s of Harper to secure second for the car he shares with reigning champion Ian Loggie. Sandy Mitchell and Shaun Balfe moved up to third fastest in their Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan, with Marvin Kichhöfer and Alexander West grabbing fourth in their Garage 59 McLaren, just ahead of Adam and James Cottingham’s Mercedes-AMG.

The session was curtailed by a few minutes when Andrey Borodin spun his Greystone GT McLaren, bringing out the second red flag with just five minutes remaining and setting the final order in stone.

Much like in GT3, GT4 was actually settled early on as Millar quickly asserted the DTO McLaren at the head of the order. Seb Hopkins did the best job of chasing him down, moving to within 0.2s of him in the R Racing Aston Martin he shares with Josh Miller. Jack Brown and Charles Clark were third quickest in the Optimum McLaren Artura.

Freddie Tomlinson and Stuart Middleton took fourth place in their Raceway Motorsport Ginetta G56 ahead of the leading Pro-Am entry of Kavi Jundu and Tom Rawlings, whose Paddock Motorsport Artura wound up a fine fifth. Harry George and Harry Nunn rounded out the top six in their Enduro Motorsport Artura.

The session featured 35 of the 36 entries, with Team Parker Racing’s Porsche 718 Cayman being the only car not to feature as the squad attempted to cure an electrical issue.