Ross Gunn fired Beechdean AMR to the front of the field during first practice at Donington Park, putting the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 he shares with Andrew Howard on top of an ultra-tight session that was run at record-breaking pace.
Just one tenth of a second separated the top four in GT3, as four different brands occupied the places. Likewise, GT4 was just as tense, with Charles Clark and Jack Brown leaving it late to snatch the best time aboard their Optimum Motorsport McLaren Artura.
With the entirety of the Donington Park circuit benefiting from a full resurface, times tumbled, with both the quickest GT3 and GT4 runners carving seconds off the existing lap record.
The sun shone over Donington for the opening session of the weekend, with the Pro drivers taking the opportunity to lay down some benchmarks for their Am team-mates to chase. Sandy Mitchell led the way early doors in the Barwell Lamborghini he shares with Shaun Balfe, before Marvin Kirchhoefer put the Garage 59 McLaren top, right before Raffaele Marciello set the pace in the #15 Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG before handing across to John Ferguson.
Marciello’s time stood for the entire first half of the session, before Gunn took the Beechdean Aston over at the halfway point and swiftly put in a lap 0.074s faster to cement top spot, his effort being over a second under the existing qualifying lap record.
Kirchhoefer went back out for a late try, but caught traffic on his best lap, as Euan Hankey was the only real mover late on as he managed to bring the RACE LAB McLaren he drives alongside Lucky Khera to third overall.
Mitchell and Balfe were fourth, ahead of Rob Bell/Mark Radcliffe’s Optimum Motorsport McLaren and Kirchoeffer/Alexander West.
If GT3 was close, GT4 genuinely couldn’t have got much tighter as Josh Rowledge and Jack Brown traded early fastest times, with Rowledge holding the initial advantage by just 0.001s in the DTO McLaren Artura.
The momentum shifted when Charles Clark took the Optimum Artura over from Brown and snuck ahead by 0.086s. With that, the order seemed set, until Rowledge got back in to snip an extra half-a-tenth off Clark’s time to briefly put DTO in the box seat, only for Clark to do likewise within the final five minutes to eventually lead the way by 0.053s with a lap that was again over a second under the qualifying record.
Darren Burke and Harry George’s Enduro Motorsport Artura was third, ahead of Stuart Middleton/Freddie Tomlinson’s Raceway Ginetta G56. Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato put Century’s #22 BMW M4 fifth, with Dan Vaughan/Zac Meakin rounding out the top six in Team Parker Racing’s Porsche Cayman.
Free practice two takes place at 12:20.