Team Parker Racing’s Rick Parfitt Jnr and Seb Morris secured their third British GT pole position of the season at Silverstone earlier today after narrowly beating Barwell Motorsport’s Liam Griffin and Alexander Sims. Meanwhile, in GT4, Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse pairing Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell claimed theirs and the McLaren 570S’s maiden class pole.
GT3: 0.071s separates Bentley and Lamborghini
Despite the senior class featuring its biggest entry of the season the fight for pole boiled down to just two crews. That 0.071s separated the combined times of Parfitt Jnr/Morris and Griffin/Sims owed everything to how competitive this year’s championship has become.
Both the Am and Pro sessions featured see-saw battles between the respective drivers, but it was Parfitt Jnr who laid the foundations for pole by eventually besting Griffin by only 0.052s after both had provisionally occupied top spot.
Sims would therefore require a lap half a tenth quicker than Morris’ best to wrestle pole away, and following the first runs he looked to have achieved just that after turning his deficit into a 0.113s advantage. Morris wasn’t done though and hit back next time around to record the fastest lap of the session - 2m00.082s - and seal pole for he and Parfitt Jnr.
However, their 20-second pit-stop success penalty for winning race two at Oulton Park a fortnight ago means nothing is assured tomorrow.
So competitive were the Pros that the quickest four drivers recorded times within six hundredths of a second of each other. One of those was championship leader Jonny Adam who, along with TF Sport co-driver Derek Johnston, leapt from fifth to third in the second session.
The pair were 0.5s shy of the leading Bentley’s combined pole time and a similar amount clear of the similar Beechdean AMR V12 Vantage GT3 that Andrew Howard had initially qualified seventh before Ross Gunn jumped aboard.
Alasdair McCaig and Rob Bell’s Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 650S GT3 starts fifth after finishing 0.025s behind Howard and Gunn, while Ian Loggie and Callum MacLeod completed the top-six in the second Team Parker Bentley.
Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne were a further 0.137s back in the AmDTuning.com BMW Z4 GT3 that finished second at Silverstone last season, one place clear of Marco Attard and Adam Carroll in the new FF Corse Ferrari 488 that the Northern Irishman lapped just 0.025s slower than Morris’ benchmark.
It was a surprise to see the second Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen, who qualified on pole at Oulton Park, down in 10th, while Will Moore and Ryan Ratcliffe had been third after the Am session before slipping to 12th.
Seb Morris, #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3: “Team Parker have done an amazing job to turn our fortunes around because, if I’m honest, we weren’t in a good place during Friday’s test. But the changes we made have really worked. The Bentley’s not been as strong in other championships this year so it’s great that our teamwork has helped bring it along in British GT. Qualifying wasn’t perfect; I didn’t bring in the front tyres as much as I could so struggled through sector one before hooking it up over the second half. It was the other way around on the second lap so, somewhere in between, there’s a perfect time! Fortunately the second run was just good enough for pole.”
Alexander Sims, #6 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: “There wasn’t a huge difference between my first and second laps so I couldn’t have found much more time. I was quite happy, to be honest! You couldn’t find two more different cars than the BMW M6 I’ve driven for most of this year and the Lamborghini here; they’re different philosophies and you make the lap time in different ways. So it’s interesting comparing the two but, in the end, it’s actually not too difficult swapping between them. Traffic will be crucial tomorrow. That’s where the race will be won and lost rather than the success penalties other cars are carrying.”