Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse pairing Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell claimed theirs and the McLaren 570S’s maiden British GT4 class pole position at Silverstone earlier today thanks to a dominant performance.
GT4: Record GT4 entry no match for Haggerty and Mitchell’s McLaren
In stark contrast to its senior counterpart the result of GT4 qualifying was never in doubt after the opening 10-minute session. Aston Martin dominated both free practice sessions but had no answer for Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse pairing Mitchell and Haggerty who combined beautifully to secure the McLaren 570S’s maiden pole position.
Mitchell was the only driver to dip below the 2m13s barrier in the first session, beating the second placed Beechdean AMR Vantage of Jack Bartholomew by 0.489s. Academy Motorsport’s Dennis Strandberg was next up in the similar Academy Motorsport Aston, which was making its first British GT4 appearance since clinching the Teams’ championship at Donington last season.
That meant Jordan Albert had to find almost half a second if he was to topple the McLaren pairing. But it was actually Haggerty who lapped that much quicker again to ultimately seal a dominant first pole for the team and McLaren by 1.090s.
On top of it being both drivers’, the team’s and car’s first pole, Mitchell - aged 16 years and 100 days - also became the youngest driver to score a British GT pole position.
Albert and Bartholomew line up alongside the McLaren duo with Strandberg and Matt Nicoll-Jones’ Academy Vantage less than two tenths further back in third.
Alex Reed and Joey Foster’s Lanan Racing Ginetta starts fourth ahead of the FP1 pace-setting Generation AMR Macmillan Racing Aston Martin driven by Matty Graham and Jack Mitchell. A disappointing showing from championship leaders Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson resulted in only sixth for a crew bidding to win their fourth British GT race of the season, while the first of the GT4 European Series entries - Ricardo van der Ende and Bernard van Oranje’s Ekris M4 - completed the top-seven qualifiers.
GPRM’s Toyota GT86 stopped out on track during the second session but still starts seventh of the British GT runners in 11th overall, one place ahead of Marcus Hoggarth and Abbie Eaton’s Ebor GT Maserati.
Tomorrow’s three-hour, 500-kilometre British race gets underway at 12:50 and is live on Motors TV.
Sandy Mitchell, #59 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4: “I managed to get a clear track, which wasn’t easy with so many cars, and then just focused on putting the sectors together. Fortunately I hooked them up and got a lap time out of it! The 570S certainly seems better suited to Silverstone than somewhere like Oulton but we’ve actually had decent pace all year. We’ve just been missing that crucial piece of luck. So far so good this weekend.”
Ciaran Haggerty, #59 Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse McLaren 570S GT4: “We needed everything to come together and that’s so far been the case this weekend. We’ve unlocked some performance over the past couple of weekends so the car’s been getting better and better and we’ve also got on top of what it’s capable of. It’s a combination of everything, really. Our pace on used tyres over a long run looks good so we’re feeling confident.”
Jordan Albert, #407 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4: “Oulton wasn’t the best of weekends for us so we had to make the most of our chance here, especially as the Aston is so strong in a straight line. We found a good balance in practice and thought we’d be near the front in qualifying, which is exactly where we ended up! The McLaren’s one-lap pace looks really quick but over a stint we’re feeling confident. Half the battle tomorrow will be getting to the finish. Such a big grid makes it that bit trickier so consistency will be key.”