Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris shared the pole position in both sessions for the opening 2 rounds of the 2017 British GT championship.
The first session, for the ‘Am’ drivers, saw Rick Parfitt leave it to the last lap to consolidate his pole for the first round of the season, his #31 Bentley Continental GT3 1m 34.932 bringing him a 0.430 margin over the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan of Jon Minshaw. 0.629 down on Parfitt is the #24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Jack Mitchell. The #6, the second of the Barwell cars, saw Liam Griffin secure 4th spot, whilst Mark Farmer brought the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin home in 5th. 6th went the way of the #69 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT3 of Harry Gottsacker, 7th was the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley of Ian Loggie, where 8th place was the 2nd of the Century Ginettas, this time the #19 with Parker Chase at the helm. The Mercedes-AMGs, whilst some of the most popular new generation GT3 car, seemed to be struggling at Oulton Park, with the AmDtuning.com #30 car (Lee Mowle) and the #88 Team ABBA with Rollcentre Racing (Richard Neary) languishing in 9th and 10th, 3.050 and 3.119 seconds behind the #31.
The reigning champions, Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam, in the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, had a ‘mare of a session, Johnston spinning and causing some damage to the right-hand side of the car preventing him from completing a timed lap (and indeed causing a brief red flag in the Am session), and Adam racing over at Silverstone meaning the pair will start from the back of the GT3 grids for both races. Whilst this could be seen to relieve some of the pressure on the pair; a pair of solid points finishes will be the ultimate aim through the high-quality entry in GT3.
The same can’t be said for the duo in the #31 Bentley. or the ‘Pro’ drivers, saw Seb Morris put in a stunning lap time of 1m 32.993, barely 0.135 ahead of the #33 again (this time with Phil Keen aboard), the #6 and Sam Tordoff moving up to 3rd, and the #7 gaining 3 places from the first session meaning it was a top-4 lock out for the VW/Audi Group racers. Aston Martin again displayed their pace; but it would be the #11 heading the #24 as Jon Barnes heads James Littlejohn by nearly 1.5 seconds. Charlie Robertson showed the rejuvenated pace of the Ginetta, as the #19 qualified 3 hundredths behind the Macmillan car. Martin Short also closed in on the pack; the black and green-chrome #88 Mercedes would qualify 8th, ahead of Nathan Freke in the #69 Ginetta and Ryan Ratcliffe in the #30 Mercedes. No #1 in this session as previously mentioned, and also no Ferrari; that hadn’t made it out for either parts of Qualifying. Overall, then, variety in the grids, but dominance from Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris. They won 1 race here, and barely missed out on the second; can they double up at Bentley’s local circuit? Could the Lamborghinis sneak their way through? Either way, we’re going to be double guessing until the chequered flag drops for Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2017 British GT Championship.
Image c/o Nick Smith/theimageteam.com