Barwell’s Keen and Optimum’s Robinson top FP1 at Rockingham
Barwell Motorsport’s Phil Keen set a searing pace in first practice for this weekend’s British GT round at Rockingham earlier today, while PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport’s Mike Robinson topped the GT4 class.
Keen holds the qualifying and race lap records around Rockingham’s ISCC layout and was immediately below the latter’s mark at the start of the morning’s hour-long session. His 1m17.225s effort was more than a second quicker than his 2016 best and 0.407s clear of Matt Griffin’s Spirit of Race Ferrari 488, which finished second after also setting its personal best early on.
However, there was concern for Barwell’s pace-setting Lamborghini late in the session when Keen’s co-driver Jon Minshaw ground to a halt on track after losing drive.
Sam Tordoff made it two Huracans in the top-three after lapping a tenth shy of Griffin, while reigning champion Jonny Adam put the TF Sport Aston Martin V12 Vantage fourth, albeit 0.7s down on Keen’s time.
Team Parker Racing’s two Bentleys were next up, Seb Morris’ Continental ending practice just ahead of team-mate Callum Macleod, while Ryan Ratcliffe (AMDTuning.com Mercedes-AMG) and Parker Chase (Century Motorsport Ginetta G55) ensured all six GT3 manufacturers finished within 1.6s of each other inside the top-eight.
In GT4, reigning champion Mike Robinson also circulated below the class’ existing lap record to top opening practice. His best of 1m23.480s was half a second up on Nathan Freke’s 2016 fastest lap and 0.331s quicker than Joe Osborne, who ended up second aboard Tolman Motorsport’s McLaren 570S.
It was incredibly close thereafter with less than four tenths covering the next eight drivers. Scott Malvern’s Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR was only 0.073s shy of Osborne’s time but just 0.020s clear of the Lanan Racing Ginetta driven by David Pittard and Alex Reed.
Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Racing’s Sam Webster and Matt Chapman were next up ahead of the first of UltraTek Racing Team RJN’s Nissan 370Zs driven by Martin Plowman. Oulton Park’s race-winning track-club McLaren, Century’s #43 Ginetta and Black Bull Garage 59’s #100 McLaren completed an incredibly competitive top-10.
Second free practice gets underway at 11:45 ahead of qualifying at 15:35.
Click here for FP1’s combined times.