James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien have claimed theirs and Jenson Team Rocket RJN’s third Intelligent Money British GT Championship pole position of the season at Donington Park after beating RAM Racing’s Patrick Kujala and Sam De Haan by a combined 0.065s.
Baldwin once again topped Q1 – the third time The World’s Fastest Gamer has done so in as many sessions – before O’Brien saw off Kujala in the second 10-minute segment.
RAM’s Mercedes-AMG starts one place ahead of fellow championship protagonists and top Pro/Am duo Adam Balon and Phil Keen, who set the fastest time of all in the second session. The Lamborghini’s 1m26.715s was just two tenths shy of the existing qualifying lap record, which also belongs to Keen.
In GT4, Academy Motorsport picked up where they left off at Brands Hatch by claiming pole position for Sunday’s three-hour race. Matt Cowley ended Q1 third quickest before Jordan Albert set fastest time of all to vault ahead of HHC’s McLaren shared by Patrik Matthiesen and Jordan Collard.
TF Sport’s Patrick Kibble and Connor O’Brien slipped to third after topping the first half of qualifying.
GT3: QUALIFYING KINGS BALDWIN AND O’BRIEN GRAB TOP SPOT ONCE AGAIN
James Baldwin and Michael O’Brien gave themselves every chance of overturning a 15s Success Penalty by claiming pole position under sunny skies at Donington earlier today. But they’ll be wary of the threat posed by Sam De Haan and Patrick Kujala whose RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG competes handicap-free.
The first 10-minute session was a straight fight between the two Silver Cup pairings who remained first and second throughout. Both drivers improved on their second runs but it was Baldwin who ultimately prevailed yet again by 0.191s.
Further back, Angus Fender’s late effort helped 2 Seas Motorsport’s McLaren take third from the impressive Ian Loggie who ended Q1 fourth overall and fastest of the amateur driver contingent. RAM’s second Mercedes-AMG was just 0.545s down on Baldwin’s time and a tenth quicker than Silvers Lewis Proctor (Optimum) and Rob Collard (Barwell).
Silver Cup’s additional ballast tends to favour the Pro/Am entries in Q2, and so it proved in terms of pure lap time at least.
A frantic start to the session saw the top of the combined classification change several times. Indeed, at one stage Phil Keen’s weekend best was sufficient for Barwell’s #72 Lamborghini to jump from seventh to first on the timing screen.
However, subsequent improvements were enough for O’Brien and Kujala to restore order ahead of the Pro/Am Huracan, which fell 0.147s shy of pole.
Yelmer Buurman backed up his co-driver Loggie’s earlier good work by sealing a place on the second row, while championship leader Sandy Mitchell was the only Silver Cup contender to dip below the 1m27s mark en route to fifth overall.
Behind, Marco Mapelli set the second fastest time of all to move WPI’s Lamborghini from 10th to sixth ahead of Optimum’s McLaren shared by Ollie Wilkinson and Proctor, and 2 Seas’ #9 McLaren.
Steller Motorsport’s Audi starts ninth courtesy of Sennan Fielding’s Q2 time, while ABBA Racing’s Sam and Richard Neary complete the top-10.
GT4: COWLEY AND ALBERT CONTINUE ACADEMY’S HOT STREAK
Matt Cowley and Jordan Albert turned the tables on their rivals to grab pole at Donington Park in a thrilling GT4 session, and in doing so continued their strong form from the last round at Brands Hatch.
Having secured their maiden race win last time out in Kent, Cowley and Albert put their Academy Motorsport-run Ford Mustang to good use around the fast sweeps of Donington.
Initially, it looked like a straight fight between Patrick Kibble’s TF Sport Aston Martin and Patrik Matthiesen’s HHC Motorsport McLaren for top spot. Kibble set the early pace but was soon joined by the flying Matthiesen who slotted the 570S into second, just over a tenth behind.
Indeed, only the top-two were able to post low 1m35s laps for most of Q1, but one final flier from Cowley elevated the Mustang to third and just 0.173s shy of provisional pole-man Kibble.
His co-driver Albert now had a chance to overhaul the Aston Martin. But he was very nearly denied the opportunity when an issue with his race suit zipper forced a quick swap into Cowley’s overalls between sessions! Academy’s crew got him into the car just in time for the session to start and, when his first lap moved him up to second on combined times behind Matthiesen’s team-mate Jordan Collard, the prize was there for the taking.
“My engineer came over the radio and said we were only something silly like one tenth off pole, and I was planning to have a cool-down lap, so I scrapped that idea and just went for it,” said Albert, who set outright best first and second sectors to sneak ahead by one tenth of a second. It proved timely as moments later red flags ended the session prematurely after Dan Vaughan hit oil and slithered into the Melbourne Hairpin gravel.
Connor O’Brien and Kibble will start third ahead of championship leaders Chris Wesemael and Gus Bowers whose HHC McLaren ground to a halt after dropping the oil that accounted for Vaughan.
Jamie Caroline and Vaughan finished fifth in the second TF Aston, while Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey secured the Pro-Am class pole by placing their Balfe Motorsport McLaren sixth. The sister 570S starts one place further back in the hands of Warren Hughes and series debutants Jan Klingelnberg.
Ben Hurst and Adam Hatfield line-up ahead of Century Motorsport’s other BMW shared by Team Tegiwa duo David Whitmore and Luke Sedzikowski.
Elsewhere, the Speedworks Toyota that had looked like a solid bet for pole in practice and Q1 will start from the back after a brake issue prevented Sam Smelt from taking part in the second session.
Sunday’s race gets underway at 12:45 BST. Watch it live on British GT’s website and Facebook page, as well as SRO’s Youtube and Twitch channels, from 12:25.