Enduro Motorsport's McLaren has claimed a commanding pole position for Round 4 of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship after Morgan Tillbrook and Marcus Clutton topped their respective qualifying sessions at Donington Park earlier this afternoon. Meanwhile, Steller Motorsport's points-leading Audi starts up front in GT4 thanks to the combined efforts of Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding who made it three pole positions in four attempts.
The 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG finished a combined 0.383s down on Enduro's GT3 pace-setting pair, but that was still enough for James Cottingham and Lewis Williamson to beat Adam Balon and Sandy Mitchell (Barwell Motorsport, Lamborghini) to second overall.
Further back, Fielding couldn't quite cap Steller's day by setting GT4's fastest time. Instead, Darren Turner produced a new qualifying lap record – just as Clutton had in GT3 – to vault the Newbridge Motorsport Aston Martin he shares with Matt Topham up to second overall and first in Pro-Am. And R Racing's Josh Miller and Jamie Day underlined the Vantage's raw pace by pinching third from Academy's Mustang by just 0.005s.
GT3: ENDURO’S McLAREN TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Just 0.3s covered the top-six at the end of an incredibly tight first 10 minutes, although it would have been a little more without Tillbrook's fastest time being removed.
In fact, Q1’s pace setter had two laps chalked off for track limits infringements – the second of which was 0.1s quicker than anyone else – but still ended up fastest by just 0.009s from Ian Loggie who reduced RAM Racing's deficit on his final flying lap.
2 Seas' James Cottingham also featured at the front throughout Q1 and finished only 0.063s behind Tillbrook, while early table topper Balon slotted into fourth another tenth-and-a-half behind.
Richard Neary (Team Abba Racing) and Alex Malykhin (Redline Racing) completed the tight top-six at half-time.
British GT's combined qualifying format ensured any one of the first half-dozen could still have taken pole. But Clutton had other ideas and immediately set about putting P1 beyond doubt.
His first flying lap would, as it turned out, have been fast enough to seal pole. But there was a little left in the tank and Enduro's McLaren eventually lowered the qualifying record to 1m25.460s.
No-one else could get within two tenths of that, although 2 Seas and Barwell both picked up a place at RAM Racing's expense. Lewis Williamson went from third to second, while Mitchell set Q2's second fastest time to also leapfrog Callum Macleod in the overall classification.
Behind, James Dorlin managed to turn Redline's 0.006s deficit into a combined half-tenth advantage over Sam Neary and Team Abba Racing who dropped back a place to sixth overall. The top-two Silver-Am entries should be lining up side by side tomorrow but driving standards penalty points accrued over the first three races will see Redline’s Lamborghini start 10th thanks to its five-place grid drop.
Balfe Motorsport's Audi shared by Shaun Balfe and Adam Carroll ended both sessions seventh overall but joins Abba on row three thanks to Redline’s penalty. That has also elevated RAM's other Mercedes-AMG featuring John Ferguson and Ulysse De Pauw who'd earlier topped FP2, as well as WPI's Lamborghini and the Assetto Bentley.
GT4: ANOTHER STELLER QUALIFYING SESSION FOR WILLIAMS AND FIELDING
Williams and Fielding are fast earning themselves the moniker of GT4 ‘Qualifying Kings’ after yet again nailing their single-lap pace to snatch Steller’s third pole position from the opening four races.
Much of the hard work was done by Williams during the opening session, but the pair were also helped by issues hitting their closest challengers.
Josh Miller set Q1’s early benchmark aboard R Racing’s Aston Martin but was closely followed by FP2 pace setter Freddie Tomlinson and the Assetto Motorsport Ginetta, which initially lapped 0.063s slower. However, when Williams pumped in a time almost half-a-second faster, the job was essentially done. Miller responded with an improved time, but still finished 0.16s down on the R8.
Notable for its absence near the top of the times was Team Parker Racing’s Porsche Cayman, which suffered a mysterious loss of power that left Jamie Orton mired at the foot of the times. Lapping six seconds off the pace left the car he shares with Seb Hopkins no hope of challenging for pole as practice pace suggested it might.
Regardless, the second half still promised a three-way fight for top spot, with the Steller Audi, R Racing Aston and Assetto Ginetta covered by less than 0.2s. Newbridge weren’t out of contention, either, after Matt Topham handed the team’s Aston Martin over to Darren Turner 0.36s adrift of top spot.
Turner duly delivered the goods, going fastest of all on a 1m34.001s, but with Fielding third fastest and just two tenths down on Turner’s best, the pole position was Steller’s by a combined 0.254s.
Jamie Day backed up Miller’s earlier performance to seal third for R Racing, but only by 0.005s from Matt Cowley and Marco Signoretti’s Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang which was consistently quick in both sessions en route to fourth.
Tom Edgar and Jordan Collard line up fifth in the Toyota Gazoo Racing UK GR Supra, ahead of Ross Wylie/Matthew Graham in Valluga Racing’s Porsche Cayman.
Jack Brown and Will Burns made it six different brands in the top-seven by putting their #90 Century Motorsport BMW seventh ahead of the sister M4 shared by Tom Rawlings and Chris Salkeld.
But Assetto’s Ginetta, which had figured so strongly in Q1, suffered an electrical gremlin early in part two, which left the car also featuring Joe Wheeler down in ninth overall.
Further back, Hopkins produced a stunning effort to go second fastest overall in Team Parker’s Cayman and just 0.076s slower than Turner. However, the Porsche’s Q1 troubles mean it has work to do from the back of GT4’s grid.
Watch it and the other 29 cars tackle Donington’s three-hour enduro from 12:35 BST on Sunday. Live coverage, which is available on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel, The Race and Motorsport TV, begins at 12:10.