Ginetta head qualifying for the Dunlop 24 hours at Silverstone

Ginetta are on pole with their LMP3 prototype powered by Nissan (photo by Marc Waller)The Dunlop 24 hour race is at Silverstone this weekend and today sees qualifying with the race starting at 4pm tomorrow.

There is also a night qualifying session on Friday evening but as this sees slower times due to lower temperatures it’s the afternoon session that sets the grid.

This year is the first time the race has been run since 2012 and the race has been moved from Spetember to April but with the forecast for showers it looks like the weather may be similar despite the move! Twenty nine cars set out to qualify in dry sunny condition and we have everything from a Works Ginetta Nissan LMP3 car all the way down to a production specification Ford Fiesta ST competing. The varied grid is sure to see some huge speed differentials and the closing speeds between the fastest and slowest cars will be immense. As well as the usual challenges of a 24 hour race such as keeping the car going and looking after the tyres, a major challenge for the faster cars will be lapping the slower cars safely.

Perhaps unsurprisingly the Ginetta took pole position in qualifying. The driver line up includes Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomilinson, works Ginetta driver Mike Simpson, Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy, Charlie Robertson and Gaetan Pai. The MJC Ferrari 430 GT2 was next up, some 3 seconds off the Ginetta. The line up there includes, owner Witt Gamski, Phil Dryburgh, Rory Butcher and Joe Macari. Third is the works Radical RXC V8 Prototype driven by Laurence Wiltshire, Chahin Nouri, Martyn Smith and Richard Roberts. They were just under a second and a half off second.

Although they gaps between the cars is higher than you might see in something like a sprint race, the race could still be very close with reliability and incidents coming into play especially when the race enters the overnight phase and drivers feel tired.

In fourth was the first of the GT3 spec cars, the Audi R8 of Peter Cook, Franck Pelle, Phillip Hopkins, Adam Sharpe and Steven Ritchie. Fifth is the Porsche 911 GT3 that has come over from Europe with Marco Schlep. Michael Tischner, Willie Moore, Jim Geddie and former BTCC driver Glyn Geddie.

There’s another former BTCC driver in sixth in the MARC cars Ford Focus V8. Tom Onslow-Cole heads the line up with also features Paul White, Ben Gersekowski and Gary Jacobson.

There’s a famous name next up in the Simon Green run Jaguar XKR-S GT3. Freddie Hunt, son Of James Hunt is in the driving line up alongside Green himself and Nigel Rata. With only three drivers the team will have to split the stints between them and will find thing tough. The two Top Cats Marcos Mantis are eighth and ninth with Nigel Pike, Paul Black, Joachim Bolting and Pat Gormley in the first of them beating Paul Stephens, Gery Taylor, Owen O’Neil and Neil Huggins in the second car.

Tenth is the Beachdean Aston Martin GT4 from British GT. Jamie Chadwick is driving in her first 24 hours alongside regular team mate Ross Gunn. Joining them from the “senior” team are beachdean boss Andrew Howard and Johnny Adam. The team lead their class and should be front runners for at least a class win.

Tom Onslow Cole Shares one of two MARC Ford Focus with roaring V8 engines (Photo by Marc Waller) The Audi was quickest GT3 car (photo by Marc Waller) past winners MJC are second on the grid (Photo by Marc Waller) Radical take third (Photo by Marc Waller) Alice Powells  Aston Martin Gt4 (Photo by Marc Waller) Alice Powells  Aston Martin Gt4 (Photo by Marc Waller) Jamie Chadwicks team look quick (Photo by Marc Waller) The Fiesta is slowest but will it be last (Photo by Marc Waller)

The other female drive in the race is Alice Powell. She is also racing in her first 24 hour race and she hasn’t raced since winning the Formula Renault Asia championship last year. She is joined in the car by Andrew Palmer, Marek Reichman and Journalist Andrew Frankel. They are nineteenth but third in class and if the car keeps going they look a good bet for at least a class podium.

Twenty eight of the twenty nine entries set a time in qualifying with the Ford Fiesta being unsurprisingly last on the grid. The car, which other than some modifications for refuelling is exactly the same as you’d find in the BRSCC Ford Fiesta championship. Where they lack in lap time they may gain in fuel efficiency and it will be interesting to see how far up the field they can get. Paul Mensley drives with Nick Boon, James Ashton, Mike Nash and Paul Anderton.

The Alex Osbourne Porsche GT4 failed to set a time but Alex along with Paul and James May (No not that one!) may be one of the few cars that can move up the grid in night qualifying.

The full times and grid are available from TSL timing
We’ll be reporting on the race but if you aren’t far from Silverstone why not come down and watch in person? There’s free pit walks and a chance for all spectators to go on the grid before the race. Tickets are available on the gate. By Marc Waller 


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