Poles for Barwell and Beechdean as British GT goes to Rockingham

Beechdean took the GT4 pole (Photo by Marc Waller)The second meeting of the Avon Tyres British GT championship takes place at Rockingham during the May bank holiday weekend and Saturday was qualifying.

Anna Walewska joins the championship from this round partnered by the experienced Rob Garofall in the University of Bolton run Ginetta G55 GT4. Sadly we also lose a female driver as Chloe Edwards has been replaced for budgetary reasons by George White in the Stratton Motorsport Aston Martin GT4. We also won’t see BTCC star Mat Jackson racing in this round with Oman Racng (Motorbase) down to two cars. AMD Tuning, the BTCC team, who have entered a Porsche 911 Gt4 into British GT this season have also swapped drivers. Team Boss Shaun Hollmaby has decided to stand down from driving and he has drafted in, Jake Hill to replace him. The quick young driver is due to partner Graham Coomes for the rest of the season

This time the qualifying sessions were split into four, setting the grid for a single race. First up were two sessions for the GT3 cars, with the amateur rated drivers out in the first session followed by the Pro rated drivers in the second. The GT4 cars then followed on the same basis. The two best laps by each driver were then combined and the pair with the best combined time starts from pole.

In GT3 initially it was Andrew Watson in the Von Ryan Mclaren who set the pace. Next up was Ahmad Al Harthy and Rory Butcher in the two Oman Racing Aston Martins. Andrew Howard was fourth in the Beechdean Aston with Marco Attard fifth in the Barwell Ecurie Ecosse BMW.

But the next session was to turn things around with Alexander Sims setting an excellent time to move the pairing up to pole.
Marco was pleased;

“I’m really happy with that. I was fifth with a couple of silver drivers ahead of me and couldn’t have got much more out of the car. Then Alexander put in a stunning lap – it was just fantastic! The car feels great now; the team have done a superb job and really got it together.”

Pole for Ecurie Ecosse (Photo by Marc Waller) Beechdean took second in GT3 (Photo by Marc Waller) Fourth in GT3 for TF sport (Photo by Marc Waller) Anna Walewska joins the championship with a team from Bolton University (Photo by Marc Waller) Third in Gt4 (Photo by Marc Waller)

Sims was just as happy;

“We’re very pleased. I think we made great progress from practice to get everything how we wanted it, so real credit goes to the team. Marco did a really good job, too. The race is a different story, but it’s definitely nice to start from the front.”

Jonny Adam had earlier set a lap to briefly move Beechdean onto pole but they ended up second. Adam was still happy with his position;

“This isn’t the strongest circuit for the Aston so a front-row start is fantastic. I think we’re really good on heavy fuel, so we’ll be able to perform in the race. The weather looks like it will be mixed but we’re pretty confident in the wet. We’re definitely targeting some valuable points tomorrow.”

Third was the Oman Racing Aston Martin of Al Harthy and Lloyd after Daniel Lloyd set an excellent second session time. Ahmad was pleased with his performance;

“I had a good session and am really happy with my time. Everything was perfect; the team did a great job balancing the car and, from my side, it was just about putting it together. Third is a good place to start. If it rains or if it’s dry, we’re ready for it.”

Al Harthy and Lloyd were just ahead of Derek Johnston and Matt Bell, Bell doing a great job in moving them up the field. The second Oman Racing Aston of Butcher and Liam Griffin was fifth with sixth being taken by the Barwell Bmw of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen. The Von Ryan Mclaren which had been on top after one session fell to seventh.

The GT4 battle was less close with the incredible pairing of Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn staying on top of their class throughout both of their sessions. Both drivers along with their senior Beechdean team mates plus Harry Whale won the Dunlop 24 hours at Silverstone less than a week before and they seemed to be still on a high. With all of their success it’s easy to forget how young they are with Gunn being 18 and Chadwick just 16, still too young to drive on the road!

Chadwick actually thought she could have done better still;

“There were yellow flags early in my session, so I had to manage that and decide when to push. I was careful to talk to the team so that I didn’t miss the tyre window. I feel I could’ve got a bit more out of the car if I hadn’t been behind traffic, but the balance was mega and the team did a faultless job. We’re delighted with the result and happy to be starting on pole. We know we have a reliable car for tomorrow.”

Gunn, on the other hand thought he’d got the maximum;

“That was absolutely fantastic – the car was amazing! I think I missed the peak of the tyre, but other than that I gave all I had. It was a really good, smooth lap after Jamie had done a fantastic job before me. We have no penalty in the pit stop and a reliable car so fingers crossed for tomorrow!”

Second place was a surprise with the GPRM Toyota GT86 having it’s best result to date with Stefen Hodgetts and Richard Williams behind the wheel. Williams expressed how they felt about their result;
“I’m happy with how things went today. Obviously to be on the front row is a great result for us, and a reward for the team’s hard work since Oulton Park. We’ve taken a real step forward with the car so we’re happy – and very ready for tomorrow!”

Third was the Will Moore and Denis Strandberg Aston run by Academy Motorsport who had a fight for that spot with Fox Motorsport (Jamie Stanley and Paul Mcneily) and Issy Racing (Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw) for the position with Fox edging out Issy for fourth.

AMD Tuning took seventh with their new driver, inside the top half of the GT4 field.

Anna Walewska was eighth in class with Rob Garofall for their debut. With her and the team new to the championship, they are still learning the best set ups for the car and drivers and so eighth is a strong start. Things sadly went less well for Jade Edwards who was in thirteenth in class with team mate George White.

Full times are on TSL timing.
The race gets underway at 13:25 on Sunday with the race being shown live on Motors TV from 13:00. Tickets are available from the gate if you want to attend in person. By Marc Waller

The Von Ryan team missed out on pole after looking strong in the first session (Photo by Marc Waller) The Toyota GT86 got it's best result yet with second in GT4 (Photo by Marc Waller) Fourth for Fox in Gt4 (Photo by Marc Waller) Oman took third (Photo by Marc Waller) Jake Hill joins Graham Coomes (Photo by Marc Waller)

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