But with a 20 pit stop “success” penalty, they will have to drive just as quickly for Sunday’s race.
They had also headed second practice and so were always one of the favourites for pole. It was Derek Johnston’s lap in the ‘Am’ session that sealed it as he edged out Alasdair McCaig’s Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse by 0.140 seconds. Rockingham is very abrasive and so drivers were finding that, in general, their first flying lap was their best.
Johnston couldn’t have been happier with pole;
“It’s just brilliant. We worked on it all day and I put my complete faith in the car and tyres. I can’t remember the lap, to be honest; I was totally in the zone. But then when I came across the line I forgot it was faster than the time I’d set this morning! It wasn’t until halfway around that I realised a 1m17.4s was six tenths quicker! Box the car, job done. Obviously tomorrow, with the success penalty, we’ll struggle to replicate our Brands win, but a top-five would feel like a victory. We’ll need a lot of luck to get on the podium.”
McCaig was also happy with his second on the grid in the car he shares with Rob Bell;
“Brands was a messy one for us but here everything ran smoothly and the car felt good. It was very close between Derek and I so we’re in a good position for tomorrow, even if it’s a very long race. On used tyres the general pace was good this morning, but we’ll need to look after them tomorrow because Rockingham’s track surface is very abrasive.”
Third was Liam Griffin in the am session half a second off the two front runners in his Barwell Lamborghini Hurracan but Adam Caroll’s time left them fourth overall with Beachdean snatching third after Ross Gunn set a stunning lap in the pro session to boost him and Andrew Howard up the grid. Gunn was pleased to finish where he did on a track he thinks doesn’t suit the car;
It’s not really a front-engine circuit but there was still a bit more time in the final sector that I couldn’t quite find. Other than that the lap was good, especially as we went from only running used tyres in practice straight to a new set in qualifying. Our long run pace looks good but the abrasive surface is a bit of an unknown in terms of who it will suit best. Another consistent top-five finish would be ideal. Andrew’s won here before and I did the same last year so we know what’s required, although I still have plenty to learn about the car in race trim.”
It left Johnny Adam and Rob Bell, the only two drivers who could realistically try and secure pole in the pro session and it was 2015 Champion Johnny Adam who pulled it off.
Fifth is the other Barwell Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen with Keen’s lap being particularly impressive, the 1:15.871 being 2.5 seconds quicker than the last time the GTs used this configuration of Rockingham back in 2011.
AMD tuning’s duo of Lee Mowle and Joe Osbourne are sixth ahead of Will Moore and Ryan Radcliffe’s Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.
Eighth was the first of the Tolman Ginettas, Ian Stinton and Mike Simpson are behind the wheel of that car with Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie ninth in their Motorbase Aston Martin which has been totally rebuilt since it’s massive crash in the opening round. Rounding out the top ten were Richard Neary and Martin Short in the Rollcentre Racing BMW Z4 GT3.
The HPR Aston Martin missed the session (and the rest of the day) wth engine issues and they start from the back along with the Team Parker racing Bentley of Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris which has a massive crash in practice.
The GT4 grid is just behind and it was the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta of Graham Johnson and Mike Robinson which came out on top ahead of the Century Motorsport Ginetta of Aleksander Schjerpen and Sean Bryne. The new Mclaren 570S GT4 was next up with Sandy Mitchell and Ciaran Haggerty. Jamie Chadwick was the best female driver in fourth with team mate Mathew George in the Generation AMR Aston Martin. Chadwick’s car from 2015 was behind her, this year with Jack Bartholomew and Jordan Albert in control. Then came another young gun crew of Jordan Stilp and William Philips in their RCIB Insurance Racing (Team Hard) Ginetta ahead of the second of the Generation AMR Astons of Mathew Graham and Jack Mitchell. Eighth was the Nick Jones and Scott Malvern Ginetta G55 GT4 ahead of Kieran Griffin and Jake Giddings in the JW Bird Aston Martin.
Abbie Eaton rounded out the top ten in the spectacular Ebor GT run Maserati Gran Turismo co driven by Marcus Hoggarth.
Anna Walewska was out of luck though, after being fastest all day in practice, the car developed a fault after two timed laps. With the car unable to run in the second session for Nathan Freke, the duo are forced to start from the back.
Full times are available as always from TSL timing;
Sunday’s race starts at 1pm with a ten minute warm up session at 9:25am. There is also a pitlane walkabout during the lunchbreak.
Tickets are available at the gate at Rockingham By Marc Waller