Johnston and Adam take pole for the British GT finale at Donington

The TF Sport car flew to pole (Photo by Marc Waller)

The TF Sport car flew to pole (Photo by Marc Waller)Derek Johnston and Jonny Adam will start tomorrow’s British GT championship finale at Donington Park in the best possible position after taking pole during today’s qualifying session.

They topped both the Am and Pro sessions meaning their combined time couldn’t be beaten. In GT4, Championship contender Jack Bartholomew now backed up by last year’s GT4 champion (Alongside Jamie Chadwick) Ross Gunn took pole.

After the practice sessions were both held in constant rain, the weather had finally brightened up as the GT3 cars headed on track for the first of the four qualifying sessions which made up the final British GT qualifying of the season. Both TF Sport Aston Martin’s had barely run in practice as they felt that running in wet conditions wouldn’t help them with dry weather forecast for the rest of the weekend.

They were proved right when Johnston topped the timing screens in the Am session with minimal running beforehand. The Demon Tweeks Lamborghini of Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen looked set to join the Aston on the front row when a last minute lap by Andrew Howard put the Beechdean Aston up to second.

When the Pro drivers came out, Jonny Adam kept the TF sport car at the top of the timing screens to secure the top spot. His time of 1:27.602 was two tenths faster than the next nearest Pro; Rob Bell in the Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren. Unfortunately for Bell, his team mate Alisdair McCaig wasn’t as quick leaving them sixth overall.

Jonny Adam spoke about their session;

“We had a conversation at the start of the day about what to do if it rained, which it did, and the plan was to preserve the car for when it dried out. Derek’s lap was good but I actually think there was a bit more in him. He was quicker when we tested here a few weeks ago, which bodes well for tomorrow. However, Minshaw also looked good and I’m sure Phil [Keen] will be up to speed in the race, so the ball’s still in their court. If they were fifth or sixth then it’s a bit more mixed up at the start. Consistency will be key for all of the Ams; we’ll see where we are after the opening stint.”

Rob Bell was optimistic he could do something in tomorrow’s race;

“It’s been a difficult day after it rained this morning but I actually enjoy those tricky situations when you’re chucked in at the deep end. Some of the corner profiles have changed now they’ve added sausage curbs; I’m an experienced driver but still learning, so just built up to it and fortunately the last lap came together nicely, so I was pretty happy with it. We’ve got nothing to lose tomorrow, unlike a few of the other guys, so who knows. Hopefully we can go out on a high.”

Phil Keen lost out on pole after going off (Photo by Marc Waller) Jamie Chadwick was fast but Paul Hollywood struggled (Photo by Marc Waller) Fox Motorsport had a great return (Photo by Marc Waller) Disaster struck for the Beechdean GT3 car (Photo by Marc Waller)




Phil Keen threw the Barwell Demon Tweeks Lamborghini off the road in his attempts to find a quick time but some slight damage caused to the bodywork as the car leapt back onto the track slowed the car and left him in third with the second Barwell Lamborghini of Liam Griffin and Alexander Sims alongside them in fourth.

Keen is hopeful they can take the championship fight to their TF sport rivals despite his mistake in qualifying;

“Third doesn’t reflect the car’s potential but at least we’re in the mix for tomorrow. I guess the biggest issue is I didn’t test here so those were my first laps in the dry around Donington in the Lambo. Maybe I tried a bit too hard a bit too early and ran a bit wide. But at least Jon’s on fire this weekend and driving really well.”

Seb Morris and Rick Parfitt Jr are also championship contenders but their Bentley starts fifth as surprisingly it was Seb Morris that was slow in his session with Rick Parfitt only 0.127 seconds off Derek Johnston. Morris could only manage seventh in his session and they now have only an outside chance of taking the championship as they need a race win. The second TF Sport Aston of Mark Farmer and Jon Barnes was sixth. The Tolman Ginetta of Mike Simpson and Ian Stinton was seventh having been quickest in the wet. The team had hoped the rain might last the day but with the track now dry they couldn’t get close to the front runners. The sole Motorbase Aston Martin of Phil Dryburgh and Ross Wylie was eighth ahead of the Team Abba BMW and the second Tolman Ginetta.

The biggest disappointment came for the Beechdean Aston Martin. Having been second in the first session, a car failure left them unable to compete in the pro session and Rory Butcher couldn’t set a time so they start eleventh and last of the GT3 cars.

Beechdeans Gunn and Bartholomew take GT4 pole (Photo by Marc Waller) Anna Walewska just missed out on a top ten grid slot (Photo by Marc Waller) Abbie Eaton is the best placed of the girls on the grid (Photo by Marc Waller) The GT4 Mclaren could have taken pole (Photo by Marc Waller)




Things went much better for Beechdean in GT4 with Jack Bartholomew taking pole with Ross Gunn. They were 0.147 seconds ahead of second. The Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse Mclaren GT4 had been on pole after the first session with the Generation AMR Aston in second. But Ross Gunn’s second session time stole the GT4 top spot. It was the fastest lap of the day and half a second faster than Ciaran Haggerty’s lap in the Mclaren ensuring that dropped to second place.

Bartholomew was grateful to Gunn for his part in the session;

“Ross has given me the best opportunity possible of bringing the championship back to Beechdean AMR for a third time. Obviously we’ve got our main competitors right behind us so it won’t be easy, especially as we also have to try and pull five seconds on them to make up for the pit-stop success penalty. So it’s going to be a challenge but we’ll see what we can do. I feel like there was definitely more in me during my session but I’ll take pole any day of the week.”

Haggerty explained that he’d spun away his fastest lap;

“The car was good; just a bit of oversteer, which is why I spun! Still, the time was good enough for the front row and I’m happy with how the session went. Sandy also did a good job. We’ve done a lot of testing since Snetterton and are now really on the pace. That bodes well for the race; speed-wise I think we can challenge the Aston, especially as their time penalty will help us out.”

The PMW Expo Racing/Optimum Motorsport Ginetta is next up despite only being seventh in the first session with Graham Johnson, Mike Robinson took the third fastest time of the day to pull the car up to third behind their main rivals.

Graham Johnson was pleased with team mate Mike’s lap;

“The car felt the best it has done all year, but I’m worried we won’t be quick enough to challenge the Aston tomorrow. I still had a couple of tenths in me but Mike’s lap was mega. He was three tenths quicker than the rest of the Ginettas but unfortunately we’re not fighting them for the title. It’s going to be difficult for us but we’ll give it our best shot.”

This dropped the Generation AMR car to fourth. The Lanan Racing Ginetta of Alex Reed And Joey Foster was fifth and they are aiming to end up third in the title hunt in Sunday’s finale having moved out of contention for overall honours at the previous round.

Fox Motorsport return in their Ginetta G55 with Jamie Stanley joined by a new team mate; Sam Webster. Webster is making his British GT debut and sixth on the grid was a great start for the duo.
The GPRM run Toyota GT86 returns for the finale too and they managed to take seventh with Stefan Hodgetts and James Fletcher.

The RCIB Insurance Racing Ginetta of William Philips and Jordan Stilp ended up eighth after slipping from fourth after the first session. The second RCIB Ginetta of Robert Barrable and Aron Mason ended up last after Mason crashed the car in the first session leaving Barrable with no chance to set a time.

Abbie Eaton is the first of the female drivers in ninth alongside her team mate Marcus Hoggarth in their Ebor GT Maserati. Tenth was the Ultratek Lotus Evora of Tim Eakin and Gavan Kershaw.

Anna Walewska just missed out on the top ten with her team mate Nathan Freke’s time combining with hers, eleventh was the best they could do.

Jamie Chadwick was eighth in her session but with the inexperienced (to racing) Paul Hollywood struggling in his session, they dropped to fourteenth on the grid.

Full event details can be found on TSL timing;

Sunday’s finale starts at 1pm and will be shown on Motors TV along with the support program. Tickets are available on the gate for those of you close enough to pop down and with sunny weather forecast it should be a great day.

By the end of the race tomorrow we will finally know the indentity of the 2016 British GT champions. By Marc Waller

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