Kelvin Fletcher and Martin Plowman are celebrating their first pole position as Paddock Motorsport after claiming the top spot ahead of round 7 of the 2021 Intelligent Money British GT Championship from Oulton Park. Fletcher had the Bentley Continental GT3 for the opening session of qualifying which ended slightly early after a high speed accident for the Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR of Andrew Howard. Team Parker Racing took pole for race 2 as reward after a troubling pair of race meetings at Spa and Snetterton, Scott Malvern putting together a near perfect lap to best Yelmer Buurman by just 0.005 seconds.
In GT4 it was honours to Newbridge Motorsport. The duo of Matt Topham and Darren Turner set the standard in the third and fourth sessions and the #27 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT4 will have a clear view for both of tomorrow’s one hour encounters.
GT3 Am Qualifying – Formidable Fletcher Tops Curtailed Quali.
Not initially a candidate for pole position, 9th and 6th in the two free practice sessions hinted at reasonable if not pole setting pace, the Paddock Motorsport Bentley triumphed in a session which could have gone any number of ways. Kelvin Fletcher had the duty for the first of two ten minute outings for the GT3 cars by a combination of strong pace and great luck when the music stopped prematurely, topped the timesheets.
First to top the timesheets was the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO of Michael Igoe and Phil Keen. The WPI Motorsport machine, at the hands of Igoe, lost out to series debutant Kevin Tse of RAM Racing. The Macanese driver subsequently lost out to Fletcher who could have taken pole with his first effort. A second chance saw the TV star turned race driver improve his pace by three tenths which topped the pile as the red flags came out.
The red flag was for Andrew Howard, who thankfully emerged unharmed from a massive accident on Lakeside, who lost control of #7 Aston Martin, impacted the barrier on drivers left and ended up in the gravel at the Shell Oils Hairpin. Whilst Howard was uninjured in the accident the same cannot be said of the car which needs an overnight chassis change and will surrender 4th place on the grid as a result of the 10 place penalty that change incurs.
Late in the session, Morgan Tillbrook topped the time sheets but lost his time after track limits infringements at the Cascades. He still managed to put in a decent time, the #77 Enduro Motorsport McLaren will start in third place, alongside erstwhile pole sitter Igoe. Tse sits on the outside of the front row.
Team ABBA Racing took sixth place on the road but move up as a result of the penalty for Beechdean. Richard Neary will start the race in fifth alongside Barwell Motorsport’s Leo Machitski. Adam Balon’s Barwell machine should sit in eighth but instead gets promoted to seventh thanks to the Beechdean chassis swap, then demoted to the back of the GT3 field as a result of the engine change given to the #1 car between first and second practice.
Thankfully for Barwell, the lesser penalty is applied first so the Smoothie Magnate starts ahead of the man with the Ice Cream factory.
Ian Loggie for RAM Racing starts seventh ahead of Team Parker Racing’s Nick Jones with Stewart Proctor for Balfe Motorsport in ninth ahead of the penalised runners.
GT3 Pro Qualifying – Malvern Sets the Pace in Pro Session.
The second session, delayed whilst the marshals and circuit staff saw to the damaged barriers on Lakeside, could very well be one that British GT aficionados talk about for years to come. 0.005 seconds decided the top spot, less than two tenths of a second split the top five!
On the top of the pile was Scott Malvern whose Team Parker Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R was quickly up to speed. As with most of the pro sessions, tyres only held on for a couple of fast laps and it was on the third tour of the 2.6 mile Oulton Park International circuit that Scott Malvern put in the fastest time. 1:33.924 played .929 at the end of the session with Dennis Lind for Barwell right on the Porsche’s shapely back bumper. Sandy Mitchell held provisional pole for a matter of seconds, his fastest lap was disallowed for track limits so his fifth lap had to suffice. A 1:34.011 puts him third on the grid ahead of RAM Racing’s Yelmer Buurman, which was lucky. Three of the six laps completed by the reigning champion were disallowed.
Marcus Clutton actually disappointed in qualifying. Enduro Motorsport could reasonably have expected better than fifth place from the circuits resident Professional Racing Driver. His #77 McLaren still claims fastest 720S GT3 and slots in ahead of the race 1 pole sitting car of Martin Plowman. Tom Onslow-Cole for RAM put the guesting Mercedes into seventh ahead of Phil Keen’s WPI Lamborghini.
That in itself is major news, its breaks a run of three consecutive pole positions in British GT at Oulton Park for Phil Keen.
Lewis Proctor for Balfe Motorsport took ninth ahead of Team ABBA Racing’s Mercedes. Of course Beechdean AMR couldn’t take part in the session as a result of the significant damage incurred ten minutes earlier.
GT4 Am Qualifying – Newbridge Motorsport Celebrate Topham’s Maiden Pole.
The GT4 session wasn’t as close as in GT3 but was similarly interrupted by a red flag at the end. Initially Will Moore’s Ford Mustang took the top spot in the session, which should in theory have marked the end. A Mustang favouring circuit and a quick silver driver meant that there was little hope of an upset here after two surprising poles in GT3 qualifying.
Matt Topham very quickly corrected that interpretation by dropping into the top spot, only to improve again on his third lap to assure himself pole position. A reminder that Topham is an Amateur driver, the next Am placed 10th overall!
Behind the rapid Am, eight silver drivers battled for supremacy. Of course Will Burns put in a storming lap to leapfrog Academy Motorsport’s Mustang but couldn’t best the Aston Martin. The #57 Century Motorsport BMW isn’t officially champion elect but a win in race one, coupled to 7th or lower for their team mates, (who start in 7th place) will assure Burns and Gus Burton of the Silver Cup and Overall British GT4 titles at the end of race 1 tomorrow.
Steller Motorsport will start race 1 in fourth place thanks to team owner Richard Williams with a brace of Team Rocket RJN McLarens behind. Michael Benyahia triumphed over team mate Harry Hayek in the battle of the McLaren DDP cars ahead of the Chris Selkeld driven BMW in 7th place.
Selkeld was one of five drivers to lose their fastest time to track limits rules. He was joined by the #61 Mustang, the #15 Toyota GR Supra GT4 of John Fergusson, the #25 Car Gods by Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes and Mark Samson’s Assetto Motorsport Ginetta.
Eighth on the grid went to Balfe Motorsport’s Ashley Marshall, sharing the #90 McLaren with Jack Brown. Ashley outpaced the hot-shot pairing of James Kell and Jordan Collard, Kell at the wheel, for RJN with the Toyota Gazoo Racing Supra rounding out the top ten.
The session wasn’t cut short by an accident this time but that doesn’t mean all cars got off without damage. The #40 Fox Motorsport McLaren managed to find the barriers at Brittens Chicane and required recovery. It delayed the second qualifying session and assured Jamie Stanley wouldn’t take part. Nick Halstead was unharmed in the accident and the team set to rebuilding the 570S, fuelled by copious quantities of pizza overnight.
GT4 Pro Qualifying – Double Delight for Darren Turner.
Whilst claiming pole position is always a high point in a racing drivers day, Aston Martin Professional driver Darren Turner was hard pressed to deicide if he was happier about his own pole position or that of his amateur driver Matt Topham. Turner’s top spot was more assured at the start of the session, one of only four Pro graded drivers in the field and by far the most experienced of the two who hold factory contracts.
That being said, fellow pro drives Jamie Caroline for Toyota Gazoo Racing and Charlie Robertson for Assetto Motorsport weren’t going to go down without a fight. The two traded fastest laps but neither could get closer than 0.226 seconds. The fourth pro on the grid is Jake Giddings whose Car Gods by Cicely Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 will start the second race tomorrow from seventh place.
The fight for silver supremacy raged between Sennan Fielding’s Steller Motorsport Audi and champion elect Gus Burton. Eventually Fielding would win out for fourth place with the Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang of Matt Cowley in sixth place, the top three in Silver Cup covered by less than a second.
Team Rocket RJN took eighth, ninth and twelfth respectively. Jordan Collard took the top McLaren honour in the white and yellow #2 machine ahead of Benyahia’s team mate Alain Valente in the #3. Katie Milner’s #4 machine starts last of the qualifiers without the excuse of lap times disallowed which her team mates can claim.
Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke placed tenth in the #9 machine ahead of the #90 Balfe Motorsport entry qualified by Jack Brown. Alarmingly half of the entries to the session lost at least one lap time to track limits, Gus Burton lost two times and the #9 lost three laps over the 10 minute session.
The first of two Intelligent Money British GT Championship races from Oulton Park gets underway at 13:30 tomorrow morning with race two at 16:25. Both races are available to watch live via BritishGT.com/live.