The #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley will start both of Monday’s British GT races from pole position, following strong performances from its drivers Rick Parfitt and Seb Morris in Saturday’s pair of 10-minute qualifying sessions at Oulton Park. GT4 class poles for the two races were won by Sandy Mitchell in the #100 Garage 59 McLaren and Mike Simpson in the #111 Century Motorsport Ginetta respectively.
Parfitt will start Monday’s first British GT race from pole position in the #31 Bentley, following a close battle with Jack Mitchell and Jon Minshaw for the place in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying. Mitchell in the #24 Macmillan Aston (below) held the advantage early on, clocking a 1:35.863 before a red flag at the five-minute mark due to a car beached at Deer Leap brought a temporary halt to proceedings.
After the restart, Parfitt put his Continental GT3 at the top of the timing screens, then a back-and-forth battle saw Mitchell retake provisional pole before Parfitt lowered the bar again to 1:35.495. Minshaw then entered the fray in the #33 Barwell Lamborghini, stopping the clock at 1:35.362, but Parfitt had more in the tank and put in one more flyer of 1:34.932 to ensure his spot at the head of the field.
Morris made it a pole-position lockout for the #31 Bentley in the second GT3 qualifying session, mirroring his co-driver Parfitt’s performance in the first 10 minutes. The Sunoco Challenge winner’s time was a 1:32.993 – the first-ever sub-1:33 lap of the Oulton Park circuit by a GT3 car.
Phil Keen in the #33 Lamborghini (above) improved on his first benchmark of 1:33.441, but although he improved to a 1:33.1 before the end of the session, it wasn’t enough to eclipse Morris’ effort.
Callum MacLeod looked set to make it a Team Parker Bentley 1-3 courtesy of his 1:33.716, but a last-minute effort from Sam Tordoff in the #6 Barwell Lamborghini put that car into third and demoted the Bentley to fourth, ahead of the #11 Jon Barnes-driven TF Sport Aston Martin in fifth.
The #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage and #21 Spirit Of Race Ferrari 488 will start from the back of the grid for both GT3 races, due to the absence of Jonny Adam and Matt Griffin owing to WEC and ELMS commitments at Silverstone.
Sandy Mitchell got his 2017 season off to the best possible start by clinching race-one pole position in the #100 Garage 59 McLaren (below) with a time of 1:43.103.
HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha recorded a 1:43.119 to go second-fastest. The Ginetta driver outpaced third-pace qualifier Will Moore in the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston, who was just over a second off pole with his 1:44.118 effort.
Completing the second row was William Phillips in another Aston Martin, the #42 Macmillan entry, while the regining champion PMW Expo Ginetta will line up fifth and the second Garage 59 McLaren was sixth-fastest.
A very close qualifying session for the pro GT4 drivers saw Mike Simpson grab pole for race two with a 1:42.591 in the #111 Century Motorsport G55 (below), just 0.07 seconds ahead of Ciaran Haggerty in the #100 McLaren and 0.4 seconds ahead of Dave Pittard in the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta (the only GT4 Ginetta in the field not yet upgraded to 2017 spec).
Martin Plowman recorded a strong fourth place on the grid for the Ultratek Nissan’s first race meeting, while Scott Malvern made it four marques in the top five by putting the Team Parker Porsche Cayman fifth. Joe Osborne was sixth in the Tolman McLaren to complete the third row of the grid.
With no track action on Easter Sunday, the British GT meeting resumes with a 10-minute warm-up session at 9:30am on Easter Monday morning, before both one-hour races take place later in the day.