Phil Keen in the championship-leading #33 Demon Tweeks Lamborghini set the pace under blazing sunshine in the first free practice session for British GT at Snetterton, lapping in 1:49.072 to go just over sixth-tenths faster than his next-closest challenger, Callum Macleod in the #7 Team Parker Racing Bentley.
Completing the top three was Sam Tordoff in the other Barwell-run Lamborghini that he shares with Liam Griffin. There was a brief red-flag stoppage in FP1 to allow for the recovery of the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin when Mark Farmer had an off at Riches.
A torrential downpour hit the track between FP1 and FP2, and although the sun was back out in time for the start of the second session, a damp track meant FP1 pace wasn’t feasible initially and indeed many competitors opted to keep their powder dry for some time after an exploratory lap or two.
The heat soon dried the tarmac out, however, and before long a dry line had appeared and quicker times were possible. Keen would eclipse his own best from the morning session by the time the flag dropped, going round in 1:48.737. Next quickest in FP2 was Matt Griffin in the Spirit Of Race Ferrari, clocking a 1:49.894, ahead of Jon Barnes in the #11 TF Aston in third.
The AmD Tuning Mercedes crew of Ryan Ratcliffe and Lee Mowle suffered a frustrating session due to mapping and gearbox sensor issues that meant they almost no running at all in FP2.
Topping GT4 in the early session were Rockingham race winners Stuart Middleton and Will Tregurtha in the HHC Ginetta, while in FP2 it was the turn of another Ginetta crew, Lanan Racing’s Alex Reed and David Pittard.
Elsewhere, Jake Giddings is making a British GT return this weekend alongside Michael Caine in the #36 Autoaid/RCIB Insurance Ginetta, in place of Caine’s regular co-driver Mike Newbould. The 22-year-old won the GT4 title in a Beechdean Aston Martin back in 2014, before spending two season in the JWB car paired with Kieran Griffin.
The GT3 field is minus two cars compared to Rockingham following the withdrawal of the two Century Motorsport Ginettas, which saw Nathan Freke and Charlie Robertson pair with young Americans Harry Gottsacker and Parker Chase.
Ginetta commercial director Nick Portlock said: “Ginetta is currently looking to place Harry and Parker elsewhere within our portfolio in order to deliver on their career goals. For the time being, they will no longer be competing in the British GT Championship whilst we find something which is aligned with the combined vision of all parties.”
Century team boss Freke is racing this weekend, however, taking the GT4 seat alongside Anna Walewska due to Ginetta again having VdeV commitments, this time at Paul Ricard.