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Brands Hatch: Sunday Warm-Up & Paddock Notes

Barwell Lamborghini fastest in early session

Warm-up took place at 10am after a well attended pit lane walk in glorious sunshine, with temperatures already over 20 degrees. The #56 McLaren was back on track after its engine change, so the only absentee today is the #26 Ultimate Speed Aston Martin, too badly damaged after a big crash for Matt Manderson during practice.

In GT3, given that the session was only 10 minutes long, the Am drivers had most of the session, but at the end Phil Keen jumped in the #33 Lamborghini to post a 1:25.923. It was an uneventful session, with Thiim posting the second-quickest time of 1:26.807 in the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin, then Haigh in the #75 Optimum Aston Martin and the two Team Parker Bentleys in the order #7, #1.

In GT4, McLaren, Aston Martin and BMW were the cars lapping in the 1:35s, but Canning showed that, just as in qualifying, the Mercedes-AMG is the car you want to post a single hot lap around Brands Hatch, with a 1:34.151 then a 1:33.882 to close out the session fastest in GT4. Both Academy Motorsport Aston Martins improved into the 1:34s to be second and third in the session (in the order #61, #62) ahead of the #43 Century BMW, #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren and #88 Team Hard Ginetta.

Callum MacLeod ready for battle

“The car is fine [after yesterday’s beaching in the gravel during qualifying]. I just needed to find another six tenths to move up in qualifying, so I was pushing, but it wasn’t there. I was still third-quickest in the session but that doesn’t mean anything, because on aggregate we’re sixth. We’ve made some more changes though to get closer, probably not close enough but nobody has run a perfect race yet so in two hours we should be okay. The GT4 cars will be a problem, because they’ll really hold us up, but we’ll just have to be patient with them.”

TF Sport, all to do

TF Sport team principal Tom Ferrier was understandably downcast speaking after qualifying yesterday. “Well, it couldn’t have gone much worse could it!” he said. “The good thing is that both cars are fine, Mark just got [the #11 Aston Martin] stuck and then we have no idea why the wheel came off for Marco [Sorensen]. We have reviewed the video of the wheel nut going on and it all seemed perfectly normal, so until we get the wheel back we won’t know. We managed to get him back out, but losing the wheel had taken the ABS sensor out so he had no ABS and wasn’t pushing, we just wanted him to complete his minimum three laps, but both our cars are at the back. I’m not so concerned about it because it’s a two-hour race and there aren’t that many cars [in the GT3 class] this weekend.”

Catching up with Tom again today, his update on the wheel loss was: “It looks like a wheel weight was knocked off as the wheel went on the car and it got stuck between the wheel and the hub. So the wheel nut went on properly as far as it could go, but the wheel weight stopped it going on properly.”

Barwell, #33 nicely poised

Barwell Motorsport team principal Mark Lemmer wouldn’t be drawn on Championship issues just yet, but #33’s Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw currently head the standings by 14 points from Optimum Motorsport’s (pole-sitting) Flick Haigh and Jonny Adam and could win the title today if other events (quite a few other events in reality) go in their favour. “We won’t do anything different, it’s just another race weekend and we’ll be looking for the best result we can get, but the car is good and I think we should be fine.”

Jon Minshaw was looking forward to “having some fun and it’s nice to be up in the top three again, because we haven’t been there the last few rounds. The car is good and we made some more changes that we’re both happy with in warm-up, me and Phil both did a quick lap each. The traffic will be the key thing, because if the GT3 leader comes up to one, first they have to have seen you and second they have to want to let you get past. You just won’t get past unless they let you and you could lose a two-second lead immediately, but it’s going to be the same for all of us.”

Jack Mitchell, cautiously optimistic

Century Motorsport’s Jack Mitchell, with one eye at least on the championship, or at least maintaining his lead for the next round, was looking a lot more comfortable this morning than he was after yesterday’s first practice session: “I think we’re looking good for the race. I wasn’t happy after FP1 to be honest, the base set-up was just the other end of what we needed. Between sessions we made the right changes and the car was completely different. We have the 20-second additional pitstop penalty for the race, so we’re looking for a podium really, but I would be really happy with that”

Tolman’s leaders have a plan

In the #4 McLaren, Charlie Fagg “will be starting and if we can hang on to the BMWs then we’ll be set. I need to make a really good start and I’ll be looking to jump the #61 Aston straight away, then hopefully we can beat the Mitchell BMW so we can be in the championship hunt. The BMW is certainly working well but I’m confident that we’ll have really good old-tyre pace”

Team-mate Michael O’Brien was conscious that “we have a 15-second pitstop penalty [compared to Jack Mitchell’s 20] but the main aim is to get some points back and make sure we’re in the mix coming to the last round at Donington.”

Academy have other plans…

Tom Wood, whose #61 Academy Aston Martin is the one that Fagg will be looking to “jump” off the start, might not be making it quite so easy as Fagg would hope. “We had good pace in practice, I wasn’t worrying about the other cars on new tyres because we were just focusing on race pace and I think we have it. I knew we’d be quick in qualifying on new tyres because the car was set up really well. I went for a lap but I got held up by a Mercedes on the last corner and without that I think I could have got pole, but P3 is still good and I’m confident for the race because of the pace we have. We’ve already shown all year that our race pace is better than our one-lap pace and Brands really suits the Aston with its balance through the fast and flowing corners, and we’re fast down the straights, too.”