A thrilling 30-minute qualifying session took place ahead of the final race of the 2013 Avon Tyres British GT Championship at Donington Park, and it was Joe Osborne in the 888Optimum BMW Z4 GT3 that he shares with Lee Mowle that took pole position by almost half a second. The GT4 class pole was a hard fought affair and it was newcomers Twisted Team Parker Racing that went quickest, and Team Horse Power Racing took the GTC class pole.
Osborne, who was quickest in free practice two earlier in the day too, left it until the final five minutes of the half hour session to post his fastest time, a stunning 1:28.299 lap that was over a second under the GT3 lap record for the 2.498 mile GP circuit.
Reigning teams champion Trackspeed trio of Porsches littered the top ten, the first being the #32 car with Richard Westbrook posting a 1:28.739 in the car he shares with Gregor Fisken. Westbrook left it late to go on track and produced two laps within a couple of hundredths of a second of each other, the first put the Porsche ace third, the next lap though ensured a front row start and in doing so relegated Championship contenders Oliver Bryant and Marco Attard in the Ecurie Ecosse BMW to third. Despite starting from the second row, the Ecurie Ecosse pair are happy with their performance as they managed to out qualify their fellow GT3 Championship contenders.
Frustrated by their qualifying performance where the likeable pairing of Rob Barff and Gary Eastwood. The FF Corse drivers were unlucky to not finish higher after two fast laps had to be aborted due to heavy traffic on the GP circuit. Despite this, Barff produced a 1:28.862 and closed out the fourth row despite the advances of Porsche factory driver, Nick Tandy.
Championship contender Tandy was just 0.082s off a second row start; instead team-mate David Ashburn will start the two-hour race of the season from the third row, with fellow title challenger and current championship leader, Andrew Howard alongside him.
The Beechdean-AMR team owner and racer, Howard and his team-mate Jonny Adam were eighteen-thousandths off the Porsche, but have the comfort of being the quickest of four Aston Martin V12 Vantages on the grid this weekend. Howard can also scoop the inaugural Blancpain Gentleman Drivers Trophy too, the prestigious award for the best 'Gentleman' racer in British GT.
Row four of the grid sees Audi square up against Porsche, the United Autosports R8 LMS ultra of Matt Bell and Mark Patterson having the edge over Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen in the #33 Trackspeed Porsche who will line up eighth.
Capping a largely positive day for Ferrari teams were John Dhillon and Aaron Scott in the AF Corse 458 Italia GT3. Scott was in fine form once more and his lap of 1:29.103 elevated the #13 Ferrari firmly into the top ten, the pair eventually finished ninth, just ahead of the Team LNT Ginetta G55 of Rob Smith and Mike Simpson, themselves enjoying a more competitive Saturday at the Leicestershire circuit.
Despite a clash with the Mtech Ginetta of Luke Hines and Derek Johnston early in the session, Jacques Duyver and Charlie Hollings finished eleventh on their British GT GT3 debut. Behind them was the second 888Optimum BMW of title contenders Dan Brown and Steve Tandy in twelfth, which faired better than rivals for the 2013 Championship Ahmad Al Harthy and Michael Caine in the Oman Air Motorbase Porsche. The duo had a tricky day contending with traffic and suffered with the weight penalty for their Gold/Silver partnership.
Similar to the two practice sessions earlier in the day, qualifying was broken up by a red flag. This time it was Piers Johnson in the #78 Barwell Motorsport BMW who brought a stop to proceedings. Johnson got wide on the exit of Goddards and the Z4 snapped across the track hitting the concrete pit entrance wall, blocking the pit entrance and ending the session for her and team-mate Ron Johnson. The pair will start from row fourteen tomorrow if their Barwell team can fix the damaged BMW.
Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick made a positive start to their British GT campaign together and gave new team Twisted Team Parker a maiden GT4 pole position. Ellis posted a 1:37.103, some 0.870s quicker than fellow Ginetta G50 runners Ryan Ratcliffe and Rick Parfitt Jnr in the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta.
Fellow title contender Declan Jones stopped on track at the end of qualifying with an engine issue in his Century Motorsport Ginetta G50 at Schwantz Curve, having qualified fourth in class.
Another new entrant, Silverstone Auctions-AMR had a strong showing in third place. Richie Stanaway and Harry Whale were under a second off of 2006 British GT Champion Ellis' time, on their joint debut in British GT with the Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Alex Osborne and James May were fifth in class with the re-repaired APO Sport Ginetta G50, with just 0.001s splitting them and the Complete Racing-AMR pair of Steve Chaplin and Tom Wilson in the second Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
The final GT4 title contenders Matt Smith and Dan Eagling qualified seventh in class, giving both drivers a lot of work to do in the final race of the season tomorrow.
Track action begins tomorrow at 10:05 with a ten-minute warm-up and then the two-hour 'Donington Decider' race begins at 13:05 with LIVE TV coverage on Motors TV starting shortly before.