Motorbase’s Stephen Jelley and Steve Parish took their second pole position together in as manyraces, in a sensational thirty-minute qualifying session at Brands Hatch today that saw the top twelve cars within four tenths of a second of each other. APO Sport’s Alex Osborne and James May took their maiden British GT pole position in the GT4 class on a circuit neither had driven on prior to this morning.
Leicestershire-based Jelley stormed to pole in the dying minutes of qualifying with the #10 Motorbase Porsche 997 GT3 R after overcoming a loss of power steering in his out lap. Jelley remained unchallenged for the final handful of minutes, beating long time front row sitters, Duncan Cameron and Matt Griffin (MTECH Ferrari 458 Italia GT3) and Beechdean’s
Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam in their newly re-built Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Early leaders were Jann Mardenborough and Alex Buncombe in the RJN Nissan GT-R GT3; both drivers got an opportunity to use new Avon tyres and duly delivered, setting a string of times in the 1:26 range. Shortly after RJN had posted their quickest lap, they were overcome by the MTECH Ferrari of Griffin and Cameron; MTECH,bucking the trend of putting the less experienced driver out first, gave Griffin an opportunity to see where the grip lay before handing over to thedependable Cameron.
Behind the MTECH and RJN cars, positions yo-yoed from one lap to the next. Michael Caine in the #11 Motorbase Porsche went second quickest, but would soon find himself on the edge of dropping out of the top ten. Caine and Perfetti improved andfinished fifth overall at the session close with a time of 1:26.233, three tenths of a second off the #10 car on pole.
Following a big crash at Rockingham last time out, all eyes were on Howard and Adam to see if the newly rebuilt Aston could build on its impressive first half of the season here at Brands Hatch; the start of the second part of the 2012 season. Howard completed his laps with gusto and handed over to Adam who duly moved the Vantage up to eighth before improving further with a time of 1:25.931 to goquickest. Unfortunately for the Beechdean duo, Jelley had other ideas and with around five minutes to go on the clock, produced the lap that would eventually clinch pole; Griffin, now on his second stint in the 458 then split the Porsche and Aston with a 1:25.920, relegating the V12 Vantage to the second row.
Trackspeed started quietly at Brands; all three 997 GT3 Rs began the session with the amateur driver at the wheel, all with moderate success. With the minimum laps completed all three cars came in together and exchanged drivers; Tim Harvey in the #33 car leading out Joe Osborne (#32) and series debutant Nicolas Armindo (#31). Despite his lack of knowledge of the GP circuit, it was Armindo who would go quickest and fourth place. Rockingham winner Osborne was ninth and Harvey eleventh.
Earlier in the day, Ferrari had shown more of its pace with Scuderia Vittoria’s Aaron Scott and John Dhillon going quickest in the first free practice session, leading home a Ferrari 1-2-3. The much improved pair continued their good form and finished eighth in qualifying, three tenths off pole, something Scott claims would’ve been different had it not been for drivers not using their mirrors on the far reaches of the GP circuit. Podium finisher’s last time out, Hector Lester and Allan Simonsen, ran as high as second early on in their Rosso Verde 458, eventually finishing seventh.
George Murrells came to Brands Hatch hoping for another leap forward in the development of his Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55. Despite an off in free practice, Murrells collected himself to post a pit wall pleasing time of 1:26.234, giving himself and team-mate Luke Hines a row three start in sixth.
Of similar intensity to the GT3 qualifying was the battle for pole in the GT4 class. APO Sport’s Osborne laid an early marker in his brief stint and it would remain unbeaten some twenty-five minutes later, which allowed team-mate May to increase his understanding of the 2.43 mile Kent circuit.
Carrying the hopes of Lotus Sport UK were Indian driver Sailesh Bolisetti and ex-BTCC racer, Phil Glew. Having topped both free practice sessions, Glew could arguably have been expected to do the same in qualifying, however the Grimsby born drivercouldn’t beat Osborne’s time, and finished second in class some three thousandths of a second behind the Ginetta.
GT4 championship leaders Jody Fannin and Warren Hughes were dogged with technical issues earlier in the day and the pair almost missed qualifying when their Team WFR Ginetta G50 failed to start in the pitlane. With that issue overcome, Hughes pushed hard and got within five tenths of Glew’s time to start third in class, twentieth overall.
Fellow Ginetta G50 runners Dominic Evans and Zoe Wenham qualified fourth, a tenth ahead of Jota Sport’s Mazda MX-5 and almost a second ahead of final GT4 runner, Peter Erceg and Ben De Zille Butler’s Barwell prepared G50.
Stephen Jelley, Motorbase (GT3 pole position):
“We got the car working really well on new tyres, but didn’t practice on new tyres after the puncture Steve got in FP2. So, I went out early and did a lap to judge the grip, Steve did his bit and I got another bite of the cherry. I pitted when the power steering died on the out lap of my second stint, was given the all clear after briefly pitting and thankfully it hadn’t taken anything out of the tyres and I was able to get back on it. It was a good lap given how close the field were, and I’m glad I’m at the right end of the pack.”
Alex Osborne, APO Sport (GT4 pole position):
“It was a good lap considering neither of us had driven around here before today. There was quite a lot of traffic so we didn’t hook up the best lap possible; all in all we’re quite chuffed and looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
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