Euan Hankey and Lucky Khera have claimed the top spot in free practice 2 ahead of the 2-hour Donington Park endurance race for the British GT Championship. Hankey struck hard between two red flags which stopped the action, but crucially not the clock, in the hour-long final practice before competitive action begins this afternoon.
In GT4 it was also a McLaren which ended the session on top. Not only was it also a McLaren, but it was also the RACE LAB team with Tom Wrigley’s best proving too tough a nut to crack for the GT4 rivals.
FP2 Starts Slower Than Morning Practice
The first fifteen minutes of the second free practice session saw an initial shot to the front. The Century BMW pro set an initial time, immediately improving to a 1:24.604 which held the honours all the way through the opening quarter of the session.
Behind him lined up the #77 Enduro Motorsport McLaren of Marcus Clutton, which was soon handed over to Tillbrook to carry out the bulk of the hour’s work. Mark Radcliffe took third place in the Optimum Motorsport GT3 machine, with Jules Gounon’s opening gambit placing fourth for 2 Seas Motorsport.
Rounding out the top five was the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In the GT4 class, the honours went almost straight away to the #23 R Racing Aston Martin Vantage of Seb Hopkins. A slightly later improvement cemented his hold on the top spot, by 0.253 seconds from the #7 Paddock Motorsport McLaren of Tom Rawlings and Kavi Jundu.
Third in class went to the #36 DTO Motorsport McLaren of Aston Millar and Josh Rowledge. The duo were featured at the front of the field in FP1 and continues their impressive run in contention for a good weekend. The #14 BMW of Johnston and Salkeld held fourth and the #62 Academy Ford Mustang rounded out the top three.
Red Flag Stops Play at Halfway
Almost as soon as the first fifteen minutes were over Euan Hankey, aboard the RACE LAB McLaren 720S GT3 EVO he shares with Lucky Khera, wound up the spring and launched his car into a fast one. It’s a lap time that stood the entire 15-minute segment thanks partially to the red flag that stopped play at 34:32 left on the clock.
The red flag was caused by an off for Morgan Tillbrook who had the wheel of the #77 Enduro Motorsport GT3 entry. The car slid sideways through the gravel at Old Hairpin before colliding with the barriers.
It seems the car wasn’t significantly damaged in the incident, Tillbrook was pulled clear of the gravel and free to drive himself back to the pits within 7 minutes of the flag being flown. The circuit furniture needed more attention and the red flag continued on for 14 minutes and 41 seconds.
The stoppage also put paid to a series of improvements by Raffaele Marciello’s #15 RAM Racing run Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO. His first attempt put the car straight into fourth place, his second promoted the car to second place and just 0.091 seconds off the top spot. The flag came out denying us a Lello show, sector 1 on the next lap was faster than the #15 had gone all session.
Darren Leung sat in third place thanks to Dan Harper’s early times for Century with the stricken Morgan Tillbrook holding fourth thanks to his pro, Marcus Clutton. Fifth was held by Mark Radcliffe for Optimum.
There was more change in GT4 where Aston Millar still held the top spot but by a reduced margin. New second-place sitter Darren Burke in the #17 Enduro Motorsport set his fastest lap while Raffaele Marciello was impressing at the front. The McLaren was just 0.107 seconds off the top spot.
Chris Salkeld and Michael Johnston entered the pit lane for the red flag stoppage from third on the timesheets with Aston Millar’s DTO machine in fourth and Tom Rawlings in fifth.
Teams Face 20-Minute Rush to End of Practice
When the green flag was flown again the teams faced a rush to complete their programmes. A quarter of the session had been lost to the stoppage.
First to rise to note was the #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR of Ross Gunn which went to fourth on the first attempt. A lap later the Aston factory driver had improved, putting in a 1:24.388 which would stand as the fastest time for much of the remaining 15 minutes.
Marvin Kirchhoefer was also getting up to speed, sixth place for the #88 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 EVO was his first effort which could possibly have been improved upon on his second attempt. Traffic in the final sector prompted the McLaren factory driver to back out of it.
He would later improve to fifth place, then fourth before Euan Hankey let rip a fast one with just over three minutes of the session remaining. The #13 car put in a 1:24.365, while Jules Gounon put in a time 0.494 seconds slower to secure sixth place in the final session standings.
An off for the #56 Raceway Motorsport Ginetta G56 GT4 of Stuart Middleton at Old Hairpin would stop anyone else from improving.
While GT3 were duking it out for the bragging rights at the top of the table a less public but equally hard-fought war was being waged in GT4. Freddie Tomlinson was the first to strike, going fastest in the #56 which ended the session second and ended the session early.
Almost immediately the #29 RACE LAB McLaren at the hands of Tom Wrigley responded and put in a 1:32.714. It was 0.272 seconds faster than the Ginetta and stood as the fastest time until the end of the session.
Josh Miller and Seb Hopkins picked up the third place as a result of their early pace with Burke’s Enduro McLaren in fourth and the Millar/Rowledge McLaren rounding out the session in fifth.