Barwell Motorsport claimed the top spot on the grid ahead of the 4th round of the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at Donington Park. The combined efforts of Shaun Balfe, who topped his session, and Sandy Mitchell who came second in Pro qualifying served to secure the top spot by 0.399 seconds.
In GT4 the battle was hard fought with DTO Motorsport eventually prevailing. The #36 McLaren Artura GT4 claimed the top spot by 0.001 seconds. Josh Rowledge topped his session while Aston Millar completed the job in the second part of GT4 qualifying.
The pair were aided by a disqualified time from Raceway Motorsport’s Stuart Middleton which would have changed the outcome.
GT3 Qualifying – Raffaele Take Records, Balfe and Mitchell Take Pole
The battle for the pole at Donington Park was always going to be a record-breaker. The series is celebrating its largest grid of factory drivers this year and the circuit was resurfaced during the off-season. Throw in the exceptional weather for this bank holiday weekend of motorsport and the track was going to be fast.
What people didn’t expect is for the qualifying lap record to fall in Q1. But fall it did.
Shaun Balfe had the wheel of the eventual pole-sitter for the opening qualifying session and a determined battle between him and the #4 Mercedes, #1 Mercedes and #13 McLaren looked set to thrill. An exceptional lap from Andrew Howard’s Beechdean AMR Aston Martin bought a fifth car into the mix with a minute to spare in the session.
So it was the last chance saloon, a type of qualifying that Shaun Balfe excels at, and the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO II set its fastest lap as it took the chequered flag. The time, a 1:24.880, was 0.580 seconds faster than Marcus Clutton’s GT3 qualifying lap record set in 2022.
GT3 Pro qualifying could only be more thrilling and from the off there was action to talk about. Action like Euan Hankey coming across traffic in the final sector and losing his best shot at the top. The #13 machine eventually set a 1:23.997, over a second inside the 2022 qualifying record, but placed 7th in the session.
Combining the times only brings the McLaren 720S GT3 EVO one additional step closer to the front.
Marcus Clutton in the Enduro Motorsport McLaren was the first to set a truly fast lap, blasting his previous lap record by over 7 tenths. Marvin Kirchhoefer was next to top the times, then Sandy Mitchell, then Ross Gunn in the Beechdean AMR Vantage.
Next to come to the top of the Q2 times was Dan Harper, a 1:24.266, which again, reset the qualifying lap record. Sandy Mitchell on a better lap came next, slashing into the 1:23s with a 23.875. Combining the times put the #78 on the pole by 0.354 seconds.
Soon after Jonny Adam put in his best to take second place on the grid.
With a minute to spare in the session, Sandy Mitchell again improved, bringing the record down to 23.738. Then the chequered flag was shown and Euan Hankey set his 23.997 to take sixth place, demoting Barwell Motorsport’s Silver-Am car to seventh but the head of the Silver class.
Finally, Raffaele Marciello set his fastest time of the session, 1:23.689 which will stand, probably for a year at least, as the circuit qualifying lap record for GT3 cars. It wasn’t good enough for Pole, but it is definitely good enough for the history books.
You can find full details of the qualifying results in the Official Classifications section of the Donington Park microsite.
DTO Motorsport Triumph in GT4 Qualifying
First qualifying for the GT4 cars was a close run thing. The top eight cars in the times were covered by less than a second at the end with DTO Motorsport at the top of the pile thanks to Josh Rowledge.
The McLaren Artura GT4 had a particularly strong qualifying session but in the Am session, it was a more evenly spread thing. 4 of the five Arturas made the top ten with two of the four Ginettas and one each of the Aston Martin, Ford, BMW and Porsche.
Raceway Motorsport was the second-placed car thanks to Freddie Tomlinson. It’s a good reward for a morning spent chasing an ABS issue in the #56 Ginetta G56 GT4 but the joy wouldn’t last into the second session. Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren came next thanks to Jack Brown with Toro Verde GT’s #80 in fourth.
The Toro Verde machine lost a lap due to track limits; the Raceway #56 lost two.
R Racing, Academy Motorsport’s #62, RACE LAB’s #29 and the Paddock Motorsport machines all came next. The best of the BMWs was the #14 Harriot’s Chariot with Team Parker Racing rounding out the top ten.
In Pro qualifying the story was different. The lowest placed McLaren Artura was in 7th place, a fact which carries over to the combined times. Optimum topped the session, Enduro came next, and Raceway injected a Ginetta into the McLaren McLove-In with Lewis Plato squeezing a BMW in behind.
Next was DTO Motorsport, McLaren. Then RACE LAB. McLaren. Then Paddock Motorsport. McLaren. Then we had run out of McLarens and other cars could play.
Again, you can find the full classifications on the Donington Park microsite but the top ten look like this:
Artura – worst-placed McLaren
The race starts tomorrow at 13:00 and you can watch free and uninterrupted on YouTube. The feed is embedded into the Donington Park microsite.