The opening practice session of the penultimate round of the 2023 Intelligent Money British GT Championship season has been completed with the #97 Aston Martin V8 Vantage AMR GT3 topping the time sheets. AMR factory Pro Ross Gunn set the time in car he shares with Beechdean owner Andrew Howard claiming a 1:25.158.

That’s less than seventh 10ths short of the exisiting lap record.

In GT4 the top time was taken by Carl Cavers in the BMW M4 GT4 he shares with Lewis Plato. Both the drivers were on the pace but Cavers got in their early and once the #22 got to the top, inside the first 15 minutes of the session, no one could better his pace.

There was only one stoppage to the session which came about ten minutes in. The red flag flew due to an off for Kavi Jundu in the Paddock Motorsport McLaren Artura GT4 at Hawthorns.

GT3 – Ross Gunn on top After FP1

A free practice session which started slowly saw the Beechdean AMR machine rise to the top of the pile at the 3/4 mark. The first two thirds of the session were very much a case of the GT3 teams running to a programme and not pushing.

First to gain advantage was Callum MacLeod in the Greystone GT run Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO, lost out to Jules Gounon when the defending champion car joined the fray. Jonny Adam also took a shot at the top but couldn’t better the D2 Privat machine and slotted into second.

Callum MacLeod held out ahead of the Silver-Am entered Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVOII of Will Tregurtha and Mark Sansom. Raffaele Marciello tried to join the battle but managed only 4th in the RAM Racing machine.

After 39 minutes Ross Gunn hooked up his first quick lap aboard the Aston, three minutes later Sandy Mitchell countered but it was all over by 46 minutes.

Come the end of the session Andrew Howard was shown as on the top with Ian Loggie 0.203 seconds behind in the 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3. Shaun Balfe was third in the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini ahead of championship leaders James Cottingham and Jonny Adam in 4th place.

Rob Bell’s Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 EVO took fifth in both the GT3 overall and the GT3 Pro/Am class ahead of Will Tregurtha whose initial attempt at overall glory still served to claim the top spot in GT3 Silver/Am.

Carl Cavers claimed the top spot in GT4 in Free Practice 1
The BMW M4 GT4 of Carl Cavers and Lewis Plato at Brands Hatch. Credit:

GT4 – Cavers Sets the Standard

In GT4 the game was up by the 15 minute mark as Carl Cavers struck early and struck hard. A 1:32.586 would stand for 45 minutes on the top of the GT4 time sheets. Remarkably, the GT4 Pro/Am machine would not only spend 45 minutes in command but also managed to keep five GT4 Silver Cup runners between the BMW M4 GT4 and their nearest rival.

The nearest rival in question was the #12 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Ed McDermott in 7th place in GT4 but second in Pro/Am.

Heading GT4 Silver Cup was DTO Motorsport and the Josh Rowledge/Aston Millar, 0.016 seconds off the BMW and 0.13 seconds clear of the Will Moore driven Ford Mustang GT3 who took third overall and second in Silver. Erik Evans in the team mate car #61 came next.

Seb Hopkins got the R Racing Aston Martin into contention later on ahead of the Dan Vaughan driven Team Parker Racing McLaren Artura GT4.

Kavi Jundu was the only driver who left the pits not to record a lap time after he had an off on his outlap. The Paddock Motorsport crew had been working on the car before the session and checking on settings and neither the team nor the driver checked the ABS was set correctly.

When Jundu went to brake for Hawthorns the vehicle locked up and he went off towards the barrier. He couldn’t stop the car from getting beached in the gravel but he did manage to keep it out the barrier.

Nicholas Smith

Nick Smith is a time served motorsport journalist and photographer specialising in the British GT Championship. The originator of the idea behind the British GT Fans Show, which became the British Sportscar Podcast, Nick works as the shows resident expert. Away from the track Nick earns his way as a driving instructor and instructor trainer.

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