Photo: British GT Championship.
Shaun Balfe and Rob Bell, teammates in the #22 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3, took pole position for Round Eight of the 2019 British GT Championship, the duo setting an aggregate time of 2:50.543 round the Brands Hatch GP circuit.
Joining Balfe and Bell on the front row of the grid for Sunday August 4’s two-hour race will be the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin V8 Vantage driven by Ollie Wilkinson and Bradley Ellis whose aggregate lap time was .133 seconds behind the #22 car.
Completing the overall top three was the #69 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan driven by Sam De Haan and Jonny Cocker.
Class pole in the GT4 category went to the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 driven by Dean Macdonald and Callum Pointon who set an aggregate 3:04.357, .086 seconds quicker than the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin driven by Ash Hand and Tom Canning.
The GT3 Am session got underway with some ominous black clouds hanging over the circuit but no rain forecast. Sam De Haan in the #69 Lamborghini set the early pace with a 1:25.929 on his second lap but was quickly overtaken by Shaun Balfe and Ryan Ratcliffe, the Team Parker Racing driver lapping in 1:25.597 in the Bentley Continental GT3.
Adam Balon in the #72 Lamborghini seemed to be lacking front-running pace and , after three laps, had set a 1:27.304 and was eleventh quickest of the 14 cars on the circuit.
However it was Ollie Wilkinson who went quickest, lapping in 1:25.533 in the final seconds of the 15-minute session, just .048 seconds quicker than Angus Fender in the #9 Century Motorsport BMW.
As the GT3 Pro session got underway there was a two-second spread across the class grid. Rob Bell immediately put in a 1:24.983 in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 to the #22 car on provisional pole with an aggregate time of 2:50.543, .133 seconds ahead of the #96 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin, now driven by Bradley Ellis.
With less than three minutes remaining, Jonny Adam brought the #47 TF Sport Aston Martin into the garage, having lapped in 1:24.617 to take a provisional fourth place on the grid.
Many of the grid decided to pit ahead of the chequered flag, leaving Bell sitting in pole position. However an announcement that the #96 car was under investigation meant that, potentially, the front row of the grid had not been decided.
Completing the provisional top three was the #69 Lamborghini in which Jonny Cocker had put in a 1:24.706.
The GT4 sessions got underway with Alex Toth-Jones in the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage AMR G4 putting in a 1:32.781 to go to the top of the class time sheets.
However as the session approached the final three minutes, it was the #57 HHC Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 that sat on provisional pole, Callum Pointon having put in a 1:32.621 on his fourth and final lap, .067 seconds quicker than the Spa-winning #97 TF Sport Aston Martin in which Ash Hand had lapped in 1:32.688. The sister #95 Aston Martin was third quickest having set a 1:32.746 in the hands of Josh Price.
As the GT4 Pro session got underway Dean Macdonald set the pace with an aggregate 3:04.357 in the #57 McLaren to take provisional pole but Tom Canning in the #97 Aston Martin was only .086 seconds behind with an aggregate 3:04.443.
The quickest of the Pro-Am entries was the #11 Beechdean AMR Aston Martin with Martin Plowman lapping in 1:31.773 to set an aggregate 3:04.987.
With less than two minutes remaining, Dean Macdonald brought the pole-sitting #57 car in to the pits, confident that the time could not be bettered.
Pointon and Macdonald were delighted with their pole position.
“There no time penalties from Spa so I think we’ve put ourselves in a really good position.” said Dean Macdonald. “Our race pace looks really promising as well so I feel confident (for the race).”
“I never doubted Dean at all,” said Callum Pointon. “Dean proved himself here last year. The car’s there, the team’s there and we proved it by being fastest in both sessions. The other lads didn’t make it easy for us but I think we should be able to pull away from them (in the race.”
Round Eight of the 2019 British GT Championship on the Brands Hatch GP circuit gets underway at 13:00 local time on Sunday August 4.