The first practice session for Round Six of the 2020 Intelligent Money British GT Championship got underway under overcast skies and cooler temperatures than the the UK has enjoyed of late.
The track was dry, however, as the 24-car grid, the highest car-count for the series so far this year, took to the track.
Quickest of the GT3 grid over the 60 minutes was the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 piloted by Patrick Kujala and Sam De Haan, Kujala lapping in 1:27.339 at the halfway point of the session.
Second quickest was the sister #6 Mercedes in which Yelmer Buurman put in a 1:27.510 in the car he shares with Ian Loggie. Loggie and Buurman currently lead the GT3 Pro-Am Drivers standings, 14 points ahead of Adam Balon and Phil Keen.
Third quickest were the overall GT3 drivers standings leaders Rob Collard and Sandy Mitchell, the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 putting in a 1:27.512 in the hands of Mitchell.
As the session got underway, Sam Neary, at the wheel of the #8 Team ABBA Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with his father, set the early pace with a 1:27.943, .074 seconds quicker than Yelmer Buurman in the #6 RAM Racing Mercedes.
Jan Klingelnberg, driving alongside Warren Hughes in the second Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S GT4 Pro/Am entry, was making his first appearance at the Leicestershire circuit and was served with a drive-through penalty.
Drivers championship leader Sandy Mitchell, teammate with Rob Collard in the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 went second quickest, just two-thousandths of a second behind Yelmer Buurman in the #6 Mercedes who had lapped in 1:27.510.
With 20 minutes of the session completed, Michael Igoe handed the #18 WPI Motorsport Lamborghini over to 2019 Blancpain GT Series champion Marco Mapelli, the fourth Lamborghini factory driver to have partnered with the Cheshire-based businessman in the 2020 season. Mapelli was making his first appearance at Donington Park since 2006 when he competed in Formula Ford.
Patrick Kujala in the #69 RAM Racing Mercedes put in the fastest lap of the session with a 1:27.339 at the half-way point before calling back in to the pits to hand over to co-driver Sam De Haan.
The session was red-flagged with 23 minutes remaining, although the clock continued to count down, due to the #10 2 Seas Motorsport McLaren with Jack Mitchell at the wheel coming to a halt at Redgate. The pause was brief and green-flag running resumed after three minutes.
In the GT4 category, the #61 Academy Motorsport Ford Mustang in the hands of Jordan Albert was the quickest car of the session, the 23-year old lapping in 1:35.478 in the car he shares with Matt Cowley.
Second quickest in the category was the #23 Speedworks Motorsport Toyota GR Supra GT4 driven by Sam Smelt and James Kell.
Of the two Pro/Am GT4 entries, both fielded by Balfe Motorsports, it was the #21 McLaren 570S GT4 driven Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey entry that had the advantage with a 1:36.136 as Jan Klingelnberg in the #22 entry got to know the circuit.
The second free practice session gets underway at 12:20 with qualifying scheduled to start at 4.00pm on Saturday September 19.