Photo: BritishGT.com / Jakob Ebrey
In a session that saw many teams waiting for improving track conditions, TF Sport put its cars first and second on the time-sheets in GT3.
Jon Barnes, behind the wheel of the #11 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3, put in a 1:27.928 on his 19th lap of the 2.481 mile (3.992 kms) Donington Park circuit to go quickest in a time that was only .3 seconds behind Jonny Adam’s pole position time of 1.27.602 set in 2016.
Second quickest in the 60-minute session was 2016 GT3 champion Jonny Adam in the #1 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 he shares with Derek Johnston. Adam set a 1:28.359
GT3 championship contenders Barwell Motorsport and Team Parker Racing vied for third and fourth quickest with the #33 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 setting a 1:28.846 in the hands of Jon Minshaw who came out late in the session in the car he shares with Phil keen.
Rick Parfitt was fourth quickest with a 1:29. 266 in the #31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3.
Both Barwell Motorsport and Team Parker Racing have been increasing the psychological pressure on each other by saying that they are relaxed coming into the final round as all the pressure is on opposing team. Parfitt in the #31 Team Parker Racing entry has been quick to point out that the 20-second success penalty incurred by the team will make it virtually impossible to beat the Lamborghini. Barwell Motorsport, however, has been suggesting that the grip and pace of the Bentley Continental GT3 means that, barring something unforeseen (or wet conditions, which are not forecast for the weekend), the championship is out of reach for them.
Post-practice, Rick Parfitt reiterated the challenge that lay ahead for he and Morris.
“To everybody who’s here and watching, I would say ‘Don’t believe anything that Barwell are saying’ because, the fact is, they’ve got a 20-second advantage,” said Parfitt. “We are as chilled as can be because, you know, it’s like saying ‘go off and have a 20-second advantage’. It’s one of things. It’s highly unlikely we can make that up. The fact is, all we can do is go as hard as we can and that’s it. There is no other way.
“The pressure’s absolutely on Jon (Minshaw),” continued the Bentley driver. “We can just tonk around and finish second, third, fourth. They have to win – it’s as simple as that. And so that’s our strategy. We’re going to go as quick as we can. We’re going to take our 20 seconds and we’ll see where it ends up.”
As an amateur driver combing his racing with his day-job of performing with his band, the RPJ Band, the last few days have been demanding.
“I’ve gigged the last two nights and have had less than six hours sleep so I haven’t got the energy to be nervous or anxious. To be honest, the team are so brilliant the car feels absolutely joyous. I’m just enjoying it.”
Quickest of the GT4 field was the #51 Lanan Racing Ginetta G55 GT4 of David Pittard and Alex Reed, with Reed setting a 1:37.323.
In a packed programme at Donington Park, the British GT field goes out for FP2 12:30 with qualifying beginning at 16:25.