Double pole positions for Aston Martin runners at British GT finale from Donington

Saturday, October 21, 2023


The British GT Championship near annual #DoningtonDecider continues to live up to its expected level of excitement after Mother Nature threw a curved ball to the thirty-four listed runners with wet and damp becoming the main question for the teams to answer.

Having raced recent rounds both at home and abroad, establishing and maintaining tyre temperature had never really an issue since pre-season and the earlier rounds until Storm Babet had its say over much of the UK.

Despite data gained from this weeks earlier test at Donington Park, todays start to the more formally timed sessions saw a wet to damp to drying track conditions for the combined GT3 and GT4 crews with the #97 Beechdean AMR Vantage GT3 of Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn leading the way at the top of the timing screen.

That was a similar vein back within the GT4 class as the #27 R-Racing AMR Vantage GT4 of Josh Miller and Seb Hopkins became the third fastest crew in class, making their many recent laps of testing around the Donington circuit pay dividends. The guesting #31 MKH Racing AMR Vantage Gt4 of Ron Johnson and Tom Ingram didn’t have that knowledge base as this week was their first experience of the car/crew/circuit together.

Free Practice 2 went no different at the top as the #97 continued to dominate (thanks to no championship pressures on their shoulders this weekend) although both the #27 and #31 cars did drop with lap times being deleted for track limits.

Then Qualifying became the next focus of attention as the amateurs within the GT3 class were first out on was then a damp to drying track. Going out on slicks, coming in to change those slicks because of vibration saw Howard enter pit lane for a third time, this time for wets with just over three minutes of his session remaining. Eventually getting just one hot lap with those wet tyres thanks to a session ending hit into the pit all for a McLaren, that was still enough for Howard to claim provisional top slot with the GT3 Qualifying being placed under investigation by Race Control.

Next out were the Pro drivers with Gunn selecting slicks aboard the #97 car ass the sun made another one of its periodic passes above. Holding the aggregated best time for the opening half of the session, the #1 Mercedes AMG crew snatched that lead with just over three minutes remaining. With just twenty-nine seconds remaining, Gunn recovers that three tenths deficit to reclaim P1 with another lap still available to him to eventually see out the session fifth quickest but fastest overall in GT3 for a Pole Position start tomorrow afternoon.

Next out were the GT4’s with Miller and Johnson doing the business first time round (the #23 do run this season within the silver class so both Miller and Hopkins are of the same grade). First out and eager to get on with things saw Miller finish fastest by the slenderest of margins, just 0.03 of as second in front of the #36 Championship contending McLaren. Johnson would return to the Championship with a bump after a spin in both Free Practice and Qualifying saw him post the slowest time.

Like Miller, Hopkins was first out and keen to get on with things to see his final qualifying of his second season of British GT underway although his haste would again come at a cost as the #23 then started losing lap times for track limits.

Despite finishing nineth in his session, his lap time was still good enough to keep the #23 at the head of the class whilst the #31 MKH Aston Martin of Tom Ingram would finish second overall in session, albeit still at the foot of the table.

Morning warm up tomorrow morning before the start of the season finale starting at 13:00hrs local. No championship pressures this weekend like we say whilst others obviously do within both GT3 and GT4 classes. It will be exciting!!

Photo credits – J Ebrey / D Gibson
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