Keen and Minshaw keep hopes alive
Title contenders Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen gave themselves the best possible chance of overturning their 27.5-point championship deficit by claiming a commanding pole position for Sunday’s race. Both drivers set the fastest times in their respective Am and Pro sessions on a damp but drying track that played perfectly to theirs and the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini.
Minshaw initially set the tone by lapping 1.222s quicker than Graham Davidson, whose late effort elevated the Jetstream Aston Martin to second ahead of Barwell’s other Huracan driven by Sam De Haan.
Optimum’s championship leader Flick Haigh and Beechdean AMR’s Andrew Howard also made the most of the improving conditions to jump up to fourth and fifth, respectively, ahead of another title protagonist, TF Sport’s Mark Farmer, and GT3 debutant Graham Johnson in the Balfe Motorsport McLaren. Derek Johnston rounded out the top-eight in his final British GT outing before retirement.
Yelmer Buurman was out of the traps quickest of all en route to consecutive fastest laps, the latter of which helped the ERC Sport Mercedes-AMG he shares with Lee Mowle move from tenth to seventh in the final reckoning. However, the Dutchman’s bubble was soon burst by Barwell’s Jonny Cocker and Keen who were the only drivers able to lap in the mid-to-low 1:39s bracket. Indeed, Keen’s fastest time of the session – 1:39.292s – helped the #33 crew extend their overall pole margin to 1.609s.
Cocker’s time, which was just over a tenth slower, saw Barwell lock-out the front row ahead of Maxime Martin and his Jetstream co-driver Davidson, while AMR’s factory trio of Jonny Adam, Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen posted times within 0.062s of each other to claim fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively.
Beechdean AMR slipped to eighth in the final reckoning, one place ahead of Team Parker Racing’s leading Bentley driven by Ian Loggie and Callaum Macleod, and JMH Auto’s GTC-spec Ferrari which revelled in the tricky conditions. Indeed, Marcus Clutton’s personal best was just 2.8s slower than Keen’s.