Top 3 start in GT3, top 4 for GT4
Macmillan Racing’s assault on the 2017 British GT Championship got off to a flying start at Oulton Park in Cheshire, on Saturday, with strong qualifying performances from both crews.
Jack Mitchell set the pace on his debut in the GT3 class, with the team’s new Aston Martin Vantage V12 GT3, finally claiming third spot on the grid for Race 1, while Will Phillips placed the Vantage V8 GT4 in a strong fourth position for the season-opener.
“To be honest, I’m disappointed not to be on pole,” said Jack, “as we were quickest right up until the red flag that interrupted the session. Going in, we knew we had a brake issue, which was costing us time in the corners but, overall, I’m happy with my first qualifying run in the car. The two guys ahead of me already have a full season’s experience in their cars, so we can be very happy with our position. Now we just have to stay out of trouble and look at a strong finish in the race.”
“We made a big change to the car before qualifying, which really helped us find the grip.” said Will. “Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a clear run in traffic on the first two laps, which is the peak time for grip on the new tyres but on lap 5, I saw a chance and strung a good lap together. I’m happy to be starting in 4th, it gives us a great chance and I’m really looking forward to having some fun in the race on Monday.”
The second qualifying session for each class was for the second – or ‘Pro’ - driver, as nominated by the organisers, and set the grid for Race 2. In GT3, James Littlejohn posted the 6th-fastest run on his full-time debut in British GT, while rookie Jan Jønck qualified the no. 42 Aston in 8th spot in his first-ever qualifying session in a GT car.
“For my first proper qualifying run, I’m pretty happy,” reckoned James. “Because of our Silver driver status, the car is pretty heavy, compared to our rivals and we hadn’t done much running in the UK until this weekend, so I’m pleased with where we ended up. There’s more to come from the car, when we’ve addressed our braking issue and there’s more to come from me, too.”
“My lap in qualifying was the fastest we’ve gone all weekend,” smiled Jan, “and the quickest of any GT4 Aston, so I’m pretty satisfied. To be a couple of tenths shy of the top 3, in my first qualifying session in a GT car was really good, especially here. Oulton Park is a difficult track to overtake on but I think we have good race pace, so I’m cautiously optimistic that we can challenge for podium finishes.”
Racing is on Bank Holiday Monday, so the drivers will spend their Sunday at Silverstone, watching the opening race of the FIA World Endurance Championship – the Silverstone 6 Hours - from the Aston Martin Racing garage.
“AMR graciously extended us the invitation to join them for the WEC race,” said Team Principal David Macmillan, “Which gives the boys a great opportunity to see how GT racing happens at the very top level.
“It’s a money-can’t-buy opportunity to learn from the very best and I know all our drivers are really looking forward to the day. After all, that’s where they aspire to end up – as do we! We have to thank David Richards and John Gaw at AMR for this chance to embed ourselves in the team – we’ll be cheering the Astons all the way.
“Monday will mark the next step on our ladder. Last season we took our first steps in GT4, now we’ve added GT3 and I can’t wait to see how the team fares. We tested strongly, we’ve got excellent drivers and a really strong engineering base and - although our cars are running with more weight because of the driving line-ups – we feel we’re going to be season-long contenders. I’m absolutely delighted.”
Both races will be shown live on Frontrunner TV, on Monday April 17th.
Race one starts at 11.10, while the second encounter of the weekend kicks off at 3.15pm.
COPYRIGHT MACMILLAN RACING 2017