After one of the most significant qualifying sessions of the season, all three title contenders in the fastest single marque GT racing championship in the UK will start rounds fourteen and fifteen from the front two rows.
Leading the charge with double pole positions was reigning champion Dan Cammish (Redline Racing). The Brands Hatch Grand Prix lap record holder set a blistering pace which left the remaining contenders trying to eat away at his advantage. Most successful was Dino Zamparelli (JTR), the Silverstone double race winner posting third and second fastest laps.
Championship leader Charlie Eastwood (Redline Racing) was unable to match Zamparelli’s performance, but starting just behind in fourth and third leaves him with a good chance to defend his four-point dropped score advantage. Giving himself a key role to play in the title chase was Tio Ellinas, Zamparelli’s JTR team mate and the 2017 Rookie champion completing his best qualifying session of the year to line up second and third.
As the 21 competitors completed their opening laps the red flag came out early as Ross Wylie (Slidesports) put himself out of the session at Stirlings. The session restarted with 24 minutes remaining and it was Cammish who immediately set a marker half a second clear of the field. Eastwood slotted into second, followed by Dan then Euan McKay (Redline Racing), setting up a battle to be second behind Cammish. First Ellinas improved to take the position, then Tom Oliphant (Redline Racing) and finally Eastwood again. The Porsche GB 2016 / 2017 Scholar began to reduce the gap, his seventh lap just 0.186 seconds away from arch rival Cammish. Zamparelli was on the move too, his best only 0.310 seconds away in third, while Ellinas displaced Oliphant for fourth.
With 15 minutes left to run, the grid headed to the pits for the mid-session tyre change. As the first cars emerged, Karl Leonard (Team Parker Racing) stopped on the run into Paddock Hill bringing out the yellow flags briefly while he was recovered. The last five minutes saw sector times improving, typically the first fast lap coming from Cammish, 0.433 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
Zamparelli could only close to within 0.309 seconds in second as Ellinas posted personal best sectors behind, crossing the line 0.265 seconds away from Cammish and securing second fastest time of the session. Euan McKay moved into fifth, and looked to be on an even faster lap when he ended up in the gravel on the Grand Prix loop.
In Pro-Am1, category leader Alex Martin (Team Parker Racing) was in control of the session from the outset, never looking under threat as he began the defence of his three-point championship advantage at the top of the category with two pole positions. For much of the session title rival Justin Sherwood (Team Parker Racing) was his closest challenger, but in the end it was 2015 Pro-Am2 champion John McCullagh (Redline Racing) who came through with two second places. Sherwood starts third in both races, needing to finish four places ahead of Martin in total to secure his second Pro-Am1 title.
Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) looked similarly determined in Pro-Am2. Tied on the record number of wins in the Pro-Am2 category, Kyle-Henney still trails Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) by three points after a consistent run of podiums from the Belfast driver. However, Jennings lines up third for both races with Iain Dockerill (Asset Advantage Racing) producing a strong qualifying pace for two second place starts. Jennings needs to keep over three places ahead of Kyle-Henney across both races to secure his first Pro-Am2 title.
With the points gap closer than ever in all three championships, each title could go to the very last lap of the very last race. For Cammish, his focus will be on ending an era that he has made his own with two wins. However, Ellinas could be a wild card from the front row of race one, having won his title already and hungry for a maiden win. Team mate Zamparelli will waste no time capitalising on any opportunity while Eastwood will have to pick and choose carefully how he gambles with his four-point advantage.
Round fourteen gets underway with a rolling start at 10.40 tomorrow over a distance of 17 laps. Round fifteen takes place over the same distance at 16.17