Dino Zamparelli (Redline Racing) claimed the fourth pole position of his Carrera Cup GB career in the first qualifying session of 2018. Zamparelli maintained his leading pace from Friday’s practice sessions but was closely pursued by his former team mate, Lewis Plato (JTR), who lines up alongside him for the season-opening race. Starting third, just 0.058s off the front row in his first race, will be Plato’s team mate, 17-year-old Porsche GB 2018 / 2019 Junior, Dan Harper (JTR).
The top 14 cars were covered by less than one second (0.941s), while in the Pro category less than half a second (0.417s) covered the top six cars. Almost the same again (0.448s) separated the entire Pro-Am field. The closely-matched class of 2018 includes 10 returning and 11 new drivers, together with a new generation of car in the second-generation ‘Type 991’ 911 GT3 Cup.
During the first half of a session that was dry and sunny, Zamparelli, Plato, Harper, Tio Ellinas (Slidesports) and Rookie George Gamble (Amigos Team Parker) traded fastest times. Jamie Orton (JTR) set the early pace in Pro-Am with Peter Kyle-Henney (IN2 Racing) doing the same in the Am category. With their first runs banked, all the drivers made their traditional stop around the halfway point. Kyle-Henney, Gary Eastwood (G-Cat Racing), Rory Collingbourne (Welch Motorsport) and Shamus Jennings (G-Cat Racing) were the first to emerge onto an almost clear track. In only his second session behind the wheel of a racing Porsche, former BTCC star James Kaye (GT Marques) continued his progress up the leaderboard.
Despite a slight rise in track temperature over the 30 minute session, the second set of qualifying runs for all 21 drivers saw only marginal improvements. Several drivers posted personal best sector times, but Harper and Dan Vaughan (Motorbase), were two of the few that put together a faster overall lap time.
Of the Pro-Am drivers, Orton lapped quickest and starts tomorrow’s race at the front of the category having ended the session just 0.141s ahead of Vaughan, Seb Perez (Amigos Team Parker) a scant 0.015s behind in third. Underlining the speed he showed in practice, Kyle-Henney topped the times in the Am category throughout, chased by Rookie Peter Mangion (Team Parker Racing) who progressively closed the gap over the course of the session. Reigning category champion Jennings completes the top three, 0.203s further behind.
Under the revised 2018 Carrera Cup GB race format, Zamparelli’s pole position for the first of tomorrow’s races has already earned him two championship points, as the top qualifiers in their respective categories – Orton and Kyle-Henney – also receive two points each. The grid for the second race will be decided immediately following race one. The overall winner will draw a number between four and six at random, deciding whether the first four, five or six competitors will have their grid positions reversed. The remaining drivers will form the grid for race two according to their finishing positions in race one.
Rounds one and two take place on Sunday 8 April at 10.00 and 15.40 respectively. Both races will now feature a standing start, Zamparelli will be in determined mood off the line in round one, while former team mate Plato will be hoping the traditionally fast-starting second place grid slot will launch him into Paddock Hill ahead. Follow the battles at @CarreraCupGB on Twitter.