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Keen and Minshaw storm to overall British GT Brands Hatch pole

Saturday, August 05 2017

British GT Championship leaders Phil Keen and Jon Minshaw will start from pole position in a Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit tomorrow (Sunday) following a tricky split qualifying session this afternoon. Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore claimed pole position in the GT4 class for Academy Motorsport in an Aston Martin.

The four-session qualifying period began in damp conditions, and it was the GT3-AM gentleman drivers that took to the circuit first. From the off, Minshaw appeared to be the man to beat amidst the spray by setting several increasingly rapid lap times to top the table early on.

MacMillan AMR Aston Martin Vantage driver James Littlejohn did his best to challenge Minshaw, moving to first position with his fourth attempt before the Lamborghini responded with an even quicker lap time. Ultimately, Minshaw's best effort of 1m38.310s was the fastest time of the opening session.

Littlejohn remained second as the GT3-AM session concluded, with Liam Griffin in the second Barwell Lamborghini third. The top-five was completed by the Mark Farmer in a TF Sport Aston Martin, and Richard Neary in the Team ABBA Mercedes-AMG.

The GT3-PRO drivers were out next and Keen picked up immediately where Minshaw left off to set a seemingly endless string of fastest lap times, before finally improving to a time of 1m34.946s. Keen was the only man to dip into the 1m34s and it capped off an imperious display from the championship leading duo.

It was a similar story in second position with Jack Mitchell backing up Littlejohn's effort to secure the second berth on the front row of the grid. Jon Barnes was able to move the TF Sport Aston he shares with Farmer up to third, with ex-BTCC racer securing fourth for himself and Griffin. Fifth place was cemented by Adam Christodoulou who is sharing Neary's Mercedes this weekend.

By the time the GT4 cars took to the track, the sun had re-emerged and the track conditions began to rapidly improve. The GT4-AM drivers kicked things off and it was Irishman Niall Murray who was the surprise package, as he set the fastest time of the session in the Century Motorsport Ginetta he co-drives with Jacob Mathiassen.

When the GT4-Pro runners emerged on track for the final 10-minute qualifying session, the track surface had improved enough for slick dry tyres to become a viable option. Those who made the switch were to be the main beneficiaries, Matt Nicoll-Jones eventually securing class pole for himself and Moore during a final flurry of improving lap-times.

Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell will start from second in class in their Garage 59 McLaren 570s, whilst Mathiassen secured third for himself and the impressive debutant Murray.

The British GT Championship race will take centre stage on the Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit tomorrow and is scheduled to take place at 14:10. The two-hour showpiece will feature driver changes, multi-class racing, and plenty of intrigue.

Tickets for the British GT Championship at Brands Hatch on Sunday 6 August will be available on the gate for £25 with free entry for under-13s.