The British GT Championship roared into life once more at Oulton Park in Cheshire with two practice sessions and qualifying.
Barwell Motorsport immediately signalled its intent for the season, with Sam Tordoff taking the No. 6 Gard-X Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the top of the times in Free Practice 1, whilst 2016 championship runner up Phil Keen would take the sister No. 33 Demon Tweeks Huracan to the top in Free Practice 2.
GT4 saw Academy Motorsport, with the No. 62 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Matt Nicoll-Jones and Will Moore, and Black Bull Garage 59, with the #100 McLaren 570s GT4 of Ciaran Haggerty and Sandy Mitchell, take the spoils in Free Practice 1 and 2 respectively.
As early evening approached, it was time for qualifying. The Am times would set the grid for race one, whilst the Pro times would set the grid for race two.
The big boys came out to play first, and it would be an intense three way fight for the overall pole throughout the session between Rick Parfitt Jr, in the No. 31 Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3, Jon Minshaw, in the No. 33 Lamborghini and the debuting No. 24 Macmillan AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Jack Mitchell.
Mitchell took first blood, only to have a back and forth with Minshaw before Parfitt came through and smashed the best time by 0.4 seconds to secure the Race 1 pole.
Defending champion Derek Johnston ended up not completing a timed lap and, with Jonny Adam unable to qualify due to FIA World Endurance Championship duties, it looks like it will be a challenging start to the pairing’s title defense.
The Am qualifying in GT4 saw Sandy Mitchell charge his way to pole, albeit only 0.016 seconds ahead of the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 of Stuart Middleton.
Seb Morris would set the first sub 1:33 GT3 lap of Oulton Park in order to take pole for race two, in the No. 31 Bentley, in the GT3 Pro session. Keen would only be 0.135 seconds behind, whilst the top five would be covered by under 0.630 seconds; this sets the scene for two very close races indeed.
Records would also be broken as Mike Simpson would take the No. 111 Century Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4, which he shares with Anna Walewska, to the front of the grid for race two. Haggerty would take the #100 McLaren to second fastest.
David Pittard would bring the No. 51 Lanan G55 up to third place on the grid, whilst the fourth place would be taken by Martin Plowman in the UltraTek Nissan 370Z GT4, a good showing from the former WEC LMP2 Champion and Le Mans Winner.
The first of the two races kicks off at 11:10 on Monday morning.