World’s Fastest Gamer James Baldwin and team-mate Michael O’Brien will start the British GT finale at Silverstone fourth on the grid, while Jenson Button and Chris Buncombe struggled.
Jenson Team Rocket RJN co-owners Button and Buncombe have joined the field for the season-concluding Silverstone 500 in an additional McLaren, for what will be Button’s first real-world racing start of 2020.
Buncombe was 18th fastest in his section of qualifying, with Button 19th in part two, putting them 18th on aggregated times. Both drivers were just off 2s off the pace.
Baldwin was Barwell Lamborghini driver Rob Collard’s main challenger for provisional pole in opening qualifying, ending up 0.274s shy in second place.
With O’Brien’s time added, that translated to fourth on the grid – behind Collard and Sandy Mitchell’s Lamborghini plus the two RAM Racing Mercedes.
Baldwin and O’Brien need to win the race with both Barwell Lamborghinis and the Sam de Haan/Patrick Kujala RAM Mercedes all having poor results to snatch the title. Phil Keen and Adam Balon start fifth in the second championship-chasing Barwell entry.
Button was surprised and disappointed to be so far from the pace, with an inability to generate tyre temperature the main element holding him and Buncombe back.
“We didn’t get any testing before we came racing here and Chris hasn’t driven for 14 months or something and I’ve never driven a GT3 car, so it’s not been the easiest!” said Button.
“But there’s definitely something missing. We’re really struggling to get tyre temperature. It’s so cold.
“We’re pushing as hard as we can but you’re on the back foot if you don’t do any testing. You can always copy the other car, but what suits these guys doesn’t seem to be working for us.
“You can put a few tenths down to just not being experienced in this type of car, but that’s a bit of a joke” :: Jenson Button
“We’ve tried lots of different things in the set-up but none of it really matters if you can’t get any tyre temperature.
“You come out of the pits and the front tyres are shuddering, and when you’ve finished the run they’re still shuddering. You’re just waiting the whole time to get the car working.
“We don’t know why, we’re looking at it. 2.5s off the quickest car is not normal. You can put a few tenths down to just not being experienced in this type of car, but that’s a bit of a joke.”
Though tomorrow’s three-hour race should give Button and Buncombe ample time to make progress, the 2009 Formula 1 champion did warn that the forecast cold temperature might not help their situation.
But he added: “It’s not easy, but tomorrow’s another day and we should have a lot of fun out there.”