Christopher Haase Takes Pole For Race Two.
Vincent Abril, at the wheel of the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shares with Raffaele Marciello, snatched pole position in the dying seconds of the first qualifying session for Race One and Round Six of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series and the third weekend of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Series at Circuit Zandvoort.
The Monegasque driver lapped the 4.252 km circuit in 1:44.572, exactly half a second quicker than Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán who put in a 1:45.072 on his sixth lap of eight. Completing the top three for the first race of the weekend’s double-header was the current leader of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Andrea Caldarelli, driving the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini he shares with Marco Mapelli.
Qualifying got under way at the circuit in the dunes with a damp track forcing drivers to search for grip on wet tyres around the 4.252 km circuit.
Quickest of the Silver Cup drivers in the first session was #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes driven by Felipe Fraga who put in a 1:46.088. Fraga will start on class pole ahead of Nico Bastian in #89 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes who lapped in 1:46.108, .020 seconds behind Fraga in the #90 car.
Pole position for the Pro-Am Class went to the #24 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the hands of Nyls Stievenart and the sole AM Class entry, the #444 HB Racing Ferrari F488 GT3, was lapped in 1:48.740 with Florian Scholze at wheel.
Vincent Abril was pleased to get pole position but was quick to recognise his pit crew for the tyre change that gained him the advantage at the session’s close.
“It was very tricky out there – the track was cold,” said Abril. “ It was just some lines that were dry. I told the team ‘let’s go for slicks’ because I think it was the cut-off point. We were really close to it but it was a tight qualifying session but the guys nailed it. They did a great pit stop. I just crossed the line a couple of seconds before the flag and I’m super happy! It’s been a long time since we got a pole in such a championship. It feels really good. The momentum is back in the team!”
Qualifying for Race Two got underway with most teams opting for slicks on the drying circuit although drivers had to take care over the remaining damp sections.
Times immediately started tumbling with Dries Vanthoor setting the early pace with a 1:39.329 on his third lap. The table changed rapidly at the top as times started to get down into the 1:38s with Vanthoor again going quickest on his fourth lap with a 1:38.320.
The sun was breaking through and the track continued to dry, encouraging drivers to push harder as the 20-minute session approached its final quarter.
When the chequered flag was shown for the end of the session, it was the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi driven by Christopher Haase who headed the timing sheets with a 1:35.636 set on his ninth lap. Joining the German driver on the front row of the grid for Race Two will be Dries Vanthoor in the #1 Audi who lapped in 1:35.792 on his final lap. Completing the top three was the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes which lapped in 1:35.796 in the hands of World Challenge Europe drivers standings leader Maro Engel.
“Being on pole position, especially in these conditions at Zandvoort, is something that is tough to do, said Christopher Haase. “I have to say that Team Sainteloc did a great job to support me in this situation. The Audi is running really great. Pole position is the first job that you can do but the race is even tougher. Now we have to be focused and stay focused and hope for a trophy at the end of the weekend.
Class honours for Race Two in the Silver Class went to the #56 Attempto Racing Audi with a 1:35.994 in the hands of Mattia Drudi. The #56 car finished fourth quickest overall.
Pro-Am pole position for Race Two went to Jim Pla in the #87 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes.
Race One of the weekend’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe double-header gets underway at 14:35 local time on Saturday July 13.