Photo: Blancpain GT Series
Jordan Pepper, at the wheel of the #107 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 he shares with Steven Kane and Jules Gounon, set the quickest time in the 90-minute Free Practice session for the second round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup on the 5.891 kms Grand Prix Circuit at Silverstone.
Pepper lapped in 2.00.009 on his second lap in a session where, surprisingly, nobody broke below the two-minute lap-time barrier. In comparison, the quickest time set in the equivalent 2018 practice session, albeit with higher ambient and track temperatures, was a 1:58.781.
Second quickest was the #52 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3 Pro-Am entry in which Andrea Bertolini lapped in 2:00.058.
Completing the top three at the head of the time sheets was the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in which Charlie Eastwood put in a 2:00.199.
Quickest of the Am Cup entries was the #33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari that lapped in 2:00.880 in the hands of Christian Hook.
Philippe Steveny, at the wheel of the #9 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6 GT3 he shares with Karim Ojjeh and Marc Rostan, had an off-track moment at Turn 4 which briefly neutralised the 90-minute session with less than ten minutes run. The Belgian driver was able to get the #9 BMW back on to the circuit and return to the garage.
The #107 Bentley, in the hands of Jordan Pepper, set the early pace by lapping in 2:00.009 on his second lap with Andrea Bertolini, piloting the #51 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3, setting a 2:00.058. However after 35 minutes of track running, the risk of times being set below two minutes seemed remote, the teams being cautious on their tyre usage.
Salih Yoluc, taking over the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 from teammate Charlie Eastwood, had two interesting moment as he got up to speed and the #20 GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, in the hands of Benjamin Goethe, was also off the circuit on four occasions with a high-speed off at Abbey with 37 minutes to go.
Kane, who, after nearly an hour of running, was at the wheel of the pace-setting #107 Bentley, spun at Club as the session approached the 60-minute mark.
As Free Practice entered the final 30 minutes, the session was red-flagged for the second time after Remon Vos, piloting the #74 RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, went off the track and struck the tyre barrier with sufficient force to damage both the right-hand side of the #74 car and the barrier. The clock remained running and the session resumed with just under 20 minutes remaining.
The red flag came out for the third and final time with under seven minutes remaining due to, what was assumed to be, a spin by Nicki Thiim in the #76 R –Motorsport Aston Martin at Turn 6. However confusion ensued when, with the session still shown as red-flagged, the cars were allowed to exit the pit-lane and return to the circuit. All drivers observed the speed limit as questions were asked of Race Control to clarify the situation. Shortly after, the race director announced that the session would not be resumed and the grid returned to the pits.
The Solz/Engel/Buurman-crewed #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 was ninth quickest with 2:00.57. The Monza-winning #54 Dinamic Motorport Porsche, driven by Andrea Rizzoli, Klaus Bachler and Zaid Ashkanani finished 30th on the time-sheets with a 2:01.723
The 90-minute Pre-qualifying session for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup grid gets underway at 15:40 local time on Saturday May 11 with the lights going out for the three-hour race at 15:00 local time on Sunday May 12.