The unseasonable weather sweeping across Europe that had caused race-goers at the FIA World Endurance Championship round at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps to open their eyes this morning to a blanket of snow, caused havoc in the second Free Practice session for the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe season-opener at Brands Hatch.
Maro Engel in the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 set the quickest lap-time of the session with 1:22.930 on his thirteenth lap, after leaving the pits on what appeared to be fresh tyres. Engel lapped nearly half a second quicker than Christopher Mies in the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Evo.
The session had started with light drizzle in the air and a greasy racing surface. #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Evo pilot Dries Vanthoor set the early pace in the session by lapping in 1:24.066, some .225 seconds ahead of the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini being driven in the first part of the session by Mirko Bortolotti.
After 12 minutes of the session, the drizzle turned into something more persistent and rain began falling heavily, forcing teams to pit for a change of tyres.
Conditions then appeared to improve but, with eighteen minutes remaining, hail fell and again the grid had to pause to allow the squall to pass through. It appeared as if the remainder of the session would pass without incident until Ezequiel Perez Companc, at the wheel of the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi, went off at Clark Curve, causing damage to both car and barrier. The session was immediately red-flagged with the decision not to restart.
At the end of the session, third quickest overall was the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in the hands of Mirko Bortolotti who had put in a 1:23.457 on his 17th lap.
Quickest of the Pro-Am entries was the #52 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini with a 1:24.968, .059 seconds quicker than the #519 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini of Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Phil Keen.
Time sheets in the Silver Cup were headed by the #56 Attempto Racing Audi crewed by Milan Dontje and Mattia Drudi with a 1:24.233 ahead of the #89 Akka ASP Team Mercedes of Nico Bastian and Thomas Neubauer.
Qualifying gets underway at 15:55 on May 4 with two 20-minute sessions to establish the grids for Rounds One and Two.