The #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo, piloted by Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart will start from pole position for the opening round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series after the team lapped the historic 4.250-km circuit in an average of 2:05.295 in a qualifying session hampered by heavy rain and multiple stoppages.
Starting alongside the #63 car on the front row will be the #90 Akka ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the Silver Cup driver line-up of Timur Bogulavskiy, Felipe Fraga and Nico Bastian who averaged 2:05.743
Completing the overall top three was #2 Team WRT Audi, piloted by Dries Vanthoor, Alex Riberas and Ezequiel Perez Companc.
The three-part qualifying session got underway at 09:45 local time with rain, cold temperatures and a wet circuit to greet the drivers but not the torrential downpour that had been forecast.
Raffaele Marciello, at the wheel of the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3, set the early pace in the first session with a 2:06.141 on his second lap.
However it was difficult for the grid to get into a rhythm as the session was red-flagged with 9:02 remaining after Davide Roda, in the #110 Antonelli Motorsports entry went off, causing damage to the front right corner of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 he shared with Marco Antonelli and Giuseppe Cipriani.
When the session resumed, the rain was falling more heavily and significant spray was hampering visibility. The session was red-flagged for the second time with seven minutes remaining after the #20 GPX Racing Porsche spun exiting the pits, being driven in the session by Benjamin Goethe.
Although some drivers and teams were requesting that the session be abandoned, qualifying resumed.
As Q1 drew to a close. Mirko Bortolotti, driving the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo found track space and put in a 2:06.007 to top the time sheets. Marciello’s 2:06.141 was good enough to retain second with Jim Pla’s 2:06.239 in the AKKA Asp Team Mercedes in third with a 2:06.239.
Quickest of the AM class in the first session was Stefano Costantini in the #29 Raton Racing by Target Lamborghini.
The second session got underway with the rain easing slightly but was red-flagged with less than five minutes run after Mauro Ricci, driving the #87 Akka ASP Team Mercedes, went off at the first Lesmo and Louis Machiels went off in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3. No lap-times had been recorded when the session was stopped.
The #17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi, being driven by Paul Petit in the second session, sustained damage after contact with a car in front and was withdrawn from the race.
“I don’t understand what happened,” said Petit when the car was back in the garage. “For me it is not possible to drive like this. The guy in front of me is on the straight. He has just overtaken a guy and I don’t understand what he does. Look in your mirror! It is very bad for the race.”
A second red-flag was shown with 7:01 when the #31 Team Parker Racing entry, with Rob Smith at the wheel, came off at Variante Ascari, causing major damage to the Bentley Continental GT3 he shared with Derek Pierce and Seb Morris. The #29 Raton Racing by Target Lamborghini also went off at the first chicane, Antonio Forne Tomas the driver.
At conclusion of the second session, Jordan Witt, driving the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini, headed the time sheets with a 2:05.205.
Times started to fall as the third session got underway with Alex Riberas setting a 2:03.383 in the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi, putting the car to the top of the average times and provisional pole position.
Ricardo Sanchez had an off–track excursion at the exit of the Parabolica in the #10 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi and remained stuck in the gravel. The red flag was shown once again in order to safely recover the stricken #10 car, leaving 3:22 left to run. The session was not resumed.
With the three heavily interrupted session completed, overall pole position went to the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan, piloted by Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart with the #90 Akka ASP Team Mercedes, driven by Silver Cup drivers Timor Bogulavskiy, Felipe Fraga and Nico Bastian lining up alongside.
Completing the overall top three on the grid for the three-hour race was the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi, piloted by Dries Vanthoor, Alex Riberas and Ezequiel Perez Companc.
With a forecast of overcast conditions but little rain, the lights go out for the opening round of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series at 15:00 local time on Sunday April 14