Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe

Double Pole For Marciello And Abril as Stolz and Engel Out-Qualify Mapelli And Calderelli in Drivers Championship Battle. (07.09.19)

Raffaele Marciello and Vincent Abril, teammates in the #88 AKKA ASP team Mercedes-AMG GT3, have taken a double pole position for the final round of the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge at the Hungaroring.

Marciello took pole position for Race One of the final two one-hour contests of the season, the Italian driver lapping in 1:43.049, .204 seconds quicker than Luca Stolz in the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 who will start alongside the #88 car on the front row of the grid.

The top three qualifiers for race One were completed by Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 who lapped in 1:43.408.

Quickest of the Silver Cup category for the first race was the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes crewed by Thomas Neubauer and Nico Bastian, Neubauer lapping the 4.381 kms circuit in 1:43.665. Second quickest inn the Silver Cup category was the sister #90 Mercedes in which Timur Bogislavskiy set a 1:43.795.

Class honours in the Pro-Am category went to the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari F488 GT3, Rinat Salikhov setting a 1:44.749.

Pole position for Race Two also went to the #88 Mercedes, Vincent Abril setting a 1:42.994, .092 seconds quicker than the #63 GRT Grasser Racing team Lamborghini driven by Christian Engelhart. Dries Vanthoor in the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 completed the top three.

Qualifying got underway under overcast and humid conditions, the race director declaring a wet track, with the threat of further rain in the air.

Aurelian Panis in the #23 Tech 1 Racing Lexus TCF GT3 set the first flying lap time of 1:45.477 but the championship-leading #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 with Marco Mapelli at the wheel quickly went to the top of timing screens with a 1:44.182.

After a disappointing season, by his standards, and with less than ten minutes remaining, Raffaele Marciello put the #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 on provisional pole with a 1:43.600 but Mirko Bortolotti was pushing the #63 GRT Grasser Racing team Lamborghini hard to lap .192 seconds quicker with a 1:43.408, the quickest lap of the weekend to that point.

Ricky Collard, winner of race Two at the Nürburgring the previous week, pitted after six laps after setting the sixth quickest time of the session with a 1:44.054. Collard returned to the session to finish fourth quickest with a 1:43.611.

With less than two minutes remaining, Luca Stolz, currently second in the drivers champions with teammate Maro Engel, lapped in 1:43.253 to take a critical provisional pole position but Raffaele Marciello had an ace up his sleeve and set a 1:43.049 on his seventh lap, taking the vital additional point away from the #4 Mercedes crew.

As session finished, the #563 Lamborghini sat in eighth position in the timing screens, Mapelli managing to lap no better than a 1:43.748.

“It’s not been a great season for us but I really wanted the pole and the car was great, thanks to AKKA,” said Raffaele Marciello. “I’m quite happy about my lap. It’s quite difficult to overtake on this track so being on pole gives us an advantage but the start is also quite difficult so I have a good position for that.”

Following the session, it was announced that the #63 car was under investigation for impeding.

The track was continuing to dry as the second 20-minute session got underway.

Lap times struggled to improve and, as the session approached the halfway mark, Felipe Fraga sat on provisional pole with a 1:43.274 in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes.

With five minutes remaining, the majority of the field rejoined the circuit for a final attack on the grid for Race Two. Immediately Vincent Abril in the #88 Mercedes set a 1:42.994 to take a potential double-pole for the French team.

As the chequered flag came out for the end of the session, it Abril who was on pole, to be joined on the front row of the grid by Christian Engelhart in the #63 Lamborghini who set a 1:43.086 on his seventh lap. Completing the top three was the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 in which Dries Vanthoor lapped in 1:43.154.

Pole position in the Silver Cup category went to the #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes driven by Felipe Fraga with a 1:43.274 while the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes piloted by Nico Bastian.

The Pro-Am Cup category pole was taken by the #87 Mercedes in which Jim Pla set a 1:43.401.

In the Drivers Championship, early advantage went to Stolz and Engel who will start ahead of Mapelli and Caldarelli in both races. The #563 Lamborghini lost a lap time in the second session due to track limit abuse with the result that team owner Andrea Caldarelli will start from thirteenth on the grid.

“I’ve asked the guys to check the video because I was at the limit but I was not really sure about that,” said Andrea Caldarelli, back in the garage. “It was a good lap from me so it’s a pity. I don’t know what to say, honestly.”

Race One of the final round of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe gets underway at 15:10 local time on Saturday September 7.