Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe

GRT’s Bortolotti and WRT’s Vanthoor On Pole At Nürburgring (31.08.19)

Mirko Bortolotti, driving the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3, took pole position for Race One of the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe double-header at the Nürburgring, the Italian driver lapping the 5.148 km circuit in 1:54.926.

Pole position for Race Two went to the #1 Belgian Audi Club team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Dried Vanthoor who put in a 1:54.439 on his third lap.

Q1 got underway in clear and cool conditions but the 20-minute session was quickly red-flagged after a little over four minutes when the #111 KESSEL RACING Ferrari F488 GT3, Rory Penttinen at the wheel in car he shares with Stephen Earle, hit the barrier at Turn 10. Penttinen narrowly avoided overturning the #111 car and the session was suspended for four minutes.

After qualifying resumed with less than 16 minutes remaining, Marco Mapelli, in the #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 set the early pace with a 1:55.897, quickly bested by the #66 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 piloted by Kelvin van der Linde who lapped in 1:55.519.

However it was Mirko Bortolotti, driving the #63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini, who set the overall pole position time, having lapped in 1:54.926 on his ninth and final lap. Joining Bortolotti on the front row of the grid for Race One will be Luca Stolz, joint-leader in the drivers standings, driving the #4 BLACK FALCON Mercedes, who set a 1:55.087 on his eighth lap.

Completing the top three was the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi, Simon Gachet at the wheel, who put in a 1:55.446.

Quickest of the Silver Cup Class was the #56 Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Mattia Drudi who set a 1:55.519. Rinat Salikhov went quickest in the Pro-Am category, the Russian driver lapping in 1:56.592 in the #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari.

Mirko Bortolotti was quick to praise the hard work of GRT Grasser Racing Team in preparing the #63 Lamborghini for qualifying.

“It was a maximum lap and I’m really happy to be back on the pole again,” said Bortolotti. “I’m so thankful to the team – they did a mega job. Yesterday we worked really hard. We were not on point in FP1 but we, step by step, got there. Obviously, it’s the first time in the new car on the longer circuit so it’s great to be on pole, a fantastic starting position and I’m really happy and looking forward to the race!”

The #563 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini, now with team owner Andrea Caldarelli at the wheel, went to the top of the time sheets as the second session got underway, the Italian driver, currently second in the Blancpain GT World Challenge drivers standings, lapping in 1:55.219. However, with the track starting to warm up, it was the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi, piloted by Dries Vanthoor, who immediately countered with the first lap in either session under 1:54.5 with a 1:54.439 on his third lap.

Photo: Blancpain GT Series.

Vanthoor headed for the pit lane after four laps where the #1 Audi remained for the remainder of the session.

Vanthoor’s time was never bested throughout the closing minutes with the result that Belgian driver took pole position for Race Two. Joining Vanthoor on the front row for Sunday September 1’s 60-minute race will be the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi in which Christopher Haase set a 1:54.659 on his final lap.

Belgian Audi Club team WRT continued its successful session by also taking pole position in the Silver Cup category, Oscar Tunjo lapping the #10 Audi in 1:55.347

Pro-Am Cup honours went to the #333 Ferrari driven by David Perel who put in a 1:55.109 to take the second class pole of the day for Rinaldi Racing.

Vanthoor dedicated his pole position to WRT teammate Enzo ide who is currently in hospital.

“Big thanks to the mechanics,” said Vanthoor. “I would like to dedicate this pole to Enzo. We all know he is in hospital and maybe this gives him more strength to fight harder. We still have a race to go but it’s already something I can give so that’s nice.”

Race One gets underway at 14:30 local time on Saturday August 31.