Image credit: Jason Gore for SportsCarGlobal.
Under blue skies and warm temperatures Mirko Bortolotti smashed the Blancpain GT Series qualifying lap record at Silverstone this morning to secure pole position for round two of the 2016 Endurance Cup. Franck Perera lines up alongside the Italian having secured top spot in Pro-Am, while David Perel ended the session comfortably fastest of the Am Cup contingent.
Rowe Racing’s Maxime Martin and Philipp Eng respectively topped Q1 and Q2 for BMW, but it was Bortolotti who ‘produced the lap of [his] life’ to seal GRT Grasser Racing Team’s fourth Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup pole with the Lamborghini Huracan.
“I would say it was the lap of my life; really a perfect lap.” Bortolotti enthused “There was no traffic, which is so important in this championship with so many cars on track at the same time.
“If you get a free spot you need to go for it as soon as you can, and I managed to do that. I think we have good long-run pace to challenge for victory this afternoon.”
The Italian ace was entrusted with the final segment of qualifying after also topping yesterday’s afternoon session, and did not disappoint. The team’s pre-determined tyre-saving strategy saw him jump aboard with the #16 Huracan languishing at the bottom of the standings, before his subsequent 1:58.469 lap vaulted the car into pole position.
The time, 2.4s faster than the Series’ existing qualifying lap record, was also 0.268s quicker than Perera’s best, which had previously helped him hold provisional pole. The Frenchman’s ISR Audi R8 starts second ahead of Alexander Sims’ Q1 and Q2 pace-setting #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6.
HTP Motorsport’s Monza pole-winner Maxi Buhk starts fourth in his Mercedes-AMG, ahead of the crowd favourite Emil Frey-run Jaguar that secured its best-ever Blancpain GT Series qualifying result. It also means that we will have five different manufacturers in the first five grid positions for the race.
The Pro-Am top-three was completed by Scuderia Praha’s Matteo Malucelli (Ferrari) and Oman Racing Team’s Jonny Adam (Aston Martin), who had earlier seen co-driver Devon Modell stop at Brooklands with only three wheels on his V12 Vantage. Both cars start inside the top-10.
David Perel proved the class of the Am Cup class aboard his Kessel Racing Ferrari 458, which lapped six tenths faster than Gilles Vannelet’s AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG.
“I’m happy because this is my first time at Silverstone.” said Perel. “It is very satisfying, especially as my first ever race in 2014 was with Mirko. It is great to share the press conference with him.
“The lap was ok but not ideal as I was blocked by the #1 Audi, but I’m still very proud to be on pole on my Blancpain GT Series debut.
“I have played Playstation my whole life and raced at Silverstone over and over again, but never thought I would be here on pole. It’s truly surreal!”
Team Parker Racing’s Chris Harris completed the class top-there aboard his Bentley Continental.