GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti recorded the fastest time in a red flag-interrupted Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup Pre-Qualifying session at Silverstone this afternoon, although the Italian was unable to better Giancarlo Fisichella’s free practice benchmark.
Just one second covered the first 17 positions, which also comprised no less than eight manufacturers, suggesting that tomorrow morning’s qualifying session should once again be a dramatic affair.
The hour-and-a-half-long session was barely 10 minutes old when Bortolotti set the 1m59.873s lap that would remain unbeaten throughout the afternoon. Marco Mapelli came closest to toppling his countryman, but the Barwell Motorsport-run Lamborghini Huracan ultimately had to settle for second after recording a time just 0.080s slower.
Franck Perera backed up finishing second in free practice with third in Pre-Qualifying. The Frenchman was another driver to set his time early in the session before ISR, along with most teams, turned their attention to long-run set-up.
0.004s further back was Maro Engel in the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG, while Andy Soucek survived a clash with Nicolas Armindo – which resulted in a lengthy red flag period – to post the fifth fastest time late in the session behind the wheel of his Bentley Team M-Sport Continental.
Scuderia Praha’s Matteo Malucelli was the first of the Ferrari drivers in sixth, one place ahead of Alexander Sims’ Rowe Racing BMW M6, which set its fastest time just before the session was interrupted with 25 minutes remaining.
Indeed, the bizarre incident involving Armindo, whose Attempto Racing Porsche speared into the new start/finish straight pit-wall after tangling with Soucek’s Bentley, meant Pre-Qualifying finally restarted with less than 10 minutes remaining.
While some drivers elected to take new tyres for their final dash, it was actually a mistake from Michael Meadows at Becketts – which saw the #2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 cut part of the track – that helped the Briton unfairly leapfrog Bortolotti at the top. But there was no fooling Race Control who subsequently scratched the time.
Mapelli might have missed out on the fastest overall lap but his effort was still enough for Barwell to end the session top of Pro-Am, while the Stephen Earle/Bernard Delhez/David Perel Kessel Racing Ferrari once again finished quickest of the Am Cup contingent.
Qualifying for round two of this season’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup gets underway at 09:00 local time tomorrow morning, main race starts at 15:00.