Alessandro Pier Guidi has claimed AF Corse’s first pole of this Blancpain GT Series season as he put in a late lap to claim pole for the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km.
Under the sunny skies at Le Castellet, it would appear that the third part of qualifying would be the one where Ferrari 488 teams made their move – after thinning down potential rivals in the mega 57 car grid – with the Pro-Am AF Corse machine of Olivier Beretta making a move early doors in the final session to go up to the top of the timesheets. They’d eventually finish second, not able to improve on their early pace.
That said, before many other Ferrari efforts could begin to lock-out the sharp end of the grid Shane Van Gisbergen in the Garage 59 McLaren 650S lunged up the field with a 1:56.557. However, McLaren wasn’t the only British manufacturer on the move with Maxime Soulet and Steven Kane moving their #8 and #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3s into third and fourth respectively after initially leading the class but not being able to get back into the lead when the AF Corse pair begun the climb up the field.
Soulet said after the session: “When the team came on the radio and said I was P1 I was like ‘wow!’ because we knew the Ferraris would be fast. In the end it wasn’t quite enough but this is still a very good result for Bentley, and one of the best since the Continental GT3 programme began. It will be good for both cars to start a six-hour race from third and fourth.”
With 57 cars on track, grid position is key and Pier Guidi will be very pleased to see the Ferrari start on the front row. He said: “The traffic was definitely key, along with AF Corse’s good work. The first two races were difficult but the car was brand new. It’s taken time for us to find the way but I am now very happy, both for myself and the crew because they have worked very hard.”
Beretta took pole in the AF Corse machine and it was another Ferrari that took second place in the Pro-Am Cup with Matteo Malucelli qualifying the Scuderia Praha car sixth overall. Third in class was also a Ferrari with Matt Griffin in yet another AF Corse entry qualifying just three-tenths behind in seventh overall.
Finally the AM Cup and it was a Ferrari lock-out of pole positions as David Perel stuck the Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia into the pole for that class, 30th position overall. His nearest rival is eight places behind, with yet another AF Corse entry – this one driven by Rino Mastronardi – in a good position for class glory.