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Dino Lunardi Streaks To Blancpain Series Pole Position

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Pole sitting Aplina B6 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Pole sitting Aplina B6 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Frenchman Dino Lunardi helped the Marc VDS Racing run Alpina B6 to pole position for the Blancpain Endurance Series finale at Silverstone with a fantastic run in the final session.

Qualifying for the three hour race was spilt into three fifteen minute sessions, with each driver in the three man teams taking the driving seat. Nikolous MeyrMeinhof started things for the Alpina squad setting the fastest time in of the opening exchange – 2:01.982.

That marker was soon eclipsed in the second part of qualifying by Nico Verdonck in the no. Vita4One Ferrari 458 who took provisional overall pole by knocking nearly four tenths off the initial marker. In turn Verdonck's time was made irrelevant by his Belgian teammate Matteo Bobbi with a time of 2:01.434.

Bobbi was one of several drivers to improve their car's best times early in the final session. Four drivers piled past Meyr-Meinhof's earlier time, which had still been good enough for second place behind Verdonck after Q2. Stephane Ortelli put the no.32 Audi second, Filip Salaquarda the no.29 Ferrari – another from Michael Bartels' Vita4One stable – third and Raffaele Gianmaria the AutOlando Sport Porsche fourth.

Lunardi led the second run of drivers to colonise the top of the grid. His time of 2:00.742 briefly led his Marc VDS teammate Maxime Martin's BMW Z4 to threaten a 1-2 result for the Belgian team. Ortelli improved the WRTBelgian Audi Club car to third, ahead of Bobbi.

The GT and sportscar veteran went faster still with two minutes of the session remaining, his time of 2:01.141 splitting the two BMWs and securing second on the grid.

Lunardi too had a faster lap left, lapping more than a second faster that Ortelli (2:00.094) to emphatically claim pole position.

“The gap between myself and Stephane [Ortelli] is very important but this track really suits our car,” sdaid Lunardi. “At other tracks like Navarra the gap would be smaller and I think Silverstone is a special track for us. The weather is cold, and maybe we’ll get some rain tomorrow, so the story may be different. We are very happy with pole position and we will try our best tomorrow to win the race.”

Behind Bobbi's provisional pole from the start of Q3 was shuffled back to fifth place, British GT regular Matt Griffin moving the AF Corse Ferrari ahead. The pair of McLaren MP4-12C – the car making its British racing debut – will start sixth and seventh thanks to the efforts of Phil Quaife (no.60) and Alvaro Parente (no.59) in the final session.

The no.33 Audi team, including GT3 Pro Cup points lead Greg Franchi, will start in fourteenth place.

Bartels, completing the line-up in the no.2 Ferrari running in the Pro-Am Cup set the pole position time for that class.

Like the main class possession of the honour changed wither each session. Godfrey Jones had led the class after the first fifteen minutes in the PreciSpark Mercedes SLS, before Peter Kox took it for the BlancpainReiter Lamborghini squad with a time that was good enough for third overall at the end of Q2.

Bartels took the option of new tyres with five minute left of the final session and used the additional grip to take pole position away from SOFREV ASP driver Ludovic Badey. Initially the margin was just one-thousandth of a second but a final flying lap moved Bartels further clear with a 2:01.902, good enough for ninth overall.

Vita4One Pro-Am Cup Ferrari 458 (Photo Credit: Chris Gurton Photography)

Michael Bartels claimed Pro-Am Cup pole, but expected better

“I expected a bit better performance,” he admitted. “It wasn’t my best qualifying and I’m not so happy with the set up of the car because I’m comparing my lap with the Pro Cup cars. So we have to do some more work tonight to get a better general feeling in the car for the long distance race. At the moment the car is a bit tricky to drive but I will try to support my two teammates who are trying to win the Pro-Am championship. It is good to be ahead of the nr20 Ferrari but it’s a long race, a 3-hour race, and anything can happen.”

GT4 honours went to the Lotus Sport Italia Evora. Both the Lotus squad and the RJN Motorsport Nissan improved their time in each session, the battle for pole coming down to the final fifteen minutes and drivers Greg Mansell and Alex Buncombe. However, the Evora remained ahead of the Nissan throughout, their final times seven-tenths apart.

Chris Dymond set GT3 Gentleman Trophy pole in the Sport Garage entered Ferrari 430 Scuderia. Marco Cassera placed the only Cup Class entry – the De Lorenzi Racing Porsche – 26th overall on the 29 car grid.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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