Franck Perera’s efforts in the final part of qualifying placed the Pro-Am Cup class Pro GT by Almeras Porsche 911 on pole for the Silvertone round of the Blancpain Endurance Series.
The Frenchman set a best lap of 2:00.912 in the early part of the final 15 minute segment of qualifying and was able to hold onto the top spot until Romain Brandela’s off on the exit of Stowe corner brought the session to a halt three minutes before time. Perera will share the Porsche with countryman Eric Dermont during the race.
Perera’s effort pushed Monza pole winner Alvaro Parente down to second in the #98 ART Grand Prix McLaren co-driven by Gregoire Demoustier and Alex Premat. The Portuguese’s lap of 2:01.063 gave the team the Pro Cup pole, and puts the in the perfect position to take a second successive win. Alex Buncombe, who claimed pole position at Silverstone a year ago was third fastest in the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN car, just a single thousandth slower than Parente’s time and securing an all Pro-Am Cup front row.
Steven Kane gave the #7 M-Sport Bentley team another start in the front two rows ahead of the Sainteloc Racing #26 Audi and the #99 ART Grand Prix McLaren that completed the Monza podium behind the Parente led #98 crew. It was Gregory Guilvert who was responsible for the best lap in the Audi during the final part of the session, but it was Kevin Estre’s Q2 topping time that was the fastest of the three men in the #99, last man in Kevin Korjus unable to match his co-driver. Likewise Alessandro Bonacini’s time – second fastest in the middle part of qualifying – will see the #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari line-up seventh fastest.
HTP Motorsport’s #84 Mercedes, MP Motorsport’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 (courtesy of Richard Abra) and the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will complete the top ten overall, Marc Basseng in the #1 car another to set his team’s best time in the middle part of qualifying.
One of the reasons behind some of the Q2 times left standing at the end of the session was that only a select few drivers were able to make use of a second set of tyres in the final session before Brandela’s spin into the barriers on the inside of the track brought out the red flag.
Francisco Guedes gave the #51 AF Corse team pole in the Gentlemen Trophy class. Having posted a top 20 time in second practice yesterday Andy Schulz was unable to repeat his heroics in qualifying, he and teammate Paul Bailey to start from 30th – second in class – in the Horse Power Racing Aston.
The middle part of the session was the busiest in term of trading of top times with Estre, Basseng and Bonacini as well as M-Sport’s Andy Meyrick, HTP’s Nico Verdonck and Beechdean AMR’s Alex MacDowall all battling for the top spots through the session. MacDowall’s time was beaten by co-driver Daniel Lloyd in the final part of qualifying but those his lap was the tenth fastest of that segment the combining of times from all three segments will push the #107 Vantage GT3 just outside of the top ten.
British teams took a starring role in the first part of qualifying, MP Motorsport’s Joe Osborne setting the best lap – though his 2:06.283 was soon pushed aside in the later segments – ahead of Andrew Smith in Ecurie Ecosse’s BMW.