Vanthoor Bounces Back to Claim Brands Hatch Pole Position in WRT Audi

Laurens Vanthoor

Blancpain GT champion Laurens Vanthoor produced an outstanding recovery to claim pole position for himself, Robin Frijns and the WRT Audi team in qualifying for the Sprint Series round at Brands Hatch.

After the #1 R8 car had missed the opening races at Nogaro after a qualifying crash for GT debutant Frijns, the pair missed further track time on Saturday morning due to an electrical issue in first practice and then another shunt for Vanthoor in the second session.

After WRT had repaired the car, Vanthoor repaid his crew with a stunning qualifying performance, setting single flying laps early in both Q2 and Q3 that were almost half a second clear of the best that the opposition could manage.

Nicky Catsburg took second place in on the grid in the Reiter Lamborghini he shares with Albert von Thurn und Taxis, beating Christopher Mies by a hundredth of a second in Q3.

The #2 WRT Audi that Mies shares with Enzo Ide will share row two with the MRS Nissan of Britons Craig Dolby and Sean Walkinshaw on their home ground.

Dolby’s Q2 lap was only just good enough to sneak through into Q3 after Walkinshaw had been second in Q1, but once there, the ex-Superleague Formula ace produced a lap good enough for P4.

After taking its maiden victory in the main race at Nogaro with on-loan factory drivers Maxime Martin and Dirk Muller, BMW Team Brazil locked out the third row of the grid as its regular quartet joined the action after Stock Car commitments forced them out of the opener. Valdeno Brito put himself and Atila Abreu fifth in the Nogaro-winning #77, in front of the #0 of Sergio Jimenez and Caca Bueno.

The guesting Triple Eight BMW will line up seventh on the grid after Joe Osborne – sharing with his regular British GT co-driver Lee Mowle this weekend – outpaced Markus Winkelhock, Rob Bell and Bernd Schneider in Q3.

Winkelhock and Niki Mayr-Melnhof will start eighth in their Phoenix Racing Audi, while Bell’s ninth came after Kevin Estre had set the Q1 pace in their Attempto Racing McLaren. Schneider was driving the GT Russian Mercedes he shares with Alexey Karachev.

Nogaro pole-sitter and qualifying race winner Stephane Ortelli had to make do with 16th in Q2 – co-driver Stephane Richelmi had been seventh in Q1 but most cars improved their times in the later session.

Maximilian Buhk eliminated his and Vincent Abril‘s Bentley from the weekend with a heavy crash in first practice on the exit of Paddock Hill Bend.