Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Laurens Vanthoor has snuck a strong pole position for the team at Misano as he got the best of the Adriatic circuit to claim pole for the first round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.
Second overall after qualifying one and two, which would find the twenty cars to go through to Q3, Vanthoor had Felix Rosenqvist ahead of him in the #88 Team AKKA ASP Mercedes AMG GT3 by only 0.001s. Rosenqvist couldn’t carry on the same form in Q3, he will start this evening’s qualifying race in eighth.
Indeed even at the front in Q3 it was a close result, with Alvaro Parente leading for a lot of the final running in the #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S before Vanthoor went 0.015s faster with a 1:33.262. However, they could have both been beaten by Franck Perera in the #74 ISR Audi R8 LMS before his lap was cancelled for not respecting track limits.
That promoted Norbert Siedler in the Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia to third place and in a good position to capitalise any mistakes from the McLaren and Audi at the rolling start.
After the session, Vanthoor said: “I feel very lucky to be on pole here. We achieved that multiple times last year but the entry list has more than doubled since then and, as a result, the quality is much higher. There are a lot of very good drivers and teams. So to be on pole is very satisfying, and even more so given how important it is to be starting near the front with such a large grid.”
The battle for Pro-Am Cup pole was a lot less competitive with Giacomo Piccini in the Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 setting a pole time that would put him fifth overall. He said: “Now that we are near the front of the pack, we will try to get a good result overall, but our main focus remains the Pro-Am Cup.”
In the Am Cup it was a very strange session for AF Corse and Stéphane Lemeret who set the fastest time with a 1:34.986 to put himself 32nd but an engine change means that car will start in pit lane. Lemeret added: “It’s a shame to be starting at the back but I think we have the pace to claw a lot of positions back during the race. We’ll aim to score points in the qualifying race and see where that leaves us for tomorrow.”
Finally the Sliver Cup and Michael Meadows made sure he and Stuart Leonard got off on the right foot for new team WRT as he claimed pole position and eight overall by clocking a 1:33.747.
Meadows commented after qualifying: “It was tough out there; definitely a case of who was bravest and could get it done early enough. I waited until lap two and built up a bit which, in hindsight, probably wasn’t the right thing to do. The races are short enough that you can’t afford to take it easy at any point so we’ll just do our own thing and see how it works out.”
The qualifying race takes place at 7:30pm UK time tonight.