Matt Griffin and AF Corse head field in Monza pre-qualifying

The AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 of Matt Griffin and Duncan Cameron has headed a field of 56 cars during pre-qualifying at the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup opening round at Monza.

The field, headed by the Pro-Am Cup entry of Griffin and Cameron, saw the first 24 cars covered by just one second – with Griffin’s time of 1:48.198 and Barwell Motorsport driver Marco Mapelli’s 1:49.194 covering a number of Pro and Pro-Am entries.

Indeed, Pro-Am entries filled the first four slots on the time sheets at the end of the 90 minute session with a second Ferrari 488, Giancarlo Fisichella’s AF Corse entry, parking itself second with a 1:48.232. In third was the older generation Ferrari GT3 – the 458 Italia – with Daniel Keilwitz finishing with a 1:48.270 for Black Pearl Racing.

Fourth place went to yet another Ferrari, this time a 488, for Scuderia Praha – which finished free practice on top – with Matteo Malucelli logging a 1:48.381. In fifth, and the first of the Pro Cup entries, was yet another Italian car – the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti ending the session with a 1:48.443.

Notable elsewhere in the field was the #1 Audi R8 LMS of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, which finished with the honour of being the highest finishing Audi – 13th place. Their lap of 1:48.622 was clocked by Laurens Vanthoor in a car he shares with his younger brother Dries and Sprint Cup team mate Frederic Vervisch.

The only Aston Martin in the field, the Oman Racing Team car of Ahmad Al-Harthy, Devon Modell and Jonny Adam, would finish 11th with Adam – fresh from winning last weekend’s British GT Championship race at Brands Hatch – setting a 1:48.570.

Lower down the order in 23rd place,  was the Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3 with Maxime Soulet finishing on 1:49.178, ever so slightly behind the Garage 59 McLaren 650S of Andrew Watson who set a 1:49.145 to be three hundredths quicker at the end of the day’s running.