Bortolotti Strikes Early to Head Blancpain Pre-Qualifying

Mirko Bortolotti made an early swoop for the top spot as his #16 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 became one of only two cars to get into the 1:59s during pre-qualifying for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone.

The Italian didn’t even wait for the first ten minutes of the 90 minute session to finish to set his 1:59.873, and other teams could only look on as they tried and failed to beat Bortolotti’s time – the closest to beating the GRT car’s dominance at the top was the Pro-Am Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini driven by Marco Mapelli. However, even he could only finish with a 1:59.953 – 0.08s slower.

Indeed the session was so tight that the top 17 cars finished within one second of each other, going from Bortolotti’s timesheet topping time, all the way down to 2:00.865 in the Emil Frey Jaguar XKR G3 – that bracket included four of the five Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMSs, the Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488, a Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3, and the Nissan GT Academy/Team RJN Nissan GTR.

Also mixing it in that group was the third overall (and second in Pro-Am) ISR Racing Audi R8 LMS driven by Franck Perera who set a 2:00.011 early doors before, like most other teams, they turned their focus to long-run set ups before tomorrow’s three-hour race.

Only 0.004s behind was the #56 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG of Maro Engel – even one apex clipped a metre differently would have seen the Mercedes climb up into third place.

Of note in the session was a red flag after a collision between Andy Soucek’s Bentley and Nicolas Armindo’s Attempto Racing Porsche 911 GT3R saw Armindo hit the pit wall in front of the Wing and recovering the car led to a 15 minute red flag period with the session only restarting with ten minutes remaining.

Elsewhere in the field, the fastest Am Cup entry was the 38th placed Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 with David Perel setting a 2:02.125 to put the Ferrari two-tenths ahead of the next-in-class Team Parker Racing Bentley Continental GT3.