ISR Racing’s Audi R8 LMS at the hands of Marlon Stockinger and Franck Perera set a 1:23.260 to claim pole for the qualifying race at the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at Brands Hatch.
Held at a scorchingly hot Kent circuit, the Audi squad secured their first pole position by less than one tenth of a second as Jules Szymkowiak in the HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG couldn’t quite find the time required to snatch pole away from the ISR crew, their time of 1:23.341 saw them finish the session 0.081s behind.
ISR’s Frack Perera said: “I have no real experience of this track but we have worked really hard, both here and during pre-season, to get on top of the new car. Obviously Marlon is new to GT racing but we have just done our best in a short space of time to catch the guys ahead. Qualifying at the front here is really important because it is so difficult to overtake. The aim is to win and the car is good, especially over a stint. I am really confident that we have the pace to win tomorrow’s race.”
Starting in third place for tomorrow’s qualifying race is the sister HTP Mercedes of Jazeman Jafaar who will feel even more aggrieved at how tight the times were – he missed out on a front row start by five-thousandths of a second clocking a 1:23.346.
Highlighting just how tight the session was – the top 19 in Qualifying Three were covered by just 1.077 seconds – finishing one-tenth behind Jafaar was Christopher Mies in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS having set a 1:23.443 to knock Tristan Vautier’s Team AKKA ASP Mercedes AMG down into fifth place in what was becoming a very Germanic front of the field.
However, restoring some British pride was the #58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S with Alvaro Parente setting some blistering laps to eventually end with a 1:23.484 – but with how tight the times were towards the end of the first day’s running, that would only be good enough for seventh. That said, Parente’s team mate Rob Bell has recent experience of the circuit thanks to his British GT Championship drive with Black Bull Ecurie Ecosse and that could play into Garage 59’s hands tomorrow.
Behind him was the first of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3s as Mirko Bortolotti in the GRT Grasser Racing Team car clocked a 1:23.516 to shut out Philipp Eng in the ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 by 0.012s around the almost three mile Brands Hatch circuit.
Notable elsewhere in the grid was the #87 Team AKKA ASP Mercedes which would finish as the highest Pro-Am entry in 20th place with a 1:24.273.
In last place, AF Corse’s Ferrari 458 Italia of Claudio Sdanewitsch and Stephane Lemeret could only set a 1:25.440 to find themselves at the tail end of the field in a class of their own with no other Am class entries for Brands Hatch.