GRT Grasser Racing Team in the hot seat in Nurburgring pre-qualifying

by Joe Hudson

Mirko Bortolotti has put the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 up at the top of the timesheets as teams got themselves set up for both qualifying and the three hour race to follow on Sunday.

The 90 minute session saw rather unexpected sunshine at the Nurburgring in what is the last Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup weekend of the season and 53 cars took to the track to make any final tweaks before a title deciding weekend in the Endurance Cup at least – the last round of the Sprint Cup at Barcelona will play its own part in the overall title.

As written above, there were 53 cars on track in the 90 minute session which is one less than took part in the Free Practice session – headed by Dries Vanthoor in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS – as the Bentley Team M-Sport Continental couldn’t make it out after a massive shunt for Steven Kane in the morning running. While the car was written-off (and replaced by a spare chassis) more importantly, Kane suffered no injuries.

With the track more rubbered in than the early session, cars were quickly dropping into the 1:56s and the 1:55s with Alessandro Pier Guidi an early pace-setter before Bortolotti swept past in the GRT Grasser Racing Team car clocking a 1:55.022.

In third place, and first in Pro-Am Cup, was Franck Perera’s ISR Racing Audi R8 LMS who set a 1:55.385 – only a few hundredths off Pier Guidi’s 1:55.306.

Such was the competitive nature of the Blancpain GT Series field, the top 19 cars were separated by less than one second with new British GT Champion Jonny Adam just inside that cut-off with a 1:55.970 – just a fraction ahead of Marco Bonanomi in the Sainteloc Racing Audi.

The championship battle, currently led by Garage 59 McLaren’s Come Ledogar and Rob Bell – who are joined by Duncan Tappy this weekend because of Shane Van Gisbergen’s V8 Supercars commitments – they finished 28th as they ran through race set-ups for tomorrow, but even then they were only 1.2s off the front-running pace.

For the other championship contenders, the Bentley crew of Andy Soucek, Maxime Soulet and Wolfgang Reip finished in 17th and the ROWE Racing crew of Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng finished in 23rd with the help of Nick Catsburg this weekend.

Qualifying for the final round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup begins tomorrow at 7.30am.

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