Marciello Sets The Pace at Zolder for Mercedes but Audi Show Strong Pace

by Paul Hensby
Raffaele Marciello was quickest overall on Friday

Christopher Mies and Alex Riberas set the pace in the opening free practice session of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at Circuit Zolder, while Raffaele Marciello and Michael Meadows set the best time of the day in the afternoon session.

Mies and Riberas, racing in the #1 Belgian Club Audi Team WRT car this season, set the best time of the first session of 1:29.720s, 0.085 seconds clear of the second placed #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi of Markus Winkelhock and Nyls Stievenart, while the #19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Ezequiel Pérez Companc and Andrea Caldarelli was a further 0.010 seconds back in third.

The #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Michal Broniszewski and Giacomo Piccini ended fourth fastest, 0.243 seconds down on Mies’ best time and the second best of Pro Am Cup class behind the Winkelhock Audi, while Steijn Schothorst and Kelvin van der Linde put the #66 Attempto Racing Audi into fifth, a further 0.079 seconds back.

The leading Silver Cup entry came from the #3 Team WRT Audi of Belgian duo Gilles Magnus and Alessio Picariello, who were only confirmed on the morning of practice, while the only Am Cup entry this weekend, the #15 Boutsen Ginion Racing Lamborghini of Pierre Feligioni and Claude-Yves Gosselin brought up the rear of the twenty-two car field.

Marciello’s best lap of 1:29.370s in the AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG saw the Italian end the second free practice session on top, while defending champions Robin Frijns and Stuart Leonard ended second fastest, just 0.018 seconds down despite being in the tyre barriers in the morning session.

The #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi of Simon Gachet and Christopher Haase was third fastest ahead of the Mies/Riberas Audi, while Dries Vanthoor and Will Stevens made it three Team WRT entries inside the top five in fifth, the #2 duo ending 0.396 seconds back on Marciello’s best.

Stievenart and Winkelhock were again the best of the Pro-Am Cup entries in eighth, while the #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes of Nico Bastian and Jack Manchester topped the Silver Cup class, while the #15 Lamborghini once again brought up the rear of the field, more than seven and a half seconds off the pace.

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