It would be the second Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup pole position of the year for the GRT Grasser Racing team as they aim to close the gap to the championship leaders at the Nurburgring.
A fine lap from Mirko Bortolotti put the #63 Lamborghini in front for the first event, while in qualifying for race two, it would be a Silver Cup team on top, with Luca Stolz driving the #6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG.
Coming into the weekend, nothing separated the championship leaders, with both the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT and the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes equal on 74 points in the Sprint Cup standings. While WRT had easily been the quickest of the pair throughout the year, two crucial retirements had allowed the AKKA’s to catch up.
Behind them, three other teams had a chance of taking the title with the most likely challenge coming from the #63 Lamborghini. It would be a mixed morning for all three though, with the trio qualifying in the top three and outside the top eight in either session.
It was Bortolotti who led the standings at the halfway point, but as times continued to tumble it would be the #1 WRT Audi, who dropped the benchmark. A surprise in the closing stages saw the #14 Emil Frey Lexus Racing go second and creating a three car battle for pole.
At the flag, it would be the Lamborghini who retook pole, to create a golden opportunity to pull back the now 15.5 point deficit in the championship into their own hands. Championship rival Alex Riberas would qualify his Audi third behind the Lexus.
Fourth would go to Simon Gachet in the #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi ensuring the #1 will have support on the second row in order to attack the polesitter. Meanwhile, the top Silver pairing was the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes in fifth.
It would be worse news for Michael Meadows in the championship challenging AKKA ASP, qualifying tenth and piling the pressure on for the race this afternoon.
There would be drama at the start of the second session as Christopher Mies slid into the barrier at the hairpin. An apparent brake failure saw the #1 WRT Audi run straight on hitting the tyres and bringing out the red flag before he’d set a proper competitive time. They’d qualify 14th.
This left the door open for a surprising new polesitter in the form of the #6 Black Falcon Mercedes. Despite running a Silver pairing, it would be Luca Stolz who stole the top spot away from his Mercedes compatriot and Nurburgring specialist Raffaele Marciello.
The #88 Mercedes, had dominated the restart, but even Marciello could not outdo the German. The second row would be headed by the #2 WRT Audi driven by Dries Vanthoor, as Christopher Haase in the Sainteloc Audi put in another stunning lap to go fourth.
Rounding out the top five would be the best of the Pro-Am’s as Carlo Van Dam dragged his TP-12 Kessel Racing Ferrari onto the third row and crucially, six places ahead of their championship rivals.