Brilliant sunshine greeted the cars and drivers on the busy grid for the Qualifying Race in Zolder. The high temperatures would put man and machine to the test, and right from the start it was clear that the drivers would not budge an inch in their battle for position. Unfortunately, for some, this was to turn into tears. The #3 and #4 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 made contact with the #55 Attempto Racing McLaren and the wall, while the spinning #4 Audi hit the #0 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil Z4. The BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil car was able to continue, but for the other three cars the race was over. For Stéphane Ortelli and Stéphane Richelmi, lying third and fourth in the driver standings, this was a blow to their title ambitions.
Meanwhile Laurens Vanthoor had little trouble in converting his pole position into a comfortable lead, and when Robin Frijns left pitlane after the driver change, the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8 had a lead of nine seconds. The fight for second position was decided during the pitstops. Norbert Siedler had chased Maxi Buhk throughout the first part of the race, but was never able to overtake the Bentley. In the pitstop the Rinaldi Racing mechanics were slightly quicker than those from Bentley Team HTP and Marco Seefried could leave the pitlane in front of Vincent Abril. The #333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari showed some good speed and managed to almost halve the gap with leader Robin Frijns, which is promising for tomorrow's Main Race.
In Silver Cup polesitter Tom Dillmann barely avoided the mayhem at the start, but once the Frenchman got into his rhythm he remained faultless during the very first GT race of his career. In the second half of the race Jules Szymkowiak managed to close the gap towards the #73 MRS GT Racing Nissan of Sean Walkinshaw and the #0 BMW Sports Trophy Team Z4 of Caca Bueno, who were fighting for sixth position overall. At the finish line, the three cars were separated by only two tenths of a second.
The race for Pro-Am honours looked set turn into the favour of the #71 GT Russian Team Mercedes, with Marko Asmer gaining five places at the start and running as high as fifth overall. However, a misunderstanding during the pitstop cost him a lot of time, which handed the win to GT Russian team-mates Alexey Karachev and Bernd Schneider.
Robin Frijns (#1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT R8): "Tomorrow's race is not going to be easy, since the Ferrari is quicker than us at the moment. If we can get through the first corner in the lead, we will work from there. It will be interesting, that's for sure."
Marco Seefried (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari): "There was a point in the race where the leading Audi appeared in front of me and I could see that I was catching it, but only by a couple of tenths a lap. So I knew that I would probably not close the gap completely, but it's good to see that we again have a great race pace, like we had in Brands Hatch and Nogaro. Hopefully we can convert it into a win here."
Maxi Buhk (#84 Bentley Team HTP Continental): "I was surprised that the Ferrari kept close to me throughout the first stint. I thought it would lose ground at the end, but it didn't. We lost a position in the pitstop, but our guys still did an excellent job. The Bentley is a big car, and it's just not easy to do a quick wheel change. But the car performed well and I am pretty happy with this result."
Jules Szymkowiak (#83 Bentley Team HTP Continental): "Maybe I could have taken the Nissan and the BMW coming out of the final corner, but I did not have enough grip to do so. Still, if everything goes perfectly tomorrow, I think we can finish in the top five overall. »
Sunday 7 June
10:50 - 11:10 Warm Up
11:30 - 12:00 Drivers Autograph Session
15:15 - 16:15 Main Race
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Blancpain - Innovation is our Tradition
Founded in 1735 by Jehan-Jacques Blancpain, the watch brand bearing his name is the oldest in the world. Blancpain is currently engaged to the renewal of mechanical watchmaking and to passing on exceptional expertise from one generation to the next through constant investment in human resources, production facilities and research. This approach is its strength and the expression of our long-term vision, even though it goes against the tide of a certain tendency to seek immediate profit. From the creation of components through to watch design, Blancpain is distinguished by its ability to develop exceptional movements. Over the past ten years, the Manufacture has indeed developed no less than 35 new calibres.
Through its various models, Blancpain preserves its heritage of precision and elegance, while also displaying an innovative and occasionally provocative spirit. Its range encompasses the sportive L-evolution line, the legendary Fifty Fathoms diver’s watch, as well as the classic Villeret collection, the high complication from Le Brassus collection and the Women models.
Pirelli – Official Tyre Supplier
Pirelli is a tyre manufacturer and world leader in the automotive industry. It has an exclusive relationship with over 50 racing series worldwide, including Formula One.
Pirelli has a long and illustrious history in endurance racing, and has also claimed a huge variety of class wins in GT racing all over the world. The design of the new Pirelli GT tyres meets the needs of GT racing while maintaining the performance characteristics that endurance drivers have appreciated in the past.The slick tyres used for GT racing are branded Zero: just like the slicks that have become a central feature of Formula One. The name P Zero is used in the highest categories of motorsport such as GT racing.
SRO Motorsports Group - The architect of modern GT Racing
SRO Motorsports Group was founded by Stephane Ratel and has specialised in the promotion, support and organisation of many national and international motorsport series since 1995.
In 2015, SRO promotes several championships and series, such as the Blancpain GT Series (with the Blancpain Sprint Series and the Blancpain Endurance Series, including the iconic Total 24 hours of Spa), the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and the newly-created GT Sports Club and Ultracar Sports Club. SRO Motorsports Group has various franchise agreements, including the GT4 European Series.
SRO Motorsports Group runs also the SRO Race Centre by MMC, a high-level technical centre at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France.
SRO has offices in London, Paris and Liège.