The qualifying session for the Blancpain Endurance Series 1000 at Circuit Paul Ricard was exciting and close. Mirko Bortolotti confirmed yesterday's good form and gave the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan its first pole. Katsumasa Chiyo in the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R Nismo will be next to him on the front row.
With no fewer than 22 cars within the same second after qualifying, the high level of competitiveness of the Blancpain Endurance Series was once more confirmed. With 61 cars on track, setting a good lap was never easy, but Mirko Bortolotti managed to time his quick lap to perfection, beating last year's pole by just under half a second.
With Katsumasa Chiyo in the #23 Nissan, Vincent Abril in the #84 Bentley and Norbert Siedler in the #333 Ferrari filling the next three positions on the starting grid, that makes for four different cars on the first two rows of the grid.
In the Pro-Am Cup, the #22 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN was on top overall at the end of Q1, with Gaetan Paletou lapping in 1'57.519. Mark Shulzhitskiy managed to shave off another five tenths of that time to keep the pole position in his class, and take sixth overall as well.
In the Am Cup the #25 Glorax Racing Ferrari in the hands of Rino Mastronardi set an emphatic pole, eighteen overall grid positions clear of the next car in the Am Cup.
Mirko Bortolotti (#63 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan): "It's crucial to have a clear lap, which is not easy when there are 61 cars on track. Once you think you can have a go at a good time, you have to take it with both hands, because you will probably not get a second opportunity. I have to thank all the guys from Grasser Racing and Lamborghini, because the car is working perfect here."
Mark Shulzhitskiy (#22 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R Nismo): "Our Nissan has always been very competitive here, and it is again the case this year. We will focus on the Pro-Am rankings in the race, but a good overall result is feasible as well."
Rino Mastronardi (#25 Glorax Racing Ferrari): "I thought I would be higher on the overall grid, but those guys in Pro and Pro-Am are flying. Still, in the Am Cup our main competitor for the championship is a long way behind us, so we should be able to take advantage of that in the race."
The 1000 km race will start on Saturday afternoon at 17.00
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