Norbert Siedler and Marco Seefried took the win in the Qualifying Race for the Misano round of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series. The Rinaldi Racing Ferrari drivers led from start to finish, even though the #63 Grasser Lamborghini kept them under pressure until the final lap. Third went to Belgian Audi Club Team WRT duo Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies.
For series leaders Laurens Vanthoor and Robin Frijns the qualifying race turned into drama, when Vanthoor made contact with the #83 HTP Bentley of Jules Szymkowiak and crashed heavily. Their main rivals in the title fight, Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril in the #84 HTP Bentley, did not score any points either, after receiving a drive through penalty due to a pitstop infringement.
The night race to determine the starting grid of the Misano Main Race turned out to be one of the most eventful races of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series. Went the lights went out polesitter Norbert Siedler held on to the lead, holding off the #173 Always Evolving Nissan of Craig Dolby. Behind them Vincent Abril in the #84 HTP Bentley and Mirko Bortolotti in the #63 Grasser Lamborghini joined the four-way fight for the lead, but in lap 8 that scrap came to an abrupt halt.
Laurens Vanthoor, who had started from pitlane due to an engine change of the #1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, made contact with the #83 HTP Bentley of Szymkowiak, both cars spun off and made heavy contact with the barriers, causing a safety car intervention. Both drivers could get out of their cars, but Laurens Vanthoor had to be transported to the medical centre to get treatment for a sprained foot.
Right after the safety car intervention had ended, the pitstop window opened. Once all the driver changes had been completed, the #333 Ferrari of Marco Seefried was still in the lead, but now with the #63 Lamborghini of Finnish youngster Patrick Kujala hot on his heels. The #173 Nissan had lost a lot of time in the pit due to a problem with left front wheel, while the #84 Bentley incurred a drive through penalty (which was converted in a 30 second penalty after the race) due to an infringement against the pitstop rules.
That meant that Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies in the #2 Audi moved up to third, and they will share the second row of the main race with the #77 AH Competicoes Team Brazil BMW of Atila Abreu and Valdeno Brito.
In Silver Cup Jeroen Mul in the #19 Grasser Lamborghini had the best starting position, but an early spin made him drop to last. Together with team-mate Alberto Di Folco he managed to fight his way back to the lead of the Silver Cup, but when the Italian visited the gravel trap in the final quarter of the race, it was the #74 ISR Audi of the Fjordbach twins that moved into the Silver Cup lead.
The fight for Pro-Am Cup honours was decided in a similar way when Alexey Vasilyev in the #71 GT Russian Mercedes went off the road shortly before the end, handing the class win to the other GT Russian car of Alexey Karachev and Christophe Bouchut.
The main race for the Misano round of the Blancpain Sprint Series starts at 14.00 local time on Sunday.
Marco Seefried (#333 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari): "I know the most important race of the weekend is still to come, but the team has been working so hard for this win, all season long, that this really feels very good. And to be honest, I can't really tell the difference in intensity between a qualifying race and a main race, so it's good to have this one in the bag."
Patrick Kujala (#63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini): "When I started my stint I briefly thought I was able to have a go at the Ferrari, but then the Bentley was behind me and I had to defend a bit. When it was clear that the Bentley would get a penalty, I just completed the race."
Christopher Mies (#2 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT): "I think I was already sleeping at the start, because I lost a lot of positions. Fortunately the team did a fabulous pitstop, so we could get back to the front. Now I hope we can hang on to this position in the main race as well."
Thomas Fjordbach (#74 ISR Audi): "We were really focusing on the cars around us, and not really thinking on our position in the Silver Cup. It is a good thing to have won it of course, but tomorrow we will try to finish as high as possible overall as well."
Christophe Bouchut (#70 GT Russian Mercedes): "A night race is never easy, and I was sure there would be some incidents. Even though there was some contact at the start, we fortunately kept the car on the road and took this result."