AKKA ASP Team’s Felix Rosenqvist will start this afternoon’s Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Qualifying Race at the Hungaroring from pole position after triumphing in an ultra-competitive qualifying session earlier today.
The Swede, whose co-driver Tristan Vautier posted the fastest lap of the opening session, comfortably progressed into the final 10-minute shootout before unleashing the best time of the weekend - a 1m42.433s - to beat Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s Christopher Mies by just 0.070s.
The decisive 10 minute session was a fraught affair with several drivers heading the times at various points. Rosenqvist was the first to set a standout time but, along with several others, had it deleted by race officials for exceeding track limits.
That initially helped Laurens Vanthoor to briefly appear at the top before Mies redoubled his efforts and snatched provisional pole. But Rosenqvist would have the final say by lapping half-a-second quicker than the time originally deleted.
AMG-Team HTP Motorsport’s Dominik Baumann spent much of the final session at the sharp end and eventually claimed third with a lap 0.2s slower than Rosenqvist’s. That gave Mercedes-AMG first and third in a top-eight largely dominated by Audi, with Vanthoor’s WRT-run R8 finishing one place clear of Christopher Haase’s Sainteloc example in fourth and fifth.
Jules Szymkowiak’s HTP Mercedes-AMG was next up ahead of ISR’s Filip Salaquarda and Robin Frijn’s WRT Audi, which entered the final phase as fastest qualifier. Indeed, that second session underlined how competitive this year’s Sprint Cup field is with just one second separating the first 23 cars.
Ninth place was claimed by the first of the non-Audi or Mercedes-AMG drivers, GRT Grasser Racing Team’s Mirko Bortolotti, while Morgan Moullin-Traffort completed the top-10 with the fastest Pro-Am time aboard his AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG.
Championship debutant Alessio Picariello looked good for a top-six finish before winding up 12th as a result of repeated track limit violations. However, the Phoenix Racing ace can still be satisfied with setting the quickest Silver Cup lap.
Meanwhile, another driver making his maiden Sprint Cup appearance - AF Corse’s Rino Mastronardi - was fastest of the Am Cup runners in 30th overall.
This afternoon’s hour-long Qualifying Race gets underway at 17:15 local time. Watch it live on www.blancpain-gt-series.com.
Click here for the Hungaroring’s complete qualifying classification.
Felix Rosenqvist, #88 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG (overall pole): “Tristan was P1 in the first qualifying session so obviously we knew the car was quick and that I had to target P1 from there on. In Q2 I struggled a bit with my driving, with the track limits and traffic so didn’t really manage a clean run. But in Q3 I sort of got my things together and tried to be safe with the track limits and just make a clean lap, and it worked. It was a small margin but I’m very happy to be P1 here where the field is very, very tough.”
Alessio Picariello, #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 (Silver Cup pole): “It’s good because the main goal was to be first in the Silver Cup. But I was fourth or fifth overall before having three laps cancelled for exceeding track limits. It was always for nothing but that’s the rule. I’m disappointed but the pace is looking good, so we can do better in the race.”
Morgan Moullin-Traffort, #87 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG (Pro AM pole): “Everything went quite well; it’s a circuit that I didn’t know and to compete with these exceptional drivers is hard work. I’m very happy to have this pole, our first one in Pro Am. So thank you to the team.”
Rino Mastronardi, #55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 (Am Cup pole): “It’s my first time at the Hungaroring and the first time in the Sprint Cup, so I’m quite happy. Not 100% happy because my qualifying was not really what I expected, because I was a bit slower than in Free Practice. That would have given me a better position on the grid with more cars between us and the second car in our class, but for a first time it’s not bad.”