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Mirko Bortolotti puts Lamborghini on top in pre-qualifying

17 September 2016

The pre-qualifying session gave teams and drivers the final opportunity to prepare for the season finale of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at the Nürburgring. After the 90-minute pre-qualifying session it was the #16 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini topping the timing sheets, with Mirko Bortolotti at the wheel. The Italian came only two hundredths of a second short of breaking the 1’55 barrier. The top-19 cars were all within the same second.

The pre-qualifying session started without the #7 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental, which proved to be beyond repairs after hitting the barriers near the end of this morning’s free practice session. Driver Steven Kane underwent a thorough check-up and was given the all clear.

The remaining 53 cars took to the track in cloudy, but dry conditions. The Nürburgring asphalt proved to be marginally quicker than this morning, with several drivers breaking the 1’56 barrier early in the session. Eventually, Mirko Bortolotti proved to be quickest in 1’55.022, nearly three tenths quicker than Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari. The #74 ISR Audi ended up in third, as quickest of the Pro-Am cars, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari on top in the Am Cup.

The championship contenders took the opportunity to prepare tomorrow’s race to the fullest. The #58 Garage 59 McLaren of championship leaders Rob Bell and Côme Ledogar ended up in 28th, just over a second off the pace. Slower than other title contenders Soulet-Soucek-Reip (#8 Bentley Team M-Sport Continental, 17th) and Sims-Eng (#99 ROWE Racing BMW, 23rd), but in front of the #84 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Mercedes Jaafar-Buhk-Baumann, which ended up in 34th.

In Pro-Am Cup the #74 ISR Audi of Perera, Giauque and Hassid was the quickest of the two title contenders, but the #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Broniszewski, Bonacini and Rizzoli ended up in the top-10 overall as well, setting up nicely the ultimate confrontation of the endurance season.

Things could get exciting in the Am Cup as well, where the three remaining title contenders – Talbot, Zanuttini and Gitlin on the #888 Kessel Racing Ferrari, Pierre Ehret on the #333 Rinaldi Racing 488 and AKKA ASP trio Ricci, Beaubelique and Vannelet – set matching lap times.

Tomorrow sees the qualifying session start at 8.30, with the final endurance race of the season getting underway at 14.45. Both will be streamed live on the official website and via the app.