Stéphane Ortelli put the No. 9 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi on pole for the Blancpain Sprint Series Qualifying Race in the streets of Baku tomorrow.
The 1998 Le Mans winner delivered a 1:30.033 halfway through the final Q3 session, beating his previous teammate Laurens Vanthoor by a mere 0.071s and making it a front-row lockout for WRT.
“The car was great and I just love the track layout. It was a lap I could only dream about,” said Ortelli. “The young guys within WRT push me a lot, it’s good to be back on top.”
Third quickest was the No. 28 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini of Jeroen Bleekemolen (+0.160s), though the Dutchman was clearly not satisfied with qualifying on the second second after hitting traffic.
“In Q2 we had an ABS failure, but the issue was fixed in time for Q3,” said Bleekemolen.
“I was blocked by a Boutsen McLaren in my second fast lap. I’m really upset with the guy, because I think a 1:30 or 1:29.9 would have been possible.”
Frédéric Vervisch put in a strong performance in the No. 16 Boutsen Ginion McLaren by ending up in P4 (+0.186s), with the next McLaren up the order only in twelfth (Parente, +1.038s).
“I’m really pleased with that. The day didn’t start so well for us, all the McLarens were struggling a bit, we’re not so good in the rain.” the Belgian told Sportscar365.
After posting the quickest time in Q2, Beechdean AMR’s Andy Soucek had to settle for fifth on the grid for tomorrow’s Qualifying Race, while Dominik Baumann put the first BMW Z4 on P6 (+0.341s).
Championship leader Maxi Götz qualified his HTP Motorsport Mercedes seventh, the German currently hold an advantage of 27 points on the Grasser Racing Lambo.
Tricky track conditions and high stakes meant the session was prone to incidents. Q1 was interrupted twice by a red flag, the first being caused by Vincent Abril’s No. 4 WRT Audi hitting the wall at start-finish, while Marc Basseng saw his Phoenix Racing Audi sustain heavy damage after a big off in the final chicane.
In Q2 the Fortec Mercedes of Benji Hetherington scraped the wall at the same spot as Abril, resulting in the third red flag. Several other car made light to medium contact with the concrete barriers, but could continue.