Marco Seefried and Norbert Siedler won the Blancpain Sprint Series Qualifying Race at Misano, as championship leader Laurens Vanthoor suffered a high-speed crash.
The pole-sitting Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 led from start to finish, but was pressured by the Always Evolving Nissan GT-R Nismo of Craig Dolby in the first half of the race and the No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan of Patrick Kujala after the pitstops.
Recently crowned Blancpain Super Trofeo champion Kujala remained below the rear wing of the Ferrari his entire stint, but had to settle for second, 1.391s behind Seefried who gave Rinaldi it’s first Blancpain win.
“My rear tires dropped off towards the end and Norbert experienced the same problem,” Seefried said. “But we did it, it was time for a win. We will try to defend our pole position tomorrow once again, it’s difficult to overtake here.”
The main story however was the massive crash of Laurens Vanthoor’s No. 1 WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra.
The Belgian started the race from the pitlane following an engine change after Qualifying and quickly climbed up to P13, before contact with the No. 83 Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3 of Jules Szymkowiak sent him into the barriers.
The incident took place at a high speed section of the track, as Vanthoor went slightly on to the grass when he tried to pass the Dutch Silver Cup driver and subsequently made contact with his Bentley.
Vanthoor limped out of his heavily wrecked car, supported by track marshals, and seemed to have sustained an injury to his left leg in the crash.
It’s not clear yet whether Vanthoor or the No. 1 WRT Audi will return to action tomorrow, though it seems very unlikely.
Maxi Buhk and Vincent Abril, their main rivals for the BSS title, weren’t able to fully capitalize on the No. 1 car’s misfortunes.
Their No. 84 Bentley was on course to finish third, but an error by the pitcrew meant they got a drive-through penalty right before the end, which was converted into a 30-second time penalty.
This meant the HTP Bentley was classified in seventh and didn’t score any points, resulting in a status quo in the standings, where Seefried and Siedler are now up into third.
The No. 2 WRT Audi of Christopher Mies and Enzo Ide inherited third after the penalty, in front of the No. 77 Brazilian BMW Z4 GT3 of Atila Abreu and Valdeno Brito in fourth.
Following a strong opening stint by Craig Dolby, the Always Evolving Nissan dropped all the way down to P14 after a wheel nut failed during the pitstop. Sean Walkinshaw was able to recover ninth.
RESULTS: Qualifying Race