The No. 1 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS ultra GT3 will start tomorrow’s Blancpain Sprint Series Qualifying Race at Brands Hatch from pole, as reigning champion Laurens Vanthoor stormed to a last minute pole in the final hard fought 10-minute session, in which cars were pushed to the limits by their drivers.
Vanthoor delivered several flying laps, but only managed to snatch pole from the championship-leading No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes of Maximilian Götz in his final attempt and by only 0.022 seconds.
“In my first lap I went wide in Turn 5, then in my second fast lap I also did a mistake,” said Vanthoor afterwards. “I was really pushing hard and then in my final lap everything worked out. Brands Hatch is a real all-or-nothing circuit.”
The No. 84 HTP Mercedes remained under the radar in both free practice sessions where it barely managed to make it in the top-10, but they delivered the performance when it was needed, as was the case in Nogaro.
Jeroen Bleekemolen was the first driver to put in a flyer with his No. 28 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 to take provisional pole, but he eventually slid down to P3 (+0.119s).
“We were saving tires in Q2 and only just made it through, but we’ll have good tires for the race,” said Bleekemolen. “Laurens and Max are top GT drivers so I’m happy with third on the grid.”
Behind the No. 6 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra of Markus Winkelhock, series newcomer Valdeno Brito Filho put in a solid performance by driving his No. 30 BMW Team Brasil BMW Z4 GT3 to P5.
Alex Zanardi will start tomorrow’s Qualifying Race from a strong sixth on the grid. The 47-year-old Italian already has good memories of Brands Hatch as he won his two Paralympic gold medals at the Kent venue back in 2012.
René Rast surprisingly couldn’t match Vanthoor’s pace in the sister No. 2 car and only ended up eight (+0.559s), in front of the Villorba Corse Ferrari of Andrea Montermini.
Stéphane Ortelli and Roman Rusinov were also struggling for pace in the WRT run G-Drive Racing Audi and didn’t even make it into the final session, they will start from P11.
The No. 88 Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo of Tomas Enge and Stefan Rosina that showed good pace in both practice sessions, suffered mechanical troubles and will start from the back of the grid.