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Frijns, Ide Dominate Qualifying Race at Barcelona

Frijns, Ide dominate Blancpain GT Qualifying Race at Barcelona…

Photo: Geert Franquet

Photo: Geert Franquet

Enzo Ide is almost certain of becoming the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Drivers’ Champion later today, as he and Robin Frijns dominated Sunday morning’s Qualifying Race at Barcelona with the No. 33 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS.

There was no stopping the Belgian-Dutch duo that crossed the line with a 12.926s gap on the No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti and Nicolas Pohler.

“Once I was in the car I felt really comfortable, I had my easiest stint of the season” said Ide, who scored his fourth win of the season.

Main rivals Maxi Buhk and Dominik Baumann looked like they would not improve on their P8 starting position, but an incident between Laurens Vanthoor’s No. 1 WRT Audi and Marlon Stockinger’s pole-sitting No. 74 ISR Audi meant their No. 84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 moved up to sixth in the closing minutes, scoring one point.

Buhk and Baumann will have to win the Main Race later today if they want to overcome their 24-point deficit to the the pole sitting Enzo Ide, who only needs to finish ninth in that case.

Frijns nailed the start from third on the gird and dove down the inside of Mirko Bortolotti’s No. 63 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini to take the lead.

Jules Szymkowiak’s No. 86 HTP Mercedes-AMG GT3 followed in the wake of the No. 33 WRT Audi of his fellow countryman, but he already faced a seven-second gap by the time the pit window opened, closely followed by Bortolotti’s GRT Lamborghini in third.

A quick pitstop by the WRT crew meant the No. 33 Audi’s lead was doubled to 14 seconds when Ide got behind the wheel.

Pohler was not able to bring down the gap in the No. 63 GRT Lamborghini now in second, while Szymkowiak fell outside of the top 10 after the stewards gave him a drive-through penalty for gaining an advantage by cutting Turn 2 at the start.

The podium was completed by the No. 88 AKKA ASP Mercedes of Felix Rosenqvist and Tristan Vautier, gaining two positions following the contact between Laurens Vanthoor and Stockinger who were battling for third.

Despite finishing sixth and losing seven points to Ide, Buhk and Baumann still managed to extend their lead in the overall Blancpain GT Series drivers’ standings by one point over Rob Bell.

Bell’s No. 58 Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3 finished 16th and scored no points following a drive-through penalty incurred by his teammate Alvaro Parente, running in fourth at the time.

The Portuguese driver was deemed to have gained an advantage by cutting Turn 2 at the start, similar to what happened with Szymkowiak.

Alessio Picariello and Nicolaj Moller Madsen came in first in the Silver Cup, finishing seventh overall with the No. 5 Phoenix Racing Audi, with Morgan Moullin-Traffort and Jean-Luc Beaubelique claiming Pro-Am Cup honors.

Michele Beretta and Luca Stolz won the 2016 Silver Cup by finishing second in the category with the No. 19 GRT Lamborghini.

The final Main Race of the 2016 season gets underway at 2:10 p.m. local time.

RESULTS: Qualifying Race

Vincent Wouters (@VinceWouters) is a Belgium-based sports car racing reporter, providing coverage primarily of the Blancpain GT Series.

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