Sainteloc-Audi on top in opening Blancpain GT Series practice at Monza

13 April 2019

Sainteloc Racing paced the first full-field session of the 2019 Blancpain GT Series season thanks to a rapid lap from Markus Winkelhock aboard the #26 Audi R8 LMS.

German ace Winkelhock circulated the Monza circuit in 1m47.720s to beat the #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti by 0.150s. The #52 AF Corse Ferrari was third quickest courtesy of Andrea Bertolini, who showed impressive speed on home soil.

The quickest Silver Cup machine was the much-fancied #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, which ended the session in P7. The Am Cup runners were led by the #29 Raton Racing by Target Lamborghini, which placed a strong 26th spot overall.

Audi factory driver Winkelhock led the way in Pro-Am, while third-placed Bertolini is also the professional driver on a Pro-Am line-up.

The opening session was punctuated by a number of red flag stoppages, though none caused extensive delays. The most significant came early in proceedings when the #43 Strakka Mercedes-AMG crashed at the exit of Variante Ascari. Jack Hawksworth was at the wheel of the car, which took no further part in the session and finished bottom of the order without a representative lap time.

A total of 48 competitors took part in opening practice, one fewer than expected. The absentee was Daiko Lazarus Racing's #27 Lamborghini, which has withdrawn from the event following an accident during yesterday's test session.

The next track action will take place at 17.15 when pre-qualifying gets underway. The 90-minute run out could prove more important than usual: rain is predicted for Sunday morning, which could affect the main qualifying session at 09.40. Should this not take place, pre-qualifying will determine the grid for the afternoon's season-opening race.