AKKA ASP Team led the way in pre-qualifying for the season-opening Blancpain GT Series contest at Monza, with local ace Raffaele Marciello delivering the fastest lap of the 90-minute session.
AKKA and Marciello are defending the overall titles this year with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and began their assault in perfect fashion. The Italian hit the front during the final half-hour of the 90-minute session, delivering a rapid 1m47.465s aboard the car he shares with Vincent Abril and Michael Meadows. That put the #88 almost three tenths clear of its nearest challenger, a handy gap given the level of competition.
The AKKA-Mercedes led the #563 Lamborghini run by the new FFF Racing squad, with another local ace – Marco Mapelli – registering the best time. The Lambo found itself sandwiched between two Mercedes-AMGs, as Maro Engel set the third-best lap in his #4 Black Falcon car.
The Silver Cup category promises to be hugely competitive this season and was led during pre-qualifying by the #22 Jenson Team Rocket RJN Honda NSX. Philipp Frommenwiler set the lap in the freshly-liveried car he shares with Struan Moore and Matt McMurry to end the session seventh overall.
The placed the #22 Honda one spot ahead of the best Pro-Am runner, the AKKA-run Mercedes-AMG of Jim Pla, Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Mauro Ricci. Pro driver Pla delivered the lap in the #87 machine. The best Am Cup runner, the #77 Barwell Lamborghini, began its class title defence in fine style with the 25th best lap overall, beating a number of all-Pro crews in the process.
The session was stopped by two red flags, the first for two separate incidents invoicing Ferrari 488s. The second came after the #99 ROWE-Porsche made contact with the barriers, though all of the drivers involved were unharmed and there was no shortage of green flag running.
Qualifying takes place tomorrow morning at 09.40, followed by the season-opening race at 15.00.