The #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan will start this afternoon's three-hour Blancpain GT Series race from pole position after emerging on top during a tricky qualifying session at Monza.
The crew of Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen combined to produce an average lap of 2m05.295s, remaining cool throughout despite the challenges of a rain-hit circuit and several red flags.
Bortolotti delivered the quickest lap in Q1 to set the team on its way, while Engelhart continued the good work with a strong Q2 effort. It then took a fast final lap by Ineichen to clinch pole, giving Grasser its first P1 starting spot at an Endurance Cup round since the final event of the 2016 campaign.
Second spot – and Silver Cup pole – went to the hugely impressive #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG crew of Nico Bastian, Felipe Fraga and Timur Boguslavskiy, who had looked set to top the overall order until Ineichen set his late lap.
The second row will be shared by Blancpain GT Series heavyweights Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (#2 Audi R8 LMS) and AKKA ASP Team (#88 Mercedes-AMG), with another superb Silver Cup performance putting the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan in P5 overall.
Pole position for the Pro-Am category went to the #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR. The 2017 class champions have returned to Pro-Am this year and began their title assault in ideal fashion thanks to Ahmad Al Harthy, Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood.
The Am Cup class was topped by defending champions Barwell Motorsport with their #77 Lamborghini Huracan. Returning drivers Adrian Amstuz and Leo Matchiski have been joined by Miguel Ramos this season and combined to deliver a standout qualifying effort.
This afternoon's season-opening race is set to get underway at 15.00 CET and could start on a wet circuit, with further rain possible ahead of the green flag. The three-hour contest can be watched live on the Blancpain GT Series website and across its social media channels.
Mirko Bortolotti, #63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3: "It’s was a crazy lap, to be honest. It was very on the edge, so I am really happy. When the team told me I was P1 it was just a massive celebration. Christian did a great job in Q2 as well and Rolf really surprised everyone with an impressive job in the last sector. I am really proud of my team and teammates. To start the season on pole position is just like a dream."
Timur Boguslavskiy, #90 AKKA ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3: "We had tough conditions on-track because of the weather, but we did a good job and I am very greatful for what we achieved as a team. We will try to fight for the overall win this afternoon but there is a huge competition."
Charlie Eastwood, #97 Oman Racing with TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3: "Salih, Ahmad and the whole team did an amazing job. It was a very tricky session and keeping the car on the tarmac was a lot harder than I expected! Being here with the new Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and starting from pole is obviously the best for us. Hopefully we will manage to stay at the front this afternoon!"
Leo Machitski, #77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3: "The biggest difficulty for most of us was the lack of visibility and the number of red flags, but luckily we managed to get good laps in. I am very thankful for the job Barwell Motorsport has done today. Being based in the UK, we are used to wet weather so we managed to find a good set-up. I would like also to thank my teammates, because they amazing job."