Abril and Haase master tricky conditions to secure Zandvoort poles

13 July 2019

Vincent Abril (AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG) and Christopher Haase (Sainteloc Racing Audi) will start this weekend's Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe races from pole position after mastering tricky track conditions at Zandvoort.

The Dutch circuit was damp for the start of this morning's qualifying, but with the sun breaking through it was inevitable that grip levels would improve quickly. This made for an unpredictable pair of 20-minute sessions that seemed to favour the championship's more experienced competitors.

AKKA ASP ace Abril bagged pole for race 1 with a perfectly-timed lap at the very end of the opening session. With the track drying by the minute, the Monegasque picked the ideal moment to strike and went exactly half a second faster than his nearest contender.

Grasser Racing ace Mirko Bortolotti led the way for the majority of the session, with the rival Lamborghini of Andrea Caldarelli (Orange1 FFF Racing) a mere 0.030s in arrears. Abril's late effort meant Bortolotti and Caldarelli would need to settle for second and third respectively, though both are well placed to fight for victory in this afternoon's opening race. Championship leader Luca Stolz (#4 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG) and the impressive Ricky Collard (#76 R-Motorsport Aston Martin) completed the overall top-five.

Series debutant Felipe Fraga delivered a strong showing to secure Silver Cup pole in the #90 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, edging out the sister #89 car of class standard-setter Nico Bastian by just 0.020s. Nyls Stievenart bagged Pro-Am pole by an even smaller margin, beating Hiroshi Hamaguchi (#519 FFF Lamborghini) by 0.006s to clinch his second successive class pole.

The second session evolved at an even more rapid pace than the first. At least a dozen drivers seemed to be in contention for pole, but ultimately it was Haase who prevailed in his #25 Sainteloc Audi. The German driver was in contention throughout and eventually secured top spot by 0.156s.

Dries Vanthoor was second in his Belgian Audi Club Team WRT machine, having spent much of the session swapping fastest laps with Haase. Maro Engel continued Black Falcon's strong form by putting the #4 Mercedes-AMG third, while Italian ace Mattia Drudi was a superb fourth in his Attempto Audi.

Drudi's effort also secured Silver Cup pole and a handy nine-place advantage over his nearest class contender. Pro-Am pole went to Jim Pla in the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, who will start an excellent sixth overall.

The lone Am Cup entrant – HB Racing's #444 Ferrari – took 27th on the overall grid for race 1 and 28th for the second outing. Florian Scholze handled the first session, while Wolfgang Triller was on board for Q2.

The first of this weekend's races gets underway today at 14.35 and will be streamed live on the Blancpain GT Series website and social media channels. The weekend will conclude with a second run on Sunday at 14.15.

> Qualifying 1 results

> Qualifying 2 results