In a very close qualifying session Stéphane Ortelli put the #3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi on pole for this afternoon’s qualifying race. Ortelli just beat Maxime Martin (#77 BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil BMW) and Maxi Buhk (#84 Bentley Team HTP Continental). Pole in Silver Cup went to Jules Szymkowiak (#83 Bentley Team HTP Continental) and Martin Ragginger (#911 Fach Auto Tech Porsche) was quickest in Pro-Am Cup.
With ten cars within the same second, and six different brands represented in Q3, qualifying for the opening round of the 2015 Blancpain Sprint Series again showed how competitive the series is. In the end Stéphane Ortelli only needed one quick run in the deciding qualifying part to claim the pole, but a last gasp effort of Maxime Martin brought the yellow #77 BMW to within one tenth of the fastest time. The Belgian did claim a spot on the front row however, with Maximilian Buhk and Markus Winkelhock (#6 Phoenix Racing Audi) on the second.
Series newcomer Jules Szymkowiak made an extraordinary debut in GT-racing. The 19-year-old Dutchman was really flying in Q2, setting the fifth time overall. In Q3 he dropped to eighth, but that was still enough to claim the pole in Silver Cup. Martin Ragginger was the only Pro-Am driver in the final qualifying session, putting the Fach Auto Tech Porsche on the fifth row of the grid.
Blancpain Sprint Series champions Belgian Audi Club Team WRT took the pole with Ortelli, but also lost a car during qualifying. GT rookie Robin Frijns lost control of the #1 Audi coming out of the final corner, and the car hit the tyre wall hard. With the chassis damaged, the Belgian team had no other choice than to retire the car for the weekend.
Qualifying Race starts at 14:15.
Stéphane Ortelli (#3 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi): “It’s good to start the season with a pole position, but I have to admit I did not really expect that. The team did an amazing job in between the sessions to adapt the car to the conditions, and I gave it my all to beat these guys. I love the level of competition in these series and it is a nice feeling to be able to compete with them.”
Jules Szymkowiak (#83 Bentley Team HTP Continental): “It is great that I could get into the final part of qualifying in my first weekend in GT racing. I only raced single seaters up until now, and since the decision to switch to GT’s was taken very late I only did little testing. Now that we have qualified this well, I would love to get a good overall finish as well.”
Martin Ragginger (#911 Fach Auto Tech Porsche): “The competition in the Blancpain Endurance Series is of a very high level. I already noticed that last year in Baku, and it is difficult to be in front. During free practice we were far off the pace, but the team worked hard all during the night to improve the car. They did a fantastic job and now we are in a good position to win the Pro-Am Cup.”