Qualifying for the second round of the 2016 Blancpain GT Series in Monza produced the closest result in the history of the series. No fewer than 31 cars are within the same second, with the top-4 separated by less than one tenth of a second. It was Maxi Buhk in the #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG who claimed pole position for this afternoon's race and he will share the front row with Alex Buncombe in the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R. Fastest of the Pro-Am drivers was Giancarlo Fisichella in the #53 AF Corse Ferrari, with the sister car of Rino Mastronardi on pole in the Am Cup.
Damp conditions at the start of the qualifying hour, after a thunderstorm had passed over Monza during the night. The #99 Rowe Racing BMW topped the timing sheets after Q1 and Q2, but it was only in Q3 that things started in earnest. From the word go, times started to drop and for a while it looked like the Pro-Am Ferraris that had dominated the Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying sessions would be on top again. But then a flurry of fast laps were set by the fastest drivers in the series and when the dust settled, it was the #84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG of Maxi Buhk that had set the fastest time in 1'47.509. The reigning Sprint champion only had 0.016 in hand over the reigning Endurance champion, Alex Buncombe in the #23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R, with former F1 star Giancarlo Fisichella in third, 0.067 down on Buhk. Fisico is on pole in Pro-Am however, beating Matteo Malucelli in the #34 Scuderia Praha Ferrari by a mere 0.032.
The complete qualifying results accentuate once again why the Blancpain GT Series is the most competitive GT series in the world: top-10 on the grid within two seconds, nine different brands on the first nine rows of the grid, 31 cars qualifying within the same second. You cannot get any closer than this.
Maxi Buhk (#84 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG): "It is always nice to be on pole. I did not expect to be however, after yesterday's results I was convinced that the Ferrari-drivers would beat us all. From the front it will be a bit easier to stay out of trouble in the first corner, but it will be a tough race."
Alex Buncombe (#23 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R): "I am really chuffed to be on the front row. This morning we were aiming to be on the first screen of the results, to be in the top-20. To qualify in second is a great reward for the hard work everybody in the team has put in this weekend."
Giancarlo Fisichella (#53 AF Corse Ferrari): "This championship is fantastic. 57 cars on the grid, and all this close together, I mean: wow! For us the victory in Pro-Am is the main aim for the race, so it will be important to keep our nose clean all during the race."
Rino Mastronardi (#51 AF Corse Ferrari): "It is a very good thing that we have a couple of cars between us and the next car in the Am Cup, that could be an advantage in the early stages of the race. It will be important to stay out of trouble at the start, but my team-mates have won the Blancpain GT Series Am Cup before, so they have enough experience to get a good result this afternoon."
link to results
Main Race starts @ 15:00 local time