Blancpain GT Series, Round 3, Sprint Cup, Brands Hatch – Qualifying:
Ben Barnicoat and team-mate Alvaro Parente will start the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup qualifying race from ninth position around the Brands Hatch grand prix circuit in Great Britain.
Having returned from a successful second placed finish in the Pirelli World Challenge SprintX finale in the USA the previous weekend, the pair headed into the weekend looking to improve on their previous Sprint Cup outing at Misano in Italy in their Strakka Racing-run McLaren 650 S GT3 machine.
Fellow Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver Jake Dennis took to the Brands grand prix layout for the first time, looking forward to the weekend with his Team WRT Audi R8 LMS alongside team-mate Pieter Schothorst.
Schothorst and Barnicoat began qualifying, which is split into three sessions. A red flag halted the opening session however with four minutes remaining as the #44 Strakka McLaren 650 S of Loris Hezemans crashed heavily at Stirlings. It led to the car’s retirement from the rest of the weekend.
With Schothorst positioned in fifth place by the red flag, Barnicoat had posted a best time of 1m 25.249s which was good enough of seventh place. Upon the restart, the majority of front-running cars including Schothorst and Barnicoat, opted not to go out on track to save tyre life.
Dennis took to the wheel of the #5 Audi R8 LMS for the second qualifying session, with his opening flying laps putting him a best placed fifth as three Team WRT Audis sat inside the top five places.
However, with Dennis and the team opting to only run on a single set of new tyres for the session, the car dropped down the order, finishing in 18th position. With only the top 17 cars progressing into the Q3 shootout, Dennis missed out by five thousands of a second.
“Second qualifying started well for me,” Dennis said, “but most people ran two sets of new rubber which meant that many were improving right at the end. Whereas we only ran the one set.
“I’m gutted that we missed out on Q3. I felt that I could have fought for the top 10 in Q3 as my Q2 lap wasn’t so great. Hopefully we can have a clean qualifying race tomorrow and get a top 10 finish, then we can fight for points in race two.”
After a slow start to the second qualifying session for the McLaren 650S GT3, Alvaro Parente quickly set the sixth quickest time with a best time of 1m 23.958s to move the car into Q3.
Parente remained in the car for the final qualifying session. Having set the 12th fastest time, Parente improved to set his best time of 1m 23.630s, placing him in seventh position.
As other cars improved around him in the order, the #58 McLaren slipped to ninth place for Sunday’s opening qualifying race.
“It’s been a pretty good day,” Barnicoat explained. “I took the first qualifying session as it was my first time at the track. The balance of the car was good but we had a small issue with low tyre pressures as the track temperature dropped during the session which hindered my speed.
“Alvaro did a great job in Q2 and Q3, I think ninth place is the best we could have achieved although P6 could have been possible. It’s extremely tight at the top other than the pole sitting Lamborghini.
“Alvaro will begin the qualifying race with me completing it. The plan is to attempt to make up some spots to get closer to the front of the grid ahead of the main race.”
The GRT Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti stormed to pole position as Bortolotti set a blinding time of 1m 22.891s, half a second quicker than the Team WRT Audi R8 LMS of Enzo Ide and Christopher Mies.
|Brands Hatch GP (3.916km / 2.433 miles): Qualifying (Top 10)|
|Pos||Driver||Team||Car||Time / Gap|
|1||Engelhart / Bortolotti||GRT Grasser Racing||Lambourghini Huracan GT3||1m 22.891s|
|2||Ide / Mies||Belgian Audi Club Team WRT||Audi R8 LMS||+0.500s|
|3||Palttala / Krohn||Rowe Racing||BMW M6 GT3||+0.564s|
|4||Perez Companc / Siedler||GRT Grasser Racing||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||+0.641s|
|5||Monti / Haase||Sainteloc Racing||Audi R8 LMS||+0.646s|
|6||Serralles / Juncadella||AKKA ASP||Mercedes-AMG GT3||+0.651s|
|7||Venturini / Mapelli||Attempto Racing||Lambourghini Huracan GT3||+0.653s|
|8||Leonard / Frijns||Team WRT||Audi R8 LMS||+0.658s|
|9||Barnicoat / Parente||Strakka Racing||McLaren 650 S GT3||+0.739s|
|10||Buhk / Perera||Team HTP Motorsport||Mercedes-AMG GT3||+0.757s|
|18||Schothorst / Dennis||Team WRT||Audi R8 LMS||+1.339s|
Free practice 1: Barnicoat/Parente 19th, 1m 25.792s, +1.435s; Schothorst/Dennis 16th, 1m 25.604s, +1.247s. Free practice 2: Barnicoat/Parente 16th, 1m 24.807s, +0.835s; Schothorst/Dennis 14th, 1m 24.697s, +0.725s. Qualifying (qualifying race grid): Barnicoat/Parente P9, 1m 23.630s, +0.739s; Schothorst/Dennis 18th, 1m 24.230s, +1.339s.
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