Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter grab dramatic pole
The Lamborghini Blancpain Reiter team will start from pole position for tomorrow morning’s qualifying race at Circuito de Navarra, Spain after coming out on top in an exciting, wet Superpole session this evening.
Stefan Rosina (SLK) set the best time of 1m49.595s in the Reiter Engineering-run Lamborghini LP560-4 to head the field and ensure that in the land of bull running, it will be the rest of the spectacular supercar pack that will be chasing the Italian supercar tomorrow morning.
With conditions improving slightly for the two-lap Superpole session, Rosina used his reflexes to the full, taming several lurid moments to complete a polished performance and seal his and the team’s second pole position of the season (after Zolder back in April). It was especially satisfying for the German team as they had worked around the clock to fit a new gearbox to the car after a driveshaft breakage in the first of this morning’s free practice sessions. Earlier, Rosina’s team mate – reigning FIA GT1 World Champion - Marc Basseng (DEU), had just as skilfully taken the Lamborghini through to the Superpole session by taking the fastest time in the first segment of qualifying.
Alongside Rosina on the front row of the qualifying race grid will be title protagonists Edward Sandström (SWE) and Frank Stippler (DEU) in the #13 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT entry. Sandström set the Superpole time of 1m49.660s to ensure he and Stippler will start ahead of their Pro Cup championship rivals in the #11 Audi R8 LMS ultra – Stéphane Ortelli and Laurens Vanthoor. They line up in 7th position after Ortelli suffered a spin on one of his allocated two Superpole laps.
On the second row of the grid will be the Team WRT Audi of Niki Mayr-Melnhof (AUT) and Oliver Jarvis (GBR). The British racer, who is standing in for the unavailable René Rast this weekend was just one hundredth of a second from achieving a front row start. The #9 Sebastien Loeb Racing McLaren MP4-12C will start from the outside of the second row after setting a best of 1m49.746s with Alvaro Parente (PRT) setting the time.
One of many new faces in the FIA GT Series paddock this weekend made a major mark on Superpole by claiming 5th place overall and 1st in the Pro-Am class today. Michael Ammermüller (DEU), driving the Team Novadriver Audi R8 LMS ultra revelled in the tricky conditions and was the only Pro-Am class car to compete in Superpole session. He shares the Portuguese Audi with team owner Cesar Campanico (PRT).
Making it in to Superpole but not able to take part due to a turbo problem at the end of the second session of qualifying was the #35 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN pairing of Lucas Ordonez (ESP) and Alex Buncombe (GBR). The Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 will start from 10th on the grid overall and 2nd in Pro-Am with the dedicated British team set to work a long night repairing the car this evening. The team will also have to take a drive through penalty between laps 1-4 for changing the engine.
With the Pro-Am titles set for a thrilling conclusion in the final rounds of the series it was a tough day for the top two in the driver’s title chase. The #2 HTP Gravity Charouz Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Sergei Afanasiev (RUS) and Andreas Simonsen (SWE) will start only 17th after a difficult first two qualifying sessions. GRT Grasser Racing will start just two places ahead of them in 15th place with Hari Proczyk (AUT) determined to close the point’s gap with the assistance of new team mate Gerhard Tweraser (AUT).
One of the standout performances of the day came from the sole Gentlemen Trophy class entry of AF Corse and in particular, Michele Rugolo (ITA). Claiming 8th overall and becoming the first of their class to make the Superpole session this season, the scarlet Ferrari 458 Italia will start in 8th overall after a heroic effort by Rugolo, who races with German team mate – Claudio Sdanewitsch.
The qualifying race is scheduled to begin at 10.15cet and with variable weather forecast to return to the track tomorrow an eventful and enthralling FIA GT Series sprint race is in prospect at the Circuito de Navarra.