After nearly a month’s break, the Blancpain GT Series has restarted in a big way. This weekend will play host to the twice-around-the-clock race at Spa-Francorchamps.
Qualifying up at the pointy end of the grid is the No. 55 Kaspersky Ferrari 488. Factory driver James Calado put in a rapid 2:17.390, just edging out Mirko Bortolotti in the No. 63 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan by six hundredths. This marks the first time a Prancing Horse has started the Spa 24H up front since the race became part of the Blancpain season.
Calado will share driving duties with Giancarlo Fisichella and Marco Cioci. GRT currently sits in first in the championship, with Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart, and Andrea Caldarelli.
Third place on the grid goes to one of the factory Audi R8 LMS cars. Frederic Vervisch recorded a 2:17.630 in the No. 2 car, while Rene Rast secured sixth in the No. 1 sister car.
As a fine example of how evenly-matched modern GT3 cars can be, Lauren Vanthoor and Jonny Adam tied with 2:17.674 each. Even more impressive, Adam’s No. 97 Oman Racing Aston Martin is in the Pro-Am cup! Unfortunately, a post-qualifying penalty bumps the team down to seventh, though it still starts ahead of the rest of the Pro-Am field. Vanthoor, alongside Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, keep Porsche in the second row.
Last year’s winning team, the ROWE BMW M6 GT3 outfit of Philipp Eng, Maxime Martin, and Alexander Sims, will start eleventh. One spot ahead is the No. 23 Team RJN Nissan GT-R, with the familiar team of Lucas Ordonez, Alex Buncombe, and Katsumasa Chiyo. Ordonez was the man behind the wheel for Superpole, setting a 2:18.084 lap.
2015 GT Academy International champion Matthew Simmons will also be taking part in the race, as part of the No. 22 GT-R’s team. He starts just outside the top twenty, joined by teammates Struan Moore and Matthew Parry.
Where To Watch
If you’re looking to catch the race, there are a few options. The most obvious choice is the official Blancpain site, but note that it’s geo-locked — sorry, North Americans. You can also check the live timing from that same page.
We’ve embedded Nissan’s (free) Youtube live stream above. Motor Trend On Demand will also be streaming the entire race.
The race gets underway at 1430 GMT (click here to convert). Good luck to all participants!
Featured image courtesy of Kevin Mc Glone of Red Square Images.
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