Nicolas Mislin overcame greasy track conditions to win the Qualifying Race at the opening round of this season’s Blancpain GT Sports Club campaign in Misano earlier this evening. However, he was chased all the way by Pier Guiseppe Perazzini whose second place overall equalled the best ever result for an Iron Cup entrant.
Heavy early afternoon rain saw the 25-minute race start behind the Safety Car before, after three laps of acclimatisation, the record grid went racing for real.
Mislin, who started from pole after also topping both free practice sessions, made a perfect getaway to comfortably lead fellow front-row starter Mario Cordoni into Turn 1.
Perazzini was already on the move behind, though, and took third from Pierre Hirschi around the outside of the first chicane before setting off in pursuit of Cordoni. It was not long before he had caught his compatriot and slid down the inside of the Ferrari.
Mislin had broken clear by that point but was reeled in by his Italian pursuer at the rate of a second per lap. At one point the pair were nose-to-tail before the Frenchman re-established his advantage. Ultimately just 1.2s covered them at the finish.
Another driver relishing the tricky conditions was Anthony Pons who pulled off a number of passing moves to complete the overall podium. Hirschi, Team WRT’s Jean-Michel Baert and finally Cordoni were all dispatched, although there was no time to catch the front two.
AF Corse driver Cordoni, who won both races held at Misano last season, came home fourth ahead of Baert and Hirschi, who slipped from third at the start to finish sixth aboard his CMR-run BMW Z4 GT3. Maurice Ricci made up two places to bring his AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 home seventh.
Reigning Iron Cup champion Martin Lanting looked set for second in class and a solid top-10 overall result before he and pursuer Christian Hook made contact with just five minutes remaining. The resulting spin confined Lanting to 16th overall and fourth in class while Hook went on to finish eighth.
HP Racing’s Coach McKansy (Lamborghini Gallardo GT3) and Selleslagh Racing Team’s Nicolas Vandierendonck (Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE) completed the top-10.
The Iron Cup podium was completed by Kessel Racing’s Stephen Earle (12th overall) and Jan Brunstedt’s JB Motorsport-run Audi R8 LMS ultra (14th overall).
Drivers line up in the positions they finished today when the Blancpain GT Sports Club’s Main Race gets underway at 11:15 tomorrow morning.
Nicolas Mislin (#22 CMR Ferrari 458 Italia GT3), 1st Overall: “I had never driven at Misano before but have now experienced every sort of condition! I made a good start and was able to control the pace thereafter. Pier Guiseppe was close behind at one point but I didn’t feel like it was necessary to push too hard in such tricky conditions. It would have been very easy to make a mistake so I only went for it when I had to. I feel ready for whatever the weather throws at me tomorrow.