Michal Broniszewski notched up his third Blancpain GT Sports Club win of the season in this afternoon’s Qualifying Race at Spa-Francorchamps with a comfortable lights-to-flag victory.
Elsewhere, Martin Lanting extended his Iron Cup points lead with another over-60s class win after coming through from 14th on the grid to finish sixth overall.
The rain that blighted practice and qualifying had been replaced by bright sunshine and a dry track by the time racing began in the Ardennes. A good start helped Broniszewski maintain his lead during the opening laps despite coming under pressure from Patrick Van Glabeke’s Ferrari, which passed Daniel Vogt’s front row-starting Mercedes at La Source on the opening tour.
However, any contest was effectively ended on lap three when the 488 GT3 spun into the Les Combes barriers. Although able to continue, Van Glabeke’s delay allowed Broniszewski to break further clear and eventually seal a commanding victory by 36.5s.
The Pole’s cause was also helped by Vogt, whose misdemeanour – made just after Van Glabeke’s spin had helped the Mercedes re-take second – gave the Ferrari driver even more breathing space.
That left Davide Roda’s Renault RS01, running for the first time in an SRO-sanctioned event this weekend, as the last line of defence. However, the Italian – who had looked every inch Broniszewski’s match in wet free practice – had no answer for the Kessel Racing driver. Indeed, he spent the race’s final third focusing more on his mirrors as they became increasingly full of Nicolas Vandierendonck.
The Selleslagh Racing Team Corvette driver had made impressive progress from 11th on the grid but ran out of time to mount a proper challenge for second. He eventually finished 1.7s behind Roda.
Anthony Pons enjoyed a relatively uneventful race en route to fourth. He, like Vandierendonck, benefitted from the issues of several drivers who started ahead, including Coach McKansy who span out of top-six contention on the opening lap.
Pierre Hirschi finished fifth on the road but was demoted to 12th post-race as a result of a 30-second time penalty for impeding Vogt’s comeback drive, which resulted in the Mercedes spinning out of sixth. That promoted Alexis de Bernardi to fifth, one place ahead of Iron Cup winner Martin Lanting who passed title rival Stephen Earle at half-distance.
Mario Cordoni was next up in seventh despite starting dead last, with Marco Zanuttini completing the top-eight.
Meanwhile, Earle maintained his ultra-consistent Iron Cup run with second in class and ninth overall, two places clear of Klaus Dieter Frers who completed the over-60s podium.
Tomorrow morning’s Main Race gets underway at 10:40 local time.
Michal Broniszewski, #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 GT3: “We had to guess a little with the set-up because of all the wet running earlier today. Honestly, it rained like hell! Maybe the car was not perfect but it was still good enough in the end. Tomorrow will not be easy either; it is a 40-minute race and very close to the Total 24 Hours of Spa, which I will be starting.