Nicolas Vandierendonck claimed his maiden Blancpain GT Sports Club pole position at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya earlier this afternoon thanks to a dominant performance in the 20-minute qualifying session. Meanwhile, the Iron Cup title fight appears finely poised after Martin Lanting pipped main rival Stephen Earle to class top spot.
The Selleslagh Racing Team Corvette had signalled its intentions by pacing the day’s second practice session and reproduced that same form when it mattered most. Vandierendonck initially vied with Cedric Leimer’s X Bionic Lamborghini Huracan for the fastest time before setting what would ultimately prove the day’s quickest lap – 1m49.426s – on his third flying run.
That was set just before Coach McKansy brought proceedings to a brief halt halfway through the session after spinning his Lamborghini exiting Turn 3. At that point Leimer was just 0.277s slower than Vandierendonck, who opted not to run again, but the Swiss driver had nothing more to give when the action resumed and eventually had to settle for second.
Having wrapped up the Overall championship at Spa-Francorchamps Michal Broniszewski’s mind was perhaps on his Blancpain GT Series title aspirations. The Pole has been largely imperious this season but could only lap his Kessel Racing Ferrari six tenths slower than Vandierendonck en route to third after not running before the red flag period. He shares the second row with Mario Cordoni’s AF Corse Ferrari.
Jaime Font Casas topped opening practice earlier in the day but required a late improvement to qualify inside the top-five ahead of fellow Blancpain GT Sports Club debutant Eric Cayrole. Both Ferraris start ahead of Jean-Michel Baert’s new-generation Audi R8 LMS after the Belgian jumped up several spots with a last gasp effort.
Patrick Van Glabeke’s Ferrari 488 GT3, the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 driven by Daniel Vogt and Maurice Ricci’s new Mercedes-AMG GT3 complete the top-10.
Meanwhile, Iron Cup championship contenders Martin Lanting and Stephen Earle start alongside each other on row seven after posting near identical times. The latter’s best was an agonising 0.013s slower than the reigning champion managed, suggesting that tomorrow’s title showdown in the middle of the pack will be worth watching.
Sunday’s 25-minute Qualifying Race, which determines the grid for the afternoon’s Main Race, starts at 11:45 local time and will be streamed live on the Blancpain GT Sports Club website.
Nicolas Vandierendonck, #63 Selleslagh Racing Team Corvette C6 ZR1 GTE: “I came here a couple of weeks ago with Curbstone and it has made a big difference. Either I had never driven the other circuits or not raced them for a long time, which is why I was not able to perform as well as I have here. I have also been getting used to the different driving style required to race the Corvette, which is very different to the Porsches I have been used to in the past. It has taken time to get the hang of it but the improvement is clear. In fact, we chose not to go out after the red flag because I did not believe the time could be improved. That also means my tyres are just four laps old, which should help tomorrow. I have a lot of confidence, the car has never felt better and the team has been brilliant.