FFF Racing Team by ACM’s Dennis Lind and Absolute Racing’s Josh Burdon claimed a pole position apiece during today’s Blancpain GT Series Asia qualifying session at Sepang, while there were also GT4 poles for Russell Ward (GruppeM Racing) and Gilles Vannelet (Team iRace.Win).
Q1: Lind holds off Ye
An early red flag to retrieve Hiroaki Hamaguchi’s stranded Lamborghini ensured no-one had set a time before the 15-minute session resumed with 11 minutes left on the clock.
Dennis Lind wasted no time stamping his authority on proceedings by producing his best lap – 2m03.367s – first time around. HubAuto Corsa’s Leo Ye Hongli came closest to toppling the Dane, but his best effort ultimately fell just 0.019s short.
Nico Bastian’s GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG slotted into third after lapping less than 0.2s slower than Lind, while Absolute Racing’s Franky Cheng was another tenth further back in fourth.
GruppeM’s second Mercedes-AMG set the fifth fastest time but starts first of GT3’s Pro/Am contingent courtesy of Brice Bosi, who out-qualified OD Racing’s Aditya Patel by 0.080s. Both start ahead of Edoardo Liberati’s KCMG Nissan, the fifth different manufacturer amongst a top-seven covered by as many tenths.
Anthony Liu – who won Sepang’s second race 12 months ago – completes the top-eight ahead of ARN Racing’s Hiroaki Nagai and FFF Racing’s Hamaguchi, who was able to resume qualifying after being retrieved from the gravel.
Elsewhere, Russell Ward gave GruppeM Racing and Mercedes-AMG their first GT4 pole in Asia thanks to a 2m16.770s. The American finished 0.754s ahead of Takayuki Kinoshita’s BMW Team Studie M4 and another 0.4s clear of Ringo Chong’s Team iRace.Win Mercedes-AMG.
Reigning class champion Frank Yu starts fourth aboard the Craft-Bamboo Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR while Clearwater Racing’s Richard Wee put the sole McLaren 570S fifth.
Race 1 starts at 15:45 this afternoon.
Q2: Impressive Burdon beats Marciello in straight fight
Just like Q1, the second 15-minute qualifying session featured an early red flag when Arrows Racing’s Honda NSX GT3 into the gravel.
Raffaele Marciello thus began the second segment with a 0.5s advantage thanks to his initial 2m03.000s lap. At that stage Josh Burdon had yet to register a meaningful time, but the Absolute Racing driver soon put that right by narrowly beating his GruppeM rival.
Factory AMG driver Marciello responded by wresting back provisional pole before Burdon sealed a sensational debut by lapping in 2m02.495s. That was sufficient to claim top spot by 0.382s and shave eight tenths from 2017’s qualifying benchmark.
KCMG’s NISMO Super GT star Tsugio Matsuda underlined his pedigree by taking third ahead of Absolute Racing’s Martin Rump, who qualified fastest of the ballasted Silver Cup crews. HubAuto Corsa’s Nick Foster spent time in second before slipping to fifth in the final reckoning. However, the Ferrari still finished 0.001s ahead of Patric Niederhauser (GruppeM Mercedes-AMG) and Martin Kodric (FFF Racing Lamborghini) who recorded exactly the same times.
Adderly Fong, Marco Mapelli and Tim Slade completed a top-10 featuring five manufacturers covered by one second.
In GT4 it was Team iRace.Win’s Gilles Vannelet who made good on his free practice promise by claiming pole position for Race 2. The Frenchman’s 2m16.634s was a tenth quicker than Ward’s Q1 time but, more importantly, 0.373s up on the American’s co-driver Reinhold Renger who starts second.
BMW Team Studie’s #81 M4 GT4 finished third in the hands of Sunako Jukuchou, while Mok Weng Sun’s Clearwater McLaren and the Craft-Bamboo Porsche driven by Jean-Marc Merlin completed the top-five.
Race 2 starts at 11:50 on Sunday. Watch it and today’s opening race live on the championship’s website and Facebook page.
PITSTOP SUCCESS PENALTIES
All GT3 and GT4 entries must adhere to the minimum pitstop time during both race’s mandatory driver changes (pit window open between minutes 25 and 35).
Pitstop success penalties are not applicable during the season’s first race. However, the top-three GT3 and GT4 finishers will incur 15, 10 and 5-second penalties to be served in addition to their Race 2 minimum pitstop times.
Saturday 14 April
09:00 – 09:30: Free Practice 3
11:55 – 12:10: Qualifying 1 (Race 1 grid)
12:20 – 12:35: Qualifying 2 (Race 2 grid)
15:45 – 16:45: Race 1
Sunday 15 April
11:50 – 12:50: Race 2
GT3: 2m04.859s – Raffaele Marciello – GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – 2017
GT4: 2m20.141s – Eric Lo – EKS Motorsports Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR – 2017
Source. SRO Motorsports Group